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.