Last week was a busy Thanksgiving weekend for Real Salt Lake General Manager Craig Waibel and Head Coach Jeff Cassar.  While much of America was out Black Friday shopping, Waibel and Cassar were doing some shopping of their own in Argentina.  It wasn’t a stunning deal on a television or the latest in great holiday bargains that had people lining up for hours outside department and electronic stores around the country.


Instead, they were in search of the next great addition to Real Salt Lake’s roster from a land that has already produced RSL standouts Javier Morales, Juan Manuel Martinez and Sebastian Jaime, as well as former All-Star in the Claret-and-Cobalt in Fabian Espindola.


“It was a lot of fun to get down there, but for us it was about trying to identify some individuals,” Waibel said in a wide-ranging interview on the Claret-and-Cobalt Daily podcast on Wednesday.  We need to evolve.  We need to make some changes.  If there was one singular focus of the trip it was to identify players and we were able to identify a few.”


Cassar and Waibel spent time with various clubs around Buenos Aires, getting to know the culture, the staffs and the players in the process.  With a limited window of time to spend in the city, they made the most of it while scouting players, meeting with agents and touring club facilities.


One thing that stood out to Waibel on the trip – in addition to the wealth of talent that could contribute at the MLS level – was the rich history and the ways in which the clubs and their supporters embrace that history.


“The whole purpose of the trip was to go down and really familiarize myself with Argentine soccer and the setup and structure within the country.  To that point, it worked out really well,” Waibel said.  “The number one thing that you see, you hear, you know, but it is visual when you are there in the environment is the history.  The pictures on the walls, the trophies in the cases.  The people and knowledge of the sport.  They all know the history of the club they’re in.  It’s very storied.  It’s very respected.  Because their culture is all really soccer-oriented, it was a bit overwhelming.  You could talk to the youngest guy you saw and he knew everything about the club he was at.”


In addition to meetings with individuals who could someday make their marks at RSL, Waibel and Cassar also met with Morales, Martinez and Jaime, seeing the trio on their home turf.


Although they both have spent ample time around RSL’s Argentine threesome, there was something different about seeing them in their more familiar confines, no matter how long they have lived in Utah.


“There was so much pride.  It was a lot of fun to go down and have them teach us a little bit more about where they’ve come from and the culture and the heritage of how they were raised,” Waibel said.


The off-season will pick up steam next week with the Waiver Draft and Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft and should see more developments in January with the opening of transfer windows around the world and the SuperDraft before training camp starts on January 22.


To hear the full interview with Waibel, listen below.