This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sandy • Craig Waibel and Jeff Cassar sat side-by-side inside Real Salt Lake's media room Thursday morning and spoke for nearly 40 minutes. The primary news of the day was RSL retaining Cassar, the club's 42-year-old head coach, for a fourth season and possibly beyond.
After Cassar's three-year deal expired, RSL announced Wednesday that he'd return in 2017. He also offered more clarification on the nuts-and-bolts of his new contract. Cassar confirmed that it's a three-year deal, but only the first is guaranteed. The rest are incentive-laden "triggers" for potentially 2018 and 2019.
"Obviously as a coach you want security, right?" Cassar said. "You want to be able to have time to have your plan come to fruition, but I completely understand that, as Craig said earlier, this is a results business, and if I don't do well, why should I have a job? Maybe, at the end of the day, why should I get paid if I'm not doing well.
"Me, as a person, and the way I was brought up, that's how it kind of works. Yeah, I would love a three-year guaranteed [deal] and if I got fired, then I'm getting paid for two years. We'd all love that, but at the end of the day, we'll have a job. I can wrap my head around that. I really can."
» Cassar: Locker room not lost
After RSL's eight-game winless streak to close out what was once a promising 2016 season, Cassar was asked about the slide and if he felt at any point during that year that he lost the hope of the locker room.
"That's a fair question," Cassar said. "I would say I never lost the locker room. I think we have a lot of great leaders, a lot of great, experienced players and fantastic young men in our young players. I never lost the locker room. What happened was, I believe again, we just became unconfident, and when that happens, instead of solving it together as a group, sometimes we try to solve it and figure it out separately. I don't believe I ever lost the locker room, the trust of the players. I do believe that some part of this had to do with everyone not being able to play to 100 percent, physically. When that happens, and when the results don't come, the mental part now drops into it. We just lost our way a little bit.
"It was a massive learning experience, for myself, for the staff, these are the things that are only going to make us stronger, make us better, make us weathered. It's going to happen without a doubt. Sometimes it happens at the beginning of the year, sometimes it happens in the middle ours happened right at the end, which is about the worst possible time because there's no time to correct it. I think we're all going to be better for going through it."
» Roster plans taking shape?
A week after Waibel riffed on some of his offseason plans and potential list of needs to improve in the future, RSL's general manager elaborated a bit more on needed changes. Waibel said RSL's roster must further transform to fit the 4-3-3 formation at every position.
"We'll be able to make more changes, we'll be able to make more confident changes rather than possibly some substitutions that we hope can assert themselves within the system," he said. "I think we're getting very close to having a roster that represents this system and style of play and I think that's the other piece of the puzzle. [Jeff is] managing the game day and the day-to-day training, and my job is to kind of continue the growth of the roster to strengthen this formation that we're going into."
Cassar said he and Waibel have been bouncing ideas back and forth already how to accomplish that objective in such a short amount of time.
"[We're] coming up with a specific-type of player that we want at each position and sticking to it," Cassar said. "And if they don't have the attributes that we want, they won't be on our team. That doesn't necessarily have to be younger it can be any age but they just have to the standards that we're going to be setting."
» Herriman complex on track
By next summer, Waibel estimates RSL's Arizona-based soccer academy will be moved into its new full-time home in the Herriman soccer complex. Construction on the projected $50 million facility in Herriman, which broke ground in April, remains on target, Waibel said. The academy, residence hall and high school are set to be finished next summer.
"Certainly by beginning of 2018, that'll be the home of every one of our teams, and by summer next year, it'll be home of our academy, for sure," Waibel said.