SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Freddy Juarez is out as Real Salt Lake’s head coach.
The club made the announcement Friday that Juarez has decided to move on after two seasons as RSL’s head coach.
Assistant coach Pablo Mastroeni will take over as the interim coach and the search for a new head coach begins.
“It happened really quickly,” RSL general manager Elliot Fall said. “It was in the last 48 hours, we all sat down and realized this is where things were headed. Freddy expressed the desire to take an opportunity to move on.”
Juarez has reportedly left the team to become as assistant coach for the Seattle Sounders. Juarez may have seen the writing on the wall as far as his future with RSL, as the club had a team option on his contract in 2022. But Fall said those talks had not happened yet.
“There was no conversation throughout the year about Freddy’s future with the club beyond this year,” Fall said. “We had an option in the contract and the ability to keep him moving forward. But we all discussed that was an end of season conversation.”
Former Real Salt Lake executives Garth Lagerwey and Craig Waibel both work for Seattle, so Juarez is familiar with the Sounders leadership.
Juarez had been the head coach of RSL since August of 2019, when Mike Petke was fired for making insensitive remarks.
Juarez helped lead RSL to a third-place finish in the Western Conference and a berth in the Western Conference Semifinals. On December 3, 2020, Juarez was named the Head Coach of Real Salt Lake to become the fifth head coach in the team history.
Juarez joined the RSL organization in 2010, and became the first head coach of the Real Monarchs from 2014-16 before joining Petke’s staff with Real Salt Lake.
“Freddy’s record speaks for itself,” Fall said. “His impact will be felt around here for a long time.”
In 55 games as head coach, Juarez has a record of 18-23-14, including a 7-7-6 record this season. RSL is currently above the playoff line in the Western Conference in sixth place. The top seven teams make the postseason. RSL is currently preparing to face Vanouver on Sunday, and they were taken aback by the news.
“I think they were certainly surprised a bit,” Fall said. “But they’re professionals. For better or worse, this is a group that that has seen a lot of change and a lot of upheaval.”
Mastroeni, a 5-time MLS All-Star as a player, was the head coach of the Colorado Rapids from 2014-2017, compiling a record of 43-58-35. He was an assistant with the Houston Dynamo in 2020 before joining RSL as an assistant this season.
In 2016, Mastroeni led Colorado to the team’s all-time best record, finishing second in the Western Conference at 15-6-13, and advancing to the Western Conference Final.
“Despite only joining us prior to this season, Pablo Mastroeni knows our roster more intimately than anyone,” Fall said. “He is the ideal person to take the reins right now and continue our push for a playoff berth. We have the utmost confidence in his ability to maximize the talent on our roster in the short term.”
In the long term, the search for a permanent coach has already begun.
“We’re looking for someone who is going to come in and continue to maximize the talent on this roster,” Fall said. “We all believe that this is a club that has seen great heights in the past, and should be there again soon.”