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The Salt: Chaos reigns at RSL with Juarez exit, as usual

Have we lost anything now, or did we lose it a long time ago?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Well. Here we are.

We’ve been here before — or at least variations of “here” — repeatedly.

2017, Jeff Cassar. Fired a month or so after the season started for the team’s performance.

2019, Mike Petke. Fired in August after he verbally abused and harassed a referee with a homophobic Spanish-language slur.

2021, Freddy Juarez. Quit in August to join Seattle Sounders as an assistant coach.

Every two years, we’ve gone through coaching upheaval. Each time, there’s been a ready-made replacement waiting in the wings. A replacement that will last two years before things fall apart in one way or another.

Chaos reigns, I guess.

It’s weird to have a coach step down, isn’t it? Midseason? Typically when coaches step down, it’s because of some off-field scandal — this isn’t that. (I sincerely hope it’s not. That would be the worst. I don’t have any reason to think there’s a scandal here, thankfully.) This is a coach leaving for a better opportunity.

That better opportunity is the part that stings — assistant coach at Seattle Sounders. In any other context, that seems like a step down. We all know it’s not a step down, of course. The uncertainty at the club has hurt Juarez as much as anyone else. (OK — not anyone else, if we’re being totally honest. But as much as most.)

I think it’s fair to say that Elliot Fall as general manager has over-performed the expectations we had for him in terms of roster construction (one of the few pieces of his job we have visibility into), but there is only so much he can do. At Seattle, their financial capabilities are substantial, and that would help any coach.

Here’s the thing, though. Juarez stepped down in the middle of the season, and it probably leaves us in a bit of a lurch. Or maybe it doesn’t, and honestly, if it doesn’t, I have questions. Concerns. Musings. I don’t know.

Beyond that: This is one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in my time writing about this club. Presumably the club could have kept him tied to his contract through the year, but comments point to this being at least somewhat amicable. It’s interesting, isn’t it? I don’t know how to feel about it, if we’re being totally honest. Does it mean that the club thought they’d be fine without him? Or that it was better to have somebody fully committed to the club? Or that it was simply a good opportunity for Freddy, and they didn’t plan to renew his contract anyway? It’s a puzzle.

Here’s the thing that really brings me down. We’re all acknowledging that being an assistant coach in Seattle is a great opportunity for Freddy Juarez. He’s acknowledged that himself by taking that position. The club more or less acknowledged that by letting him walk.

That, quite frankly, stings. I want this club to be able to provide the best opportunities for up-and-coming coaches. We didn’t do that, and in our failure to do that, we have lost a proven asset in developing young players. Aaron Herrera, Justen Glad, Andrew Brody, Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Saucedo, Carlos Salcedo — these are notable players, and there are many more that we haven’t even listed here.

And in all that, we’ve not just lost a person who developed some of our best homegrowns, but we’ve lost him to a rival that’s trying to get better at building out their academy and youth development infrastructure.

That’s the thing that stings. Not being out a coach — I think we’ll be just fine with Pablo Mastroeni, even if I’m having trouble getting over his history with this fine club. It’s what we’ve lost, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, we lost that a long time ago, and maybe it’s just drudging up the past.