HERRIMAN, Utah (Monday, December 13, 2021) – Real Salt Lake has named former USA international, 2001 MLS Best XI player Pablo Mastroeni as the Club’s permanent head coach, RSL Interim President John Kimball announced today. Specific terms of the contract have not been disclosed, but the signing of Mastroeni solidifies a new era for RSL.
“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.”
Real Salt Lake will host media availability with Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni via zoom at 11:00 a.m. MT, the link for which can be found HERE.
Mastroeni, 45, arrived on the Wasatch Front in February of 2021, assuming the top assistant role on the Real Salt Lake technical staff, following a similar role with Houston Dynamo in 2020. Upon Freddy Juarez’ departure in late August, Mastroeni was immediately elevated to the role of interim manager, posting an 8-8-1 mark during all 2021 regular season competitions and leading RSL into its 11th postseason in 14 years as the seventh and final Western Conference Playoff team.
“I am excited to be joining Real Salt Lake on a permanent basis,” said Pablo Mastroeni. “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.”
With Mastroeni as manager, in a locker room buoyed by pride, belief and dedication to the group, Real Salt Lake posted a 5-2-0 (Win-Loss-Draw) mark at its Rio Tinto Stadium home in Sandy, and dropped back-to-back games just once, posting a 6-1-0 record in games following losses. Vacillating between 4-2-3-1 and 3-5-2 setups depending on injuries, player availability and opposing setups, RSL scored 55 goals in 2021, its second-highest total ever (2013). This past year, RSL managed 25 road goals scored, also its second-best ever (2013).
In the 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Real Salt Lake emerged victorious under Mastroeni’s leadership on the road in Seattle during Round One, winning via a thrilling 6-5 shootout tiebreaker following a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes. RSL advanced to face Kansas City in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Club’s 10th appearance at that stage in 11 all-time postseason appearances. RSL won 2-1 at Sporting with yet another come-from-behind win, reaching its fifth Western Conference Final at Portland on Dec. 4. Against the MLS Cup runner up Timbers, RSL succumbed 0-2, missing out on what could have been its third MLS Cup berth in 17 seasons since winning Cup in 2009.
As a player, Mastroeni served as a mentor to RSL icon Kyle Beckerman, when both shared the Miami Fusion FC locker room in the late 1990s, and shortly thereafter in Colorado. Mastroeni became a breakout star of the United States’ 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan Men’s National Team, barely appearing during qualifying to start at centerback against Portugal, Mexico and Germany in the USA’s thrilling run to the quarterfinal stage.
Four years later, Mastroeni started each of the first two games for the 2006 USA World Cup side in Germany, against Czech Republic and Italy. All told, the Phoenix, Ariz. native appeared in 65 games for the Stars and Stripes between 2001-09, playing for Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley
Last week, RSL announced several roster moves, returning 20 players – including 10 from the Club’s Academy/Monarchs homegrown pipeline – from the 2021 squad, which posted a 15-15-7 record across both MLS regular-season and MLS Cup Playoff competitions. That announcement arrived on the heels of a dynamic, inspiring and historic run to the Western Conference Final for just the fifth time in Club history, and the first since 2013.
As of Dec. 13, 2021, Real Salt Lake's current roster headed into 2022, listed alphabetically by position, is as follows:
Goalkeepers (3): Jeff Dewsnup, Zac MacMath, David Ochoa
Defenders (8): Andrew Brody, Toni Datkovic, Zack Farnsworth, Justen Glad, Bret Halsey, Aaron Herrera, Erik Holt, Marcelo Silva*
Midfielders (4):* Nick Besler, Maikel Chang, Damir Kreilach, Pablo Ruiz
Forwards (5): Bode Davis, Chris Garcia, Jonathan Menendez, Rubio Rubin, Bobby Wood
Key MLS Offseason Dates / Roster Mechanisms:
- Sun., December 12 – Half-day trade window
- Tue., December 14 – MLS Expansion Draft
- Wed., December 15 – End-of-Year Waivers / Free Agency opens
- Wed., December 15 – 2022 RSL / MLS Schedule released
- Fri., December 17 – Re-Entry Process, Stage 1
- Thu., December 23 – Re-Entry Process, Stage 2
- Tue., January 11 – 2022 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas
- Sun., January 16 – RSL players report to Herriman, Utah, for 2022 MLS Preseason
RSL returns to regular-season action on Sunday, February 27 to kick off the 2022 campaign at Houston Dynamo FC to open the Club’s 18th season. The following weekend, on Saturday, March 5, the Claret-and-Cobalt will return to Rio Tinto Stadium to host Seattle Sounders FC for the Home Opener. RSL in 2021 earned a 9-4-4 home record and set a new Club mark for most consecutive home wins, earning seven straight victories at the RioT.
2022 Season Tickets can be purchased at www.RSL.com/tickets, or by calling 844.Real.Tix.