This story has been updated to reflect an official announcement from Real Salt Lake.
Craig Waibel is returning to Real Salt Lake.
The news initially came out of an apparent publishing incident, which saw a link to the story available on the club website for a short time, which was noticed by multiple RSL Soapbox contributors.
After nearly a year of protracted public discussion about whether or not Waibel would return to the club in 2019, RSL’s general manager has apparently secured a now multi-year contract.
In a club-issued press release, RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen cited Waibel’s advancement of his vision.
“In speaking with Craig about the future of the club, we are collectively very optimistic and excited about the direction of RSL,” Real Salt Lake Owner Dell Loy Hansen said. “We share the same commitment to creating the best Academy and player development system in MLS and Craig has been successful in advancing that vision while signing key international players that create a playoff side. We are excited about the future of Real Salt Lake.”
From the release, RSL general manager Craig Waibel:
“I want to thank Mr. Hansen for putting the faith and trust in me over the last four years and continues to put in me moving forward. I’ve learned a lot in my time with RSL about how to build a team that is reflective of our club’s vision and the passion of our fanbase,” Waibel said. “We will continue to pursue the perfect storm where every movement of the team on and off the field is representative of the character of the fans that have been so supportive of Real Salt Lake since the inception. Together we will define the identity of who we are as a club on the pitch, in the stands and in the community.”
Waibel has been active in the offseason, so this news may have been understood as the case for some weeks now. The arrival of Donny Toia and the departure of Danilo Acosta, as well as the reported pursuit of Germán Cano, give credence to that notion.
Waibel has been a hot topic for Real Salt Lake fans for the better course of the year, with opinion generally split about his value.
Negatives have largely centered on Yura Movsisyan, who didn’t succeed under RSL coach Mike Petke but did well enough under former coach Jeff Cassar, and Alfredo Ortuño, who looks largely to be a miss.
Positives have focused on a wider swathe of player acquisitions; players like Damir Kreilach and Albert Rusnak have worked out very well for the club to this point.