Interim no longer: Pablo Mastroeni named Real Salt Lake head coach

Sports

SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The interim tag has been officially removed from Pablo Mastroeni’s title.

Real Salt Lake made it official on Monday, hiring Mastroeni as its permanent head coach after he led RSL to an improbable run to the Western Conference Final this past season.

“I am excited to be joining Real Salt Lake on a permanent basis,” said Mastroeni in a statement. “I love the direction this Club is moving in and I’m looking forward to working with all the resources and opportunities we have in front of us. We will implement an electric end-to-end style of play that brings our fans into the action and further solidifies the fortress that we call home. And we will continue to be a formidable foe on the road, just as we were during the end of our 2021 season.”

Mastroeni took over leadership of the team at the midpoint of this season, after Freddy Juarez left for an assistant coaching position with the Seattle Sounders.  Mastroeni posted an 8-8-1 mark the rest of the way, earning the 7th seed in the MLS playoffs after a last-minute goal from Damir Kreilach against Sporting Kansas City.

Under Mastroeni’s guidance, Real Salt Lake posted a 5-2-0 mark at its Rio Tinto Stadium, and scored 29 goals. RSL was shut out only once in those 17 games with Mastroeni at the helm.

“We are thrilled to have Pablo on board, long-term,” said RSL General Manager Elliot Fall. “We expect success for years to come under his leadership. Pablo’s ability to build a culture and instill belief within the Club has resulted in the most tight-knit locker room seen in years. We are excited for him to instill that throughout our entire organization.”

In the MLS Cup Playoffs, Real Salt Lake defeated Seattle in the first round, winning via a thrilling 6-5 shootout tiebreaker following a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes.

RSL advanced to face Sporting KC in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Club’s 10th appearance at that stage in 11 all-time postseason appearances. RSL won 2-1 with yet another come-from-behind win on a goal in stoppage time by Bobby Wood, reaching its fifth Western Conference Final.

Against the Portland Timbers, RSL fell 2-0, missing out on what could have been its third MLS Cup berth in 17 seasons since winning Cup in 2009.

Mastroeni was also the head coach of the Colorado Rapids from 2014-17, compiling a record 38-51-35 in three and a half seasons. In 2016, he was runner-up for MLS Coach of the Year.

Real Salt Lake will now turn its attention roster decisions, most notably to trying to re-sign captain Albert Rusnak, whose contract expired at the end of the season.

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