With D.C. United welcoming Real Salt Lake to RFK Stadium this weekend, we talked to Randal Serr of RSL Soapbox to get the lowdown on all things Salt Lake. To see my answers to Randal's questions, head on over to RSL Soapbox.
B&RU: With Luis Silva arriving, what does the future look like for Luis Gil?
RSLSB: Regardless of Luis Silva coming to Salt Lake City, Luis Gil's future is unclear. He has been offered a contract to stay with Real Salt Lake, but who knows what direction he is going to go. It's fascinating because in 2013 it looked like he was really coming into his own and finished the year with five goals and three assists. Since then, it has been a downward trend. He might need new scenery to kick start him again, but who knows exactly what is going on? He hasn't exactly been upping his value this season and he has admitted that it has been a season full of highs and lows for him.
With regard to Luis Silva, from interviews with RSL coaches it sounds like he is here to help with reinforcements over the rest of a very congested 2015 schedule. Beyond that, there are plenty of question marks. He may or may not be here for the long term either. Given Gil's limited minutes this season it doesn't bode well for him either way you look at it.
B&RU: Despite recent form, RSL are still on the outside of the playoffs; what do they need to do to lock up their place?
RSLSB: At this point, they simply need to continue their current run of form. Over the past three games, they have looked like a very dangerous, cohesive team. Much of that has to do with Javier Morales excelling, Joao Plata returning from injury, and Sebastian Jaime figuring out how to score in this league. I'm not sure if they have dug themselves into a little bit too deep of a hole at this point to make the MLS Playoffs, but they can definitely make some noise in Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League. Regardless of whether they make the Playoffs or not, they are definitely going to put some serious pressure on the teams in the Western Conference immediately above them. I have not counted them out of the Playoffs just yet, but it will be by the hair of their chin if they end up getting in.
B&RU: A year and a half in, how would you evaluate the Jeff Cassar era?
RSLSB: That is tough because I would consider the 2014 season a success overall until the 5-0 MLS Playoffs exit suffered against the Galaxy. He got his team to the playoffs as a first year coach and also got the team back to CONCACAF Champions League. Getting back to Champions League is a big deal here in Salt Lake City. This year has been a lot more frustrating. Cassar has attempted to put more of a stamp on the club with the formation change and we are just starting to see it bear fruit. RSL fans, like most sports fans generally, are impatient and have an emotional response from week to week that is probably a bit unfair to the new coach. For me, he has done well but has not been fantastic thus far, but I will be the first one to tell you that he needs more time and that the jury is out. By the end of this year, we will have a lot better idea of how much success he has had as well as the direction of the club. The one thing that would definitely put him on a pedestal is if he gets us a trophy. Fans would praise him and suffer memory loss of the beginning of the 2015 season.