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RSL names Pablo Mastroeni one of Juarez’s assistants

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Yes, that Pablo Mastroeni.

Galaxy v Rapids Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

In what is one of the more puzzling moves of 2020, Real Salt Lake has announced that Pablo Mastroeni, former Colorado Rapids player and coach, has joined the organization as an assistant coach.

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?