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RSL scouting strategy continues apace with Waibel's step up, MLS-enforced change

An altered states joke, anyone?
An altered states joke, anyone?
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

When Andy Williams joined Jeff Cassar's coaching staff in 2014, Real Salt Lake's single year of having a dedicated scout were gone.

Williams, who now coaches RSL's midfield in addition to his head scout responsibilities, helped build up the system as a player then as a scout, but it's the shared scouting responsibilities that might be more definitive and meaningful.

The common strategy among the clubs investing resources in scouting is to keep a dedicated scouting staff, and it's something former Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey remarked on to press in his new Seattle job. Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart reporting that Lagerwey was "excited to find out that Seattle has scouts."

Of course, it's rarely that simple, but Lagerwey's excitement about that belies the fact that Real Salt Lake has historically done well in identifying talent, with the GM kicking in some of the contribution there.

Under technical director Craig Waibel, that same joint strategy has continued.

"We're constantly identifying players," Waibel said in an interview on Saturday. "This is a heavily involved staff when it comes to scouting because we don't have that particular position solely responsible for it."

Of course, Waibel understands that it's not all positivity without a dedicated scouting staff, but emphasized its many positive qualities.

"There are many advantages to it," he said. "The disadvantage is time - do you have the time to do both efficiently? I think last year, we did a really good job with the group of continuing the success on the field, but also looking at players and having lists and having moves to be made."

Having those lists was essential to planning for inevitable change coming from MLS expansion, Waibel said.

"We knew there was a coach in New York that had a very familiar feel for every one of our players, and so we knew we'd be losing two," he said.

He wasn't wrong: Ned Grabavoy and Chris Wingert were picked up by New York City FC in the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft, leaving Real Salt Lake with some obvious areas of weakness. With Nat Borchers leaving just days before Grabavoy and Wingert, too, positional needs became obvious for Waibel.

"We were able to focus on Demar and guys like him," Waibel said. "We knew these were positions we were going to need. We knew we were going to need a strong center back with experience, so is there someone better than Jamison that we are comfortable bringing in? In the end, obviously we answered that."