RS) For me, it has been a pretty seamless transition. In his first year, Cassar did not rock the boat. Part of why he got the head coaching job is because he argued that he would be the most logical choice given how long he was under the tutelage of Jason Kreis. Cassar knew that the RSL system was not broken and had no intention of fixing it, rather, he knew that the best was yet to come as evidenced by a lot of the young players just coming into their own over the 2013 season and the beginning of the 2014. This season, he has decided to adapt the RSL formation to a 4-3-3 which is probably a good weapon to have since a lot of teams have figured out how to shut down the diamond. So Cassar is starting to put his stamp on the club now.
I asked Luis Gil about the difference betweeen Cassar and Kreis and he said, "It's not much of a difference between the two. They've worked with each other for years and it's been a blessing to be able to have them both in the beginning of my career."
Seing Kreis in New York is sort of strange. I think he is under a lot of pressure to succeed right now and do it in style. We'll see if he can live up to expectations.
tBG) How will the new CBA rules effect a team like RSL that has always made a point to not overspend on talent?
RS) This is a tough question to answer with so few details to glean from, but I would be shocked if RSL decided to do anything besides spend wisely on their players as they have for the past six or seven years. The prime example of this is that Kyle Beckerman is not a Designated Player. Neither is Nick Rimando. Salt Lake is able to get very valuable pieces up and down the lineup that are willing to be here for the good of the team. That said, owner Dell Loy Hansen has been clear that he would like a big name player if they fit the RSL mold.
tBG) To mirror your question, what do RSL fans think of when the team meets the Union? What players stick out and why?
RS) I think RSL fans see the Union as still trying to find their way a bit but with a lot of good pieces in place. They are on the brink of breaking through and really having some sustained success in the league. The fans are passionate and some of the best in the league. I thought that Maurice Edu could have propelled Philadelphia to a successful run in the MLS Playoffs, but it typically takes a year or two for that to happen after the acquisition of a bigger name based on what other teams have done. The players that stick out are Maurice Edu, Conor Casey, and Sebastien Le Toux. Conor Casey takes RSL fans back to the best days of the Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids rivalry.
Predicted lineup: Nick Rimando; Demar Phillips, Chris Schuler, Jamison Olave, Tony Beltran, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Luis Gil, Sebastian Jaime, Alvaro Saborio, Olmes Garcia
Predicted score: 2-2