Over the course of the last three seasons, Real Salt Lake has vastly expanded the club’s technical staff. When Craig Waibel accepted the position of Technical Director prior to the 2015 season, he joined a department that included President Bill Manning and Assistant General Manager Elliot Fall.
Now, that same department has grown to a staff of seven as the club has expanded to include a USL club in Real Monarchs SLC and the scouting networks have multiplied as the addition of new money to the player salary budgets has opened new doors around the world.
“The group we have has a nice balance. Everyone is allowed an opinion. Everyone brings something different to the table. We’re trying to avoid homogeny. It’s a remarkable balance of everyone being so different that it works,” Waibel said. “In saying that, while the department has grown, it changes the process dramatically. The networks we have are all different. When we send out emails, we’re now covering so many more people, so many more agents and so many more countries. The feedback is astronomically bigger when it comes to candidates to fill roles.”
To put some perspective on the department’s expansion, we asked Waibel to explain each member’s position and role within the department. His descriptions, interestingly, dealt more with how the personalities of each individual added to the group more than each person’s job description.
“Titles are confusing,” he explained. “They don’t define their personality and where they fit in a group.”
Rob Zarkos, Vice President of Soccer Operations – “Rob Zarkos is an amazing leader in our group. He drives our group daily. He at times is the guy cattle-prodding us to keep us all pushing. He’s a very creative thinker. He’s always looking at different angles and challenging the way we go about our process.”
Andy Williams, Head Scout; Dane Murphy, Scout – “Andy is a relentless scout. This guy can watch more video in one day than I can stomach. At some point I have to stand up and stretch and get a little bit of fresh air. If you tell Andy to hammerhead two or three players, the next day, you’re going to know their waste size. This guy’s research is unbelievable. The way he goes about watching players is a very unique perspective and it’s very dynamic. Dane watches the game a different way, but between those two, they are very picky. Dane is from the East Coast and he can eliminate you because he doesn’t like your grin. They’re both so wonderful at what they do.”
Elliot Fall, Assistant General Manager – “Elliot is remarkably talented at understanding the MLS salary cap, which is like trying to solve 40 riddles in one minute. There are four budgets within the budget and they overlap and they count different in July than they do in January. He has a very interesting role in our group. He’s the devil’s advocate. That’s an exhausting role to play, but we need it and it’s extremely valuable. As much as he gets beat up sometimes for being the devil’s advocate, he knows that’s essential for our group to be successful.”
Dan Egner, Real Monarchs Assistant General Manager – “Dan Egner is … I describe him lovingly like a gnat. He never goes away. He works all the time. He is unbelievably efficient in the way he can connect the dots on deals, on agents, on players. He’s built a network of his own over the last couple years that is quite remarkable.”
Vahe Tenielian, Analyst – “Vahe is the newest one. Lifelong Real Salt Lake die hard fan. If we line Vahe and Trey up and do trivia, this might be the only guy who can challenge Trey. He brings analytics from previously working at Goldman-Sachs. His brain is wired completely different from the rest of us and brings an analytical point of view.”