By DAN KARELL
Only eight days after the departure of Jason Kreis as head coach of Real Salt Lake, the club has already appointed his successor.
Deciding to promote from within, RSL announced today that long-time assistant coach Jeff Cassar will be the team’s third head coach in franchise history. The club will make a formal announcement on Thursday at 12 p.m. MT. The 39-year-old Cassar is a former Major League Soccer goalkeeper and first joined RSL in 2007 as an assistant coach.
“We’re very excited for Jeff to become the third head coach in Real Salt Lake history,” RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen said in a statement. “Jeff’s been a crucial member of the RSL family since 2007. His terrific leadership abilities, strong character and understanding of our locker room, tactics and overarching club culture will allow us to continue to compete for trophies in 2014 and beyond.”
Cassar played 10 seasons in MLS split between the Dallas Burn (1996-1997), Miami Fusion (1998-2001), and back in Dallas again with FC Dallas (2003-2006). Following the 2006 season, Cassar retired and became the club’s goalkeeper coach before moving to Salt Lake a year later when Kreis was hired.
The decision to make Cassar head coach shows that Hansen and general manager Garth Lagarway are looking to continue the current culture at the club, despite the fact that Cassar has no prior head coaching experience. The move follows similar ones in MLS though, including the recent Vancouver Whitecaps hiring Carl Robinson, Toronto FC hiring Ryan Nelsen, and the New York Red Bulls picking Mike Petke.
Kreis himself was hired without any coaching experience, having just retired as a player in May 2007, so the move to promote Cassar certainly isn’t without precedent.
Cassar will have a difficult task next season to replicate RSL’s overall success from 2013. The new head coach will also have to overcome criticism of the club after RSL lost two heartbreaking finals this year, falling to D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup and then to Sporting Kansas City in the MLS Cup final.
Just days after the defeat to Sporting KC, Kreis announced that he was leaving the club to take the head coaching job at New York City FC, which will join MLS as an expansion franchise in 2015.
What do you think of this news? Agree with the hire? Think that RSL should have reached out to other candidates? Think they should have found someone with head coaching experience?
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