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RSL players, coaches say new owner should be ‘passionate’ and want to win

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) New Real Salt Lake coach Freddy Juarez is introduced during a news conference at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Tuesday Dec. 3, 2019.

Now that Dell Loy Hansen has decided to sell the holding company that includes Real Salt Lake, the Utah Royals FC and Real Monarchs, the RSL team on the field has all eyes forward.

There’s still a season to be played, and RSL has a tough opponent in the Seattle Sounders coming to Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday.

But the team is also looking to the future in a larger sense. With Hansen selling, who will the new owner be? What will that individual or group be like, and how can it transition the organization into a new era?

RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said he’d like to see a new owner that prioritizes winning.

“I think that’s something I think we’re pretty excited about is getting an owner here that wants to win and isn’t just about money,” Beckerman said. “So I think the future is really bright for this club. We have all the infrastructure in place. And now to get an owner that truly wants to win would be something that would be really positive for this club going forward.”

Hansen announced Sunday that he will sell all three soccer teams he owns. The sale will include Rio Tinto and the training facility in Herriman. The decision came after Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League launched an investigation into alleged racist comments Hansen made in his time as owner.

The allegations first surfaced in an article in The Athletic, and other allegations came out in the days after.

Hansen sent a letter Sunday morning to RSL players and coaches apologizing for not acting “as an owner worthy of your respect.” Coach Freddy Juarez said Monday that he accepted Hansen’s apology and that it was not his place to judge the soon-to-be-former owner.

“I hope he means it,” Juarez said, adding that he hopes Hansen speaks individually with the players soon.

When asked what qualities he would like to see in a new owner, Juarez said “passionate” and “supportive.” That support, Juarez said, could come in bolstering the roster or bringing in more staff. Essentially, whatever it would take to give RSL an edge, keep it relevant and “stick to where the soccer world is going.”

Above all, though, Juarez wants an owner that will be put in the same time and effort that everyone on the field does.

“You want owners that can come in and [give their] sweat, blood and everything for the crest and the colors,” Juarez said. “That’s what I’ve been doing. That’s what my staff does. That’s what the players do.”

Several parties have expressed interest in recent days in buying the team. One of the most high profile is the Larry H. Miller Group, which owns the Utah Jazz. Others include Houston Texans player JJ Watt and Toronto FC player Jozy Altidore.

“The guys here are open to anybody who can make it happen,” Beckerman said. “You got everything you need here.”

Beckerman said there are similarities between the current situation and the previous firings of coaches Jeff Cassar and Mike Petke. All of them happened during the season and developed relatively quickly.

Juarez and Beckerman feel past off-the-field drama prepared RSL for what’s currently going on with Hansen. But the captain and longtime MLS veteran is ready to move on.

“I just want to get back to playing soccer and get our community feeling good about Real Salt Lake,” Beckerman said. “When we put on this crest, we’re playing for this community. We’re playing for this state. And we want to make them feel proud of this club and proud of everybody on the team.”

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