Is RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni underrated?

The Athletic released its anonymous MLS GM survey, and Mastroeni was mentioned in it.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake coach Pablo Mastroeni as RSL hosts the Colorado Rapids during an MLS soccer match in Sandy, Utah on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

Pablo Mastroeni led Real Salt Lake to the Western Conference Finals of the MLS playoffs in 2021 as an interim coach. He led the team to another playoff berth the very next season, and has been credited with turning the culture around ever since his arrival as an assistant in 2021.

But RSL’s head coach might not have the outside perception of someone with that resume. In an anonymous survey of MLS general managers conducted by The Athletic, two of them said Mastroeni is the most underrated coach in the league.

When asked why that perception could exist, defender Justen Glad couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“Maybe it’s because we’re a small market team,” Glad said. “Maybe — I’m not sure. It could be a lot of things.”

Diego Luna agreed with the idea his coach is underrated.

“I think in the big scheme of things, he is one of the coaches that is not talked about often,” Luna said. “And I think it’s because people just have their favorites, people have people that they talk about more than others.”

Luna added that the outside perception about Mastroeni is a product of RSL being underrated as a team.

“Real Salt Lake is an underrated club, I think,” Luna said. “I think nobody talks about the mindset, the people that we have here, the players we have here, the quality that’s here. ... Every player here works for each other — one of the hardest working teams in the league by far. I think that’s what people underrate, and I think that all comes from Pablo.”

RSL has started the season 3-2-1 in its first six games. They play Minnesota on the road on Saturday.

Glad, who has been coached by five different people since starting his career in 2014, talks about Mastroeni as though he is anything but underrated.

“I’ve been coached by him for a while now and I got nothing but good things to say about him,” Glad said. “He’s an incredible coach, incredible guy. He knows what he’s talking about as a player. Playing under someone who’s played in a World Cup, it changes things a little bit. You know they’re not just saying stuff to say stuff. You know they’ve lived it.”