It’s been an intensely exciting week in Real Salt Lake news, and it’s not all coming from the usual suspects: There are no transfer rumors to speak of, we haven’t made any hires, and we haven’t won anything.
This week, though, we got much bigger news than any of that could be: We’re getting a second top-tier team in Salt Lake County. We don’t know the name, but our NWSL team already has a coaching target.
RSL to NWSL in 15 days
There’s a new energy here in Salt Lake City, and it’s easy to tell why: We’ll have an NWSL team playing here next year. It came as a real surprise, because it seemed like something we’d be waiting a few more years for — and frankly, that was a little disappointing after Dell Loy Hansen had talked for years about it.
It turns out that disappointment was extremely ill-placed. Hansen, along with RSL general manager Craig Waibel, executed a deal to bring the league to Salt Lake City in what must be a record: 15 days from initial conversations to press conference.
One interesting piece of this is that we were apparently invited to discussions by Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. I’m not shocked that he and Hansen would have a good relationship, but given the animosity we’ve sometimes seen between the two sides, it’s a nice look behind the curtain we rarely get.
Recent reports have us looking at former Seattle Reign coach Laura Harvey, who only left the Reign earlier this month. She was reportedly seeking a new opportunity, and plenty of reports said she would be looking toward international coaching.
This news, then, comes at a particularly interesting time. Harvey penned her farewell only 11 days ago, well within the timeframe of our getting an NWSL team. Our entry into the conversation will certainly ruffle some feathers in the Pacific Northwest. If we do hire Harvey, it would be the first time we’d hired a coach anywhere in the organization that came with that sort of pedigree. Harvey won trophies in England with Arsenal (three consecutive league titles is no mean feat anywhere) and won the NWSL shield in 2015 with Seattle.
Bringing in a coach like Harvey would help as we attempt to very quickly build a competitive NWSL team — but it would also help as we start to look toward establishing an attitude and mentality as a team.
The end of FC Kansas City
All signs are pointing to FC Kansas City folding (opening the space for us), but there’s still little official news about that. Still, scattered reports have us holding some sort of contract rights to FCKC players, and Waibel has said he’d be in contact with some players, though he didn’t say specifically who they were or where they might be from.
Smart money right now is on some sort of legal kerfuffle, so we may be waiting a bit longer for real closure, but expect us to at least get some of their players over here. Who do they have, though? A few names include:
- Katie Bowen, a 23-year-old defender with 29 international appearances for New Zealand
- Sydney Leroux, USWNT forward and one of the best known players in the country
- Amy Rodriguez, a USWNT attacker with 130 appearances and 30 goals who has been involved at the international level since she was 18
- Becky Sauerbrunn, a center back with nearly 150 appearances for the U.S. national team
- Desiree Scott, a Canadian national teamer with 128 international appearances
All’s quiet on the RSL front
We’re still awaiting more news at Real Salt Lake on players, but maybe no news is good news. I’m still assuming we’ll bring back Kyle Beckerman, and I think there’s a good chance Nick Rimando sticks around, too. At this point, maybe we’ll wait until after the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft before making moves.
That’s coming up in a few weeks, but maybe we’ll see some news come out in the days before Thanksgiving. The Monday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27) is the option exercise deadline, so that might be the first real chance we’ll have to learn more. Time will certainly tell.
Caleb Porter is out at Portland
I’ve never been the biggest fan of Caleb Porter — I tend to think he can be tremendously overrated — but it’s hard to argue with the results over in Portland. He led them to an MLS Cup and twice ended as the top-ranked team in the Western Conference.
So why did he and his club part ways? That’s a question everyone’s asking. Everything talked about a “mutual” parting of ways, but that only means so much. Was he looking for a new challenge? Tired of the game? Looking to join a club where he has more sway over all decisions?
This is an interesting one, because Porter very much defined the Timbers culture over the last five years. They’ve been feisty and annoying and difficult to play against — and at the end for an opponent, you usually left hating Porter more than you did when you came in.
Perhaps there’s an opportunity that’s come up for Porter we just don’t know about. This will be an interesting one, whatever the case.