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Explaining RSL’s early season coaching change

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Why now? We’re looking back at Craig Waibel’s press conference statements.

Philadelphia Union v Real Salt Lake Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

With the firing of Jeff Cassar on everyone’s minds again owing to the hiring of Mike Petke in his stead, a big question keeps coming up: Why now? Why not later? Why not earlier?

There’s not an easy answer to any of these questions, but previous interviews with RSL general manager Craig Waibel helps lay out the rationale.

When saying there was no “smoking gun” in regard to Cassar’s firing, Waibel said on March 20 it was a lack of progress from the start of preseason that was the damning factor.

We’ve been in since January 20, and we’ve been evaluating since day one. The three games that have been played are the not the only things coming into play here.

The sense of urgency in our group is palpable, tangible. We felt today was the right day to do this and take the next step as an organization. ... There were considerable steps taken forward, but we feel the urgency and the progress being made at this moment, specifically since we checked into preseason, is a little bit behind where we want to be, so we made this decision.

But what was it that kept Cassar in the job moving into 2017?

Obviously, we felt strongly at the end of last year, and as you read int he press release, the results over the course of three seasons — we felt two years in the playoffs deserved a chance.

That may not be a satisfactory answer, but it does go some way toward explaining Real Salt Lake’s most tumultuous ten days in its history.