The move was reported late last week by The RSL Show, with confirmation coming today from the club.
Mastroeni was an assistant coach at Houston Dynamo in 2020; to facilitate the move, RSL sent $50,000 in general allocation money to the Texas side.
From a club-issued release, RSL coach Freddy Juarez:
“Pablo is a great fit for us for three main reasons – his experience as a coach, his experience as a player and his reputation as a great person. He has the experience of being a head coach in this league. He understands the demands of this league as a coach and as a player. As a player, he brings a high pedigree as an international player that played in a World Cup. We are a young and developing team and we need people that have been there and seen it. On top of that, he’s a great person and for me that was important.”
Mastroeni, in the release:
“What really resonated with me was the culture that Freddy is building, how he goes about his work and how I’d be utilized,” Mastroeni said. “One of the things that I think is really important is culture. If the environment is great, you increase your odds of having a great campaign and I look forward to contributing to that with the staff at Real Salt Lake.”
It’s a bit of a puzzling one, with Mastroeni famously taunting Real Salt Lake supporters nearly two decades ago by stuffing his shirt in his shorts following a match at Rice Eccles Stadium in 2006, helping light the flames of a rivalry. He’d hardly be the first to turn sides on that one: Kyle Beckerman and Chris Wingert both moved from the Rapids to RSL in mid-2007, and Nat Borchers changed sides to RSL after a spell overseas.
One is left wondering about the implications of the move: Is Mastroeni being put in for a potential head coach gig if Freddy Juarez doesn’t pull RSL out of the tailspin they ended 2020 with?