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The Salt: Understanding Real Salt Lake in 2021

It feels a bit like we’re in the middle of a blizzard, despite unseasonal temperatures in Salt Lake.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

In what is somewhat surprising fashion, given Real Salt Lake is still under Dell Loy Hansen’s ownership with the MLS deadline for a sale approaching, moves have started to happen — from coaching to player contracts.

All reports indicate these moves are happening by and large because the team has 2020 money left they can spend — non-discretionary allocation money, mostly. And while it sounds like I’ve just made up a new MLS currency, I assure you, I haven’t. Some allocation money — largely of the targeted sort — can only be accessed by discretionary spending by owner-investors, and there’s certainly no reason for Dell Loy Hansen to be doing that.

Of course, I should also note that there are rumblings that Dell Loy Hansen is still involved in the organization in some respects pending the sale, and while they’re not specific about how, it makes for a slightly perplexing way to start the year.

FOR SALE: One Real Salt Lake, slightly used

This is the big one. Real Salt Lake is still for sale. The sale is still pending. No buyer is known at this time, but reports indicate Ryan Smith, Qualtrics billionaire and majority owner of the Utah Jazz, is still very much interested. Speculation is that he’s waiting out Dell Loy Hansen — and that’s happening soon, as MLS will take over the sale of the club on January 8. Don’t be surprised if things progress quickly at that point.

An assistant coach poach

No, this is not some cannibal dish for sale in Wisconsin. This is how we landed former Colorado Rapids player and coach, Pablo Mastroeni, paying $50,000 in allocation money to Houston Dynamo. That’s not a massive amount, but it’s also not insubstantial. If it were real money, we’d have no chance to have spent it with Dell Loy Hansen’s ownership clock ticking.

The Mastroeni move is interesting. It’s weird. I don’t know how I feel about it. But I guess I’m happy we have a coach, and I’m happy the organization is moving forward in some capacity, so I guess there’s that.

A former promising striker signed

How should we feel about Rubio Rubin signing? I actually think it’s a great move, supposing he’s not the big-name signing we need to move forward. Instead, he could be a great choice off the bench. He showed in San Diego from September to ... September (it was a short run) that he could score goals — both good and mundane — and that’s not a bad player to have around. He also undoubtedly comes in well under the designated player mark, and almost certainly under the targeted-allocation-money-player mark. See, we don’t have that money to spend, after all.

Now, Rubin could turn out to be a bust. That’s fine! But it’s only fine if we sign somebody to lead the line who isn’t a bust. We certainly know that Rubin is a wild card signing, given he’s yet to see sustained success at a club level.

Feeling old? Justen Glad is (almost) 24

We re-signed Justen Glad to a four-year deal. His birthday is at the end of February (at least this year — just wait until 2024!), and he’ll be 24 at that time. Weird, huh? Anyway, we can assume he’s not been signed to a designated player deal (nor would it make any sense) and I don’t think he’s on TAM-level money, either (though he might be.) Again, that’s really the only possible solution because of our ownership situation.

What’s next?

The sale’s the big one. January 8 is the deadline. I imagine it’s through end-of-business on the 8th (but I am not certain), so I’m not expecting much that day. (Of course, I’ll probably prewrite something, just to be on the safe side.)