SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A lot has been made of the previous year at Real Salt Lake. Dealing with the pandemic and the challenges that presented themselves was the least of the club’s worries when you consider the drama off the pitch.
Lessons Learned Through Heartache
Although the club will never detail everything that was transpiring within the working environment, the fanbase understands that the previous administration was running the club into the ground.
It was not a healthy work environment and employees were losing faith that anything would change.
But then it did.
Dell Loy Hansen, much to his surprise, put himself on a radio station he owned and made comments that offended the greater community after RSL and LAFC opted to postpone their match in an effort to further utilize their platform and send a message.
Well, that drama led to a flurry of further events that would ultimately lead to Hansen selling the club to the league and having no further part in the daily operations.
But unfortunately, the drama surrounding Hansen, combined with the pandemic and the fight for unified social justice, led to a very disappointing season for RSL and although the club may never admit to it, it was rather apparent that the off the pitch scandal and drama has ultimately taken a toll on the playing group which contributed to the poor performances.
Manager Freddy Juarez knew that something had to change if he planned on keeping his role going forward. He swallowed all of his pride and dignity and listened to his heart.
He made the incredibly difficult decision to part ways with his assistant coaches and in turn, begin to search for assistants that could help change the culture of the club.
“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” Juarez said in a press conference. “I had to make a decision for the betterment of the club and the team and it was not easy. I had a lot of sleepless nights. It was not fun and it was not something I had ever contemplated on doing during the season.”
“You have to look at yourself in the mirror after a season like we had and if you want to get better, if you really care about the club and the team, you have to figure out ways to do it,” Juarez continued. “That meant getting me out of my comfort zone and having to make tough decisions.
Juarez, as any good manager does, had a vision as to how he wanted the day-to-day operations to be like at RSL while he was still in charge. He is a firm believer in “positive energy” and loving your job. “I love coming to work, I think you have to love coming to work,” Juarez said.
Furthermore, Juarez acknowledged the negativity that had surrounded the club for many years had likely affected certain individuals. He knew that new faces would alter the dynamic of the culture immediately. RSL has always been known as a club that promotes from within and very rarely leaves its bubble to hire new faces, especially on the coaching staff.
Positive energy is the secret to Juarez and his coaching philosophy. Without it, and RSL will likely plummet into the depths of Major League Soccer again, but with it, well, so far through two games RSL remains as the only club to not drop a point in 2021.
The positive energy is working, it seems.
RSL is slated to host San Jose Earthquakes this Friday evening at 7 p.m.
As always, the match can be streamed for free via the KSL 5 TV app or on KSLSports.com.