Jamison Olave's return to Real Salt Lake for another season has ruffled some feathers among some Real Salt Lake fans, but RSL general manager Craig Waibel has made his reasons perfectly clear.
In an interview with RSL's Director of Media Services, Matt Gaschk, Waibel laid out why Real Salt Lake signed Jamison Olave to a new contract.
That full interview is very much worth listening to (seriously — there's a lot of stuff there), as Waibel speaks openly and frankly about the moves the club's discussions with the player.
Waibel didn't exactly mince words when referencing Olave's troubled start to the season.
"Even without the injury, I felt he played a little uninspired," he said. "He and I sat down about halfway through the season and talked about it during his injury, that I didn't feel that his performances warranted a new contract at the time, and really warranted the attention that I felt he should gain and gather if he's performing to his best."
After that conversation, Olave stepped his game up, Waibel said.
"To Jamison's credit, I feel that in the last 10 games of the season, he really proved that he has the durability and the ability to continue to play," Waibel said. "He really re-established himself as a durable, strong, competitive leader."
Improvement aside — or at least as a secondary consideration for a moment — With CONCACAF Champions League knockout rounds coming up, and with Chris Schuler — a question mark already, given he's out of contract and not a lock to return in any case — not being expected to return after his surgery until the season's start.
"Further on into the decision, I have to evaluate — we have Champions League at the beginning of the year, Chris Schuler has had a surgery ... he's supposed to be getting healthy right around the start of the season, but we need to make sure that we have the right players to put on the field for those champions league games that are extremely important for our club."
So there you have it: Waibel's two big reasons are that Olave showed that he can still hold his own, and that, even if he's third or fourth choice at some point, we'll still need a veteran player in CONCACAF Champions League play.