On Tuesday afternoon, Real Salt Lake announced a series of promotions within the organization. Most notably Freddy Juarez and Elliot Fall dropped their interim tags and are now the head coach and general manager respectively. Dan Egner was also promoted to technical director and longtime RSL right back Tony Beltran was officially announced as an assistant general manager, as owner Del Loy Hansen had mentioned on the radio several week ago.
Our staff responds to these changes to Real Salt Lake’s front office:
Bringing on Freddy as head coach isn’t surprising after a successful stint as the interim head coach. He’s earned the chance after serving in the academy, being the head coach of the Monarchs, an assistant, and an interim head coach. During his interim stint, he had a 60% win rate, which is 4.8% higher than Jason Kreis’ record, though Juarez’s sample size is much smaller (15 games vs Jason’s 261). That win percent is significantly higher than Petke’s 48.9%. Freddy is clearly more tactically minded than Petke, though the substation patterns still frustrate me.
Elliot Fall as general manager is ok as well. He’s another guy who has spent a long time in the org and has earned the chance at the job. He seems like a smart guy, but I wonder if his lack of a professional playing career will hurt him. Waibel and Lagerwey were both professional players before eventually becoming GMs. Overall, these seems like easy and safe hires for Hansen, which isn’t necessarily bad. I’m not sure either will shake things up too much, and I think that’s what Hansen wants. These two represent safe and smart promotions, even if they aren’t glamorous. If Kreis had returned to RSL, it’s unclear what would have happened to Freddy and Elliot, and there’s a sense of plan B here. What I do like is there seems to be a clear vision for how the org is run, and that’s important. Also, keeping Beltran around is a big win.
Honestly, I’m underwhelmed. These two hires are a surprise to nobody, despite what feels like the majority of fans holding their breath in hopes that Dell Loy had secretly hired someone else. This really feels like a copout from Hansen, who has a track record of playing it safe and easy. Jeff Cassar was promoted to the permanent head coach position in 2014, and we all remember how well that turned out. Even Mike Petke was technically an “inside hire” after he was brought on as the Real Monarchs head coach just months before taking the reins of the first team. So what’s the issue here — is Hansen lazy? Is he afraid to look outside the organization? Is he too cheap to bring someone else in with a higher price tag? Aside from the Jason Kreis interview rumors, it was radio silence as far as other candidates go. Not even a rumbling. Did he reach out to anyone else?
I don’t mean any disrespect to Juarez or Fall. They’ve both been with the club for years and years, and clearly have done a good enough job thus far and clearly will take their best shot. Freddy has been instrumental in this organization for a decade, and had a good (albeit sometimes frustrating) showing as head coach for the second half of last season. My issue isn’t with either of them in the slightest. Maybe I’m just reacting emotionally because after the rollercoaster year we had in 2019, I expected some shake ups and some bigger moves than just the simple “next in line” decision, which DLH has shown us he’ll pretty much always choose. Only time will tell if these two guys will perform well enough to be in it for the long haul. If not, then I suspect we’ll be having this same conversation next time around.
I reckon you would have to have spent the last 3 months in a cave to have not known this was coming, which is both a good and a bad thing.
It’s good because, I think, we’ve seen through the chaos of the end of this season that both Freddy and Elliot can be a pair of steady hands going forward. They were both in a “second in command” type position and the move to “interim” was pretty straight forward. All of the potential pans in theoretical fires wouldn’t have been too unsettled by the move.
However, I think a lot of us are waiting for a day that we see a bit of “oomph” from a decision the club makes. It’s nice to have such a solid staff that people can step up when needed to, but when you operate like that you are continually carrying the same behaviors and mentality forward. There’s no fresh start or reset to everything. If something is broken, it continues to be broken.
Freddy Juarez deserves a full season at the helm. Elliot Fall deserves (at least) a season in the captains chair. I just hope that, should their tenure in command not prove fruitful, we’ll see an actual changing of the guard in the future.
Similarly to what my fellow writers have said, I’m not surprised by this. This is the through and through RSL thing to do. Freddy Juarez is only even with the first team because of RSL’s history of promoting within. Juarez was promoted all the way up from Real Monarchs head coach to first team head coach, seems like the pipeline works for head coaches too.
Again, Fall does the same thing. Promoting from within. Giving people chances to prove themselves in the lower leagues and growing up into the big roles from there. Not a surprise that he was the one selected as well.
Relatively, 2019 was successful. At the end of the day we wanted to go farther, but in July if you said we’d even make the playoffs, all our fans would be happy. These two played a role in the turnaround last year, it’s only fair to see if they can continue it further in 2020.
However, every now and again I do wish that RSL would shake things up a bit and find someone from outside the club. Though, Juarez and Fall are still great people to have around and no disrespect to them, they just have to put the product on the field now. If we have to have this conversation again next offseason, I think then its time for RSL to go outside of themselves and shake it up.
One day, I’d really like to be the one Soapbox staff writer to offer a different opinion from all the others above... however today is not this day. It’s a great day for Elliot Fall and Freddy Juarez, but is it a great day for RSL? For that only time will tell. If you’ve read the comments above, you will have noted the terms “plan B”, “cop out”, and “safe pick” bandied about, and sadly that is exactly what we have come to expect from our team ownership. DLH will splash wads of cash on infrastructure because he can see the physical value in that. But when it comes to players, the only value he can see is short-term. Why get a big-name star from the EPL, when a half-priced also-ran from a backwater will do - now I’ll agree that some of our picks that fit that mold have done very well for us (Albert, Damir, and Nedum), but that’s just where we found two of the 3.
With RSL’s excellent training facility it’s likely we could attract some familiar names from overseas, perhaps not a major superstar the likes of Javier Hernández, or Messi, but decent players that are currently relegated to being substitutes may be lured to RSL for better playing time, excellent facilities - and the right stipend. Therein lies the rub. With a known name playing, RSL would certainly attract more butts in the seats, and everything that comes along with it (concessions, jersey sales, etc...); will it ever happen under current ownership? I won’t even bet a buck on it.
What are your thoughts on these staff changes? Let us know in the comments below: