MLS Daily: Real Salt Lake in need of a revival after sacking Jeff Cassar.

Daryl Shore will act as Interim Head Coach until a replacement is found, and will manage the team against New York Red Bulls on Saturday. 

The sacking of Jeff Cassar on Monday evening ended what can be best described as a turbulent last six months at Real Salt Lake.

After nearly a decade at the Utah based club, the 43-year old became the first managerial casualty of the 2017 MLS season.

RSL are winless so far this campaign, with one win and two defeats to their name, but their torrid run actually stretches back to the end of last season.

A 2-1 win at home to Colorado Rapids on the 26th August was the last time this side tasted victory-that was 11 games ago.

The poor run saw them slip from second in the Western Conference to sixth. They were then beaten 2-1 to LA Galaxy in the knockout round.

With the dismissal of Cassar, RSL will hopefully rediscover their form from years back, when current Orlando City boss Jason Kreis was in charge.

Kreis led the club to the Play-Offs consecutively between 2008-2013, winning the MLS Cup in 2009.

Cassar was assistant manager to Kreis back then, before taking over when the latter left for New York City FC.

The 43-year old stuck to Kreis’ successful 4-4-2 in 2014, which resulted in another Play-Off finish, but things began to unravel a year later.

Trying to implement his own style, Cassar switched to a 4-3-3 formation. With the wrong personnel to fit the formation, and a lack of goals being scored, RSL failed to make the Play-Offs in 2015. That was followed by the painful 2016 season as mentioned above.

It’s quite clear that a revival is needed at the Rio Tinto Stadium.

The club, unlike others, is struggling to acquire high calibre players such as Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and latest MLS newcomer Bastian Schweinsteiger. With better players coming through, and the leagues standards continuously improving, there has never been a more crucial time for designated players to come in and make a real difference for their team. Unfortunately, those at RSL aren’t quite to the same level as those at New York City or Orlando.

The spine of the side also presents fears of a bleak future. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando and midfielder Kyle Beckermann, both part of the successful 2009 side, are coming towards the end of their careers at 37 and 34 years of age respectively. Javier Morales, the heart of RSL’s flowing attack, left at the end of last season.

Those players will ultimately need replacing with good, young talent. However, according to transfermarkt.com, RSL have the second oldest squad in the league. This is just an example of what needs to be addressed.

Saying that, one thing the club can pride itself in is it’s impressive youth development. Homegrown players like defender Justin Glad have intergraded well into the first team setup and are now vital for the team going forward. More of the same will mostly definitely help the team in future seasons.

In terms of a replacement for Cassar, Toronto’s Assistant Coach Robin Fraser is one of the favourites for the job. The former Chivas USA manager has previous ties to RSL and could be good for what the club are looking to do, which is to rebuild from the ground up.

Other names mentioned include Wade Barrett, Mike Petke and sensationally Sigi Schmid.

Whoever comes in will have a lot to do if they want to make this club great again, and fans may have to wait a few years down the line before they see their club competing for major honours once again.

MLS Daily: Penalty king Nick Rimando could be crucial to Real Salt Lake.

The goalkeeper is a specialist when it comes to stopping spot-kicks. 

This is Nick Rimando’s tenth season at Real Salt Lake, but while he may feel like a piece of the old furniture nowadays, he is still a valuable asset for this young team.

The 37-year old is well known for his exceptional reflexes, which have made him one of the best goalkeepers in the MLS.

During Real Salt Lake’s 0-0 with Toronto last Saturday, Rimando saved a Sebastian Giovinco’s penalty- his tenth since 2010. No goalkeeper in the league has managed to save more than six in the same time period.

Overall, the American has made 29 career penalty saves. He holds the league record for appearances (425) and clean sheets (130). He also has 22 caps for the USA.

It has led many, including fellow countryman Tim Howard calling Rimando the ‘greatest goalie in MLS history’.

Having won the MLS Cup twice in his career, once with DC United in 2004 and the other with Real Salt Lake in 2009, Rimando knows the means of winning trophies- he has the experience that youngsters in the squad crave for.

After the 0-0 draw on Saturday, Rimando told the media:

“Our goalkeeping coach does a great job with the tapes. We study hard, we have a good idea of who will take the kick, which way they will go, so its up to us to guess that way.

“Hopefully the next penalty we give away will end the same way.”

Real Salt Lake have been in a transition for the last couple of seasons. Head Coach Jeff Cassar is trying to embed more youngsters into the side, and has seen progress being made.

In 2016, they made the Play-Offs; losing out to LA Galaxy 3-1 on aggregate. However, that didn’t keep key midfielder Javier Morales from leaving.

Albert Rusnak has come in for a $450,000 transfer fee from FC Groningen as his replacement. The 22-year-old will step into Morales’ playmaker role on a designated player contract and it will be interesting to see how the Slovakian performs in what are big shoes to fill.

Eight notable players in the Real Salt Lake squad are aged 22 or younger, and should all make their positions their own, this could become a dangerous side for years to come.

Rimando stands as the old guard with the new kids on the block protecting him. This blend could be just what Real Salt Lake need to push themselves up the Western Conference and challenge once again for the MLS Cup.