RSL midfielder Sebastian Velasquez made a big change late last week, breaking our hearts by cutting his signature rattail last Thursday.
— SeBasTian VeLasQueZ (@TiaN_Futbol) January 17, 2014
Velasquez has had a wild ‘do since being drafted by RSL in 2012, with his trademark bleached Mohawk/rattail combo earning plenty of love – and a little consternation – across the Wasatch Front. His hair even earned him a nickname among the RSL faithful, with fans dubbing him Rufio in honor of a look-alike character from the early-90’s movie Hook.
Here’s another peek at Velasquez’s new look:
— SeBasTian VeLasQueZ (@TiaN_Futbol) January 19, 2014
We’ll talk to Seba – and his teammates – about rattail-gate when preseason opens later this week. Stay tuned...
Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jeff Cassar stopped by ABC 4's Real Sports Live on Sunday night, sitting down with ABC 4's Wesley Ruff for an interview.
Cassar and Ruff rapped for a few minutes, with RSL's new boss chatting about his hiring process, his desired style of play, his initial thoughts on the job and a few of his favorite things. Check out the full interview up above.
RSL's commentary team of Bill Riley and Brian Dunseth also chatted about RSL, breaking down a few things ahead of the team opening preseason camp on Saturday. Give their segment a watch here.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Chris Kamrani wrote a very nice piece Thursday afternoon on RSL first round SuperDraft pick Ryan Neil. The piece is a great introduction to the Cal-Berkeley product, who projects as a defender for the Claret-and-Cobalt. Give it a read here.
Neil shared several interesting details with Kamrani, with one of the more interesting tidbits coming at the end of the piece. As Kamrani notes, Neil has ties to Utah, with his older sister having attended BYU, often going to RSL matches at Rio Tinto Stadium when she lived in in the Beehive State. The 22-year-old California-native visited his sister in Salt Lake on multiple occasions, and quickly became a fan.
Here’s the money quote, as told to Kamrani: “I’ve been to Salt Lake many times,” Neil said, “and I love it.”
And for those of you wondering, no, Neil is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. His sister, however, is LDS.
@pupusa no but my sister is!
— Ryan Neil (@_Ryanneil) January 16, 2014
Real Salt Lake selected defender Ryan Neil in the first round of Thursday's 2014 MLS SuperDraft , drafting the University of California outside back with the 18th overall pick.
Check out highlights from Neil's four-year career at Berkeley above.
(And yeah, we're aware he's listed as a midfielder in the video. He'll line up as a defender for RSL.)
Real Salt Lake Analyst Brian Dunseth – a.k.a. the hardest working man in MLS – is in Philadelphia this week, where he’ll host the 2014 MLS SuperDraft from the Penn Convention Center on Thursday morning.
Dunny will be working the in-house crowd at the SuperDraft, but you’ll likely see at least a cameo or two of him on the ESPNews broadcast of the event, which will begin at 10 a.m. MT on Thursday. The SuperDraft consists of four rounds this year, with the first two rounds held Thursday in Philly and rounds three and four held next Tuesday via conference call.
Real Salt Lake has one pick on Thursday, with the Claret-and-Cobalt holding the 18th overall selection in the first round. RSL does not currently have a second round selection, but the team does have a pick in both the third and fourth rounds, owning the 53rd and 70th overall selections.
Make sure you tune-in to the SuperDraft on ESPNews on Thursday morning – and look for Dunny!
U.S. Soccer recently sat down with RSL’s Luis Gil, Colorado’s Shane O’Neill and Seattle’s Deandre Yedlin at the USMNT’s training camp, talking to the three former U-20 teammates about their experiences at their first senior camp.
Check out the video above to hear the 20-year-old Gil’s thoughts on being with the senior team. Sounds like Luis’s experience has been a positive one so far.
Gil, O’Neill, Yedlin, RSL’s Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando and the rest of the national team left Southern California on Sunday, heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil for a 12-day training camp at the site of this summer’s World Cup. The 26-man USMNT roster will return to California later this month, wrapping camp with a Feb. 1 friendly against South Korea. Gil, Beckerman and Rimando will join RSL’s preseason camp following the Feb. 1 match at StubHub Center.
U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced on Sunday that all 26 players in the USMNT's annual January camp will travel to Brazil for 12 days of training in a "dry run" for this summer's World Cup.
RSL's Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil and Nick Rimando will all travel to Brazil with the USMNT. Klinsmann initially planned to trim the roster to 23 players for the trip to Brazil, but an excellent week of training determined the entire 26-man group would travel.
"We have been extremely pleased with the performance of the group in the first week," Klinsmann said on USsoccer.com. "The players came in very fit and have done really well in training. Therefore, we believe they have all earned a chance to go to Brazil for these next 12 days. We are excited about getting down to Sao Paulo and continuing the work. This is a huge opportunity to get to know our environment for the World Cup."
Beckerman, Gil, Rimando and the rest of the USMNT will finish off camp on Feb. 1, when they'll take on South Korea at 3 p.m. MT at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The RSL trio will join the Claret-and-Cobalt for its second leg of preseason in Irvine, Calif. on Feb. 4.
Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey had his weekly interview on ESPN700’s “The Bill & Hans Show” on Wednesday, spending a portion of his interview talking with the guys about RSL’s assistant coaching hires.
Here’s what Lagerwey had to say on the Claret-and-Cobalt’s new assistants Andy Williams, Daryl Shore, Paul Dalglish and Craig Waibel. Check out Garth’s entire interview here.
On RSL’s new assistant coaches:
“I’m really excited about them, really excited to have Paul and Andy and Craig and Daryl Shore on our team, and really excited to continue the direction that we’ve had and the philosophy that we’ve had as an organization.”
“When looking at the staff as a whole, we were really trying to get the feeling we had back in 2008. We’re hopeful that we’ve done that and we’re excited to get to work with all these guys.”
On Andy Williams:
“Andy has done a great job for us as our head scout over the last couple of seasons, but he really wanted to try and join the coaching staff full-time, so we promoted him. We expect him to do a great job with the young players in [the midfield] position, specifically Luis Gil and Sebastian Velasquez while still being able to relate to the veterans he played with in Kyle, Ned and Javi.
On Daryl Shore:
"With Daryl, he’s a guy with 10 years of experience in the league, he has head coaching experience – which I think was important to Jeff as a new head coach – and he’s someone that’s trained a number of MLS All-Stars and MLS Goalkeepers of the Year in his previous stint.”
On Paul Dalglish:
“Paul’s a guy who has an incredible pedigree. He was Coach of the Year in the PDL last year, played for the Houston Dynamo and won a couple of MLS Cups there, [has head coaching experience], and is a very experienced guy, who’s been involved with youth development. Those were things that we wanted to have across all of the candidates.
On Craig Waibel:
“Craig Waibel was a longtime defender in the league, he won four titles and the staff as a whole has now won eight titles total. That was something we cared about, having a coach for each position was something we cared about, we wanted coaches with experience developing young players, and we wanted coaches with head coaching experience, and we’ve got all of that.”
With the announcement of Jeff Cassar as Real Salt Lake head coach, we've all waited with baited breath to see what his first move would be. That first move came Wednesday as Cassar named four assistant coaches - Daryl Shore, Craig Waibel, Andy Williams, and Paul Dalglish. Obviously a lot remains to be seen, but on the surface these look like very intelligent hires by Cassar.
Cassar continued Real Salt Lake’s philosophy of having position-specific coaches (think coordinators in American football), finding assistants with professional coaching and playing experience to help out at all four levels of the field.
Daryl Shore (goalkeepers) was a professional goalkeeper for six years, a head coach in the lower leagues, and was goalkeeper coach with the Chicago Fire for 11 years, mentoring several great shot-stoppers while in Chicago. Craig Waibel (defenders) was a solid MLS center back during his 11-year career, best known as a key piece of that great Houston Dynamo era of the mid 2000's. His background should remind RSL fans of past defensive coaches Robin Fraser and C.J. Brown. Andy Williams (midfielders) is likely the most familiar name in the bunch for RSL faithful as he's been involved with the team since the beginning, and he was a pretty good MLS midfielder to boot. Paul Dalglish (strikers) had a long career at forward in England and Scotland before moving to MLS where he won two MLS Cups alongside Waibel in Houston. Since then he's done a stint as an MLS academy coach and had two head coaching gigs in the NASL and USL PDL.
With these hires, Cassar has sent a clear message about his philosophy and vision of RSL. As players, the four assistants fit well into the RSL mold: Down-to-earth, hard-working, team-first guys who were respected and liked within their teams. What these hires tell me is the core principles that have made RSL such a successful small-market team aren't going to change much. The team will continue to be the star, and the chemistry in the locker room will continue to be paramount.
Obviously Jeff Cassar still has a long ways to go toward proving himself, but the assistant coach hires he just made are an excellent first step.