Q&A Part 2: Craig Waibel Discusses Off-Field Advancements at Real Salt Lake

Last week, Real Salt Lake General Manager Craig Waibel sat down with RSL.com to discuss the whirlwind offseason and the upcoming seasons for RSL, the Monarchs and Utah Royals FC.  In part two of the discussion, he talked about some of the off-the-field changes across the organization that will have an impact on the field in 2018 and beyond.

Dane Murphy moves into the role of Technical Director after one year as a scout.  What kind of things does he bring to the technical staff that prompted that promotion this year?

“I firmly believe that Andy Williams is one of the top scouts in our league – and I don’t say that cosmetically.  So bringing Dane in was a spoil of riches.  Dane is very talented, extremely educated, very articulate and has an inkling to get involved in the contract discussions.  Quite often you don’t have that balance with scouts and contracts.  Andy is a pure scout.  He can watch soccer until his eyes bleed, then rest for a couple of minutes and watch more.  Dane can do the same, but definitely has an interest in the other side as well.  We’re trying to find the correct balance – around the world, technical director is a title that people understand.  So we needed to make sure that when Dane travels and represents our organization in contract negotiations that he had a title that other people are going to listen to.  That was part of it.  It was tactical.  But also, elevation for Dane because he is very good at what he does.  He has a remarkably bright future in MLS and he’s helped us tremendously.  I kind of think everyone is in the right place.  Andy is one of, if not the, best at what he does.  So we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel and come up with something unique for Dane in terms of scouting, even though that’s still 90% of his job.”

Another thing I wanted to bring up was the giant building that has sprouted up in Herriman.  What does the Zions Bank Training Center mean for this organization?

“It’s hard to wrap my head around, to be honest.  The facility itself is world class.  And I say that humbly.  I haven’t traveled the world and looked at every soccer specific training facility.  But I’ve been to quite a few and this does not bow down to anywhere in terms of spacing, the facility itself, there was a psychology that went into the construction and the layout.  It’s really compliments to Dell Loy because it was his vision that built it.  Three years ago when we sat down he asked, ‘What would you do if you could do anything?’  I started throwing ideas out and not too long later he came back not too many months later with land and a plan.  Now we’re sitting out here.  It’s a massive step for the organization.  Watching the guys’ eyes light up when they walked into the building … it’s been pretty incredible to see the reaction, and that’s from a lot of guys that have played a lot of places in the world.”

What about you?  What was your reaction?

“I’ve been very fortunate to be involved from day one when Dell Loy sketched the first idea down on paper.  A group of us traveled to Toronto, to New York, to Holland and other places and looked at the way they structured locker rooms, the architectural layout, how much space was needed for equipment and all the way down to where they store the shoes.  I’ve been really, really lucky to be involved since day one.  When I came out here, I’ve been out here so many times when it wasn’t finished that I was finally like ‘There is my seat!’  I knew right where it went.  I knew that a year and a half ago.  And to see it there is pretty awesome.”

What does it do for the club moving forward, particularly in the near future?

“Every club has its selling points and what goes into a player choosing to play for your club.  We are competing on a world market.  So why would a 14-year-old or 15-year-old choose to come here to be a part of our Academy?  It’s because of these facilities.  It’s because we promote from within.  It’s because we have eight or nine of our own homegrown players on our roster and it’s because they start.  In terms of the pros, this is world class.  So for a guy who wants to feel special on a daily basis, as well as at the game when the fans are there cheering, this is a pretty influential building.”

In the recruiting process, when do you send video or photos, invite them out to tour the facilities?  At what point do you drop the hammer?

“I might do that from the beginning now.  Now that it’s finished and we can really show them what this place is, it can be pretty overwhelming.  We’ll be working on a few different videos and they’ll have a different tone on each one to make sure the right message is going out.  We’re already working on recruiting videos.”

Now that you have everything here and you went through all of the planning stages for Real Salt Lake’s 2018 season, and in November the wild card gets thrown at you and you’ve got to put together a women’s team in two months.  What has that been like in the day-to-day operations of putting it together, but also being able to take a step back and see what’s transpired in the last two months?

“It’s been an absolute joy to go through the process.  It’s been exhausting.  There is no getting around that.  But exhaustion, when you’re doing it for the right reasons, doesn’t seem to be quite as tiring.  The staff we’ve put together is phenomenal.  Then going through the roster and working with Laura and her coaching staff to select the next piece and the next piece and the next piece.  It’s just a really fun process to be a part of.  We do have a lot of people who want to come here, and I think we will assist in setting a standard for women’s soccer that isn’t going to be matched by many around the world in terms of the facilities that we’re providing, the environment we’re providing, the coaching staff we’re providing and the support staff that we’re providing.  It’s been a real pleasure to be a part of building it.”