SANDY — Jeff Cassar is back.
The team's controversial head coach has been retained by Real Salt Lake, the club announced Wednesday afternoon. The new contract is a three-year deal, though the club holds options on years two and three.
"I greatly appreciate the opportunity that Mr. Hansen and Real Salt Lake has given me," Cassar said. "While I am not satisfied with the lack of hardware during my tenure, I do believe that the infrastructure, resources and talent at our disposal for 2017 will be greatly rewarding for the entire ‘RSL Family,' especially our incredible fan base."
Team owner Dell Loy Hansen explained the decision. "Jeff deserves the 2017 year to continue our club’s competitive growth. His body of work this year — despite the team's late-season slide — and the overwhelming endorsement of him by numerous voices in our locker room confirm my belief that his continuity and our foundation set up Claret-and-Cobalt success in an extremely competitive Western Conference next season."
Cassar took over the head coaching position at RSL in 2014 following the departure of Jason Kreis, now with Orlando City SC. The team has a 38-35-29 win-loss-tie record in Cassar's three seasons. In 2016, RSL qualified for the playoffs, though faltered in the team's final eight games, culminating in a 3-1 defeat to the LA Galaxy to end the season.
In looking forward to next season, Cassar told ESPN700 that "I think we made big strides from last season to this season, and I believe we can make even more strides." Cassar acknowledged that the team introduced many new players last season, and continued "that’s going to happen again next year."
The departure list includes all-time leading assist man Javier Morales, who announced last week that he would not be returning to the club. Several other players will also be jettisoned, though the team signed midfielders Jordan Allen and Luke Mulholland to extensions.