Real Salt Lake: Defending Coach Jeff Cassar

Real Salt Lake's Jeff Cassar

Fans are calling for his head. Give him the boot. The game is beyond him. He is a better assistant. On and on they go. Don’t believe me? Go check out their Instagram account after the Open Cup Semi Final loss. Let me tell you what, Jeff Cassar isn’t giving me too much to work with.

Needless to say, Coach has taken a lot of heat this year for his decisions, formation changes, and tactics. With only 29 points so far this season and 10 games remaining, the playoffs are going to be hard to make. Fans are upset. Dropping point after point at home, when the RioT used to be a “Fortress” seems uncharacteristic. Losing leads late in the game, bleeding goals, 13 in the last 4 matches across all tournaments to be exact. For a team that has made the playoffs 7 years in a row, had 15 wins and 50 points five years in a row, being on the outside looking in is not a position the fan base is used to. Since 2009 RSL have gotten used to being at the very least, contenders.

I don’t think the fans are misguided to want their team to win. They want to see their team compete. They pay for their seats, they buy the merchandise, they give a piece of their heart to the welfare of the team. They want to cheer for winners. Winning, competing, explains the growth of the Season Ticket Holders numbers to over 15,000 this season.

But game after game, after losses and ties that could started in winning positions, is a coaching change the right thing? I waiver back and forth. But to all those who are calling for a change in the coaching position, let me at least make an excuse to keep Cassar.

Injuries have plagued RSL all season. It started with Plata breaking a bone in his foot the first day of training camp. Demar Phillips was banged up at the beginning of the season. After a scorcher of a start of the season, Javier Morales got a concussion and missed several games. Schuler went out with a knee injury and has played in only 5 games. Olave went down with a groin issue and has played in half of RSL’s games and been red carded twice. Jordan Allen has been injured recently. Plata, as recently as Monday, strained a hamstring and was ruled out of Wednesday night’s loss to Sporting KC.

International duty saw Captain Kyle Beckerman, All-Time Leading Goalscorer Alvaro Saborio, Hall of Fame Goal Keeper Nick Rimando, Elias Vasquez, and Demar Phillips take time off to play for their country’s national team. Jordan Allen left for the U-20 World Cup.

Cassar has been forced to start a myriad of different lineups due to all the injuries and call ups. There has been no consistency and that isn’t his fault. You can only play the guys are are available to play. That is really his only defense…but it may be enough.

Teaching a new system and having players learn that new system is difficult and time consuming in practice and during games when your roster is in constant flux. New pairings at center back, different forwards in different places. Guys are playing out position in some cases to fill the void. The chemistry and familiarity isn’t there right now.

It has been a rough season for everyone associated with Real Salt Lake. All I can really say is that it is hard to bake a cake using a new recipe when you are missing the flour, sugar, and eggs.

Don’t get me started on what he can control.