Real Salt Lake Players Detail 2021 Exit Interviews With Front Office, Coaching Staff

Dec 8, 2021, 3:36 PM
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake...
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake is officially in the off-season and has already begun planning how it will exceed a terrific postseason run in 2021 ahead of the 2022 season.

The media was fortunate enough to speak with a number of key players as they prepare for a shorter than usual offseason and some time to recover from the grueling 2021 campaign.

This story is a recap of the final interviews of 2021 with players.

Firstly, every player strongly stated their desire to have Pablo Mastroeni as the full-time manager in 2022. The players all touched on his ability to galvanize the dressing room and noted how his leadership style connected with the group. The club is yet to publicly announce who the manager will be in 2022, despite having multiple months to cipher through candidates, conduct interviews, and come to a conclusive decision.

Secondly, all players spoke on how the playoff run that the club enjoyed in 2021 must be used as a catalyst ahead of the 2022 season. It was apparent that the players have more belief now in the club and the ability of the team to seriously contend for silverware than it has in some time. The club is recovering from years of scandal both on and off the pitch, but the recent Western Conference Final appearance suggested a change in trajectory.

Nick Besler

Besler had an up and down year that included inconsistent playing time. However, the 28-year-old still believes that his best soccer is still in front of him and intends on doing everything he can to play a bigger role in 2022. He is under contract and will return for the 2022 season.

Aaron Herrera

Herrera endured a break-out year for the club finishing the season with a personal-best 11 assists. Herrera confessed that he hopes that new ownership can “come in and really go all-in on the club” stating that he believes that the last couple of years the club has just been “getting by.”

Andrew Brody

Brody was asked how his exit interviews went with both the front office and the management to which he admitted that the conversations went without any concrete information. Specifically, Brody informed the club that he believes he can be a perennial starter at either right-back or left-back but noted that the response from the club was unnerving.

“To be honest they do not really know,” Brody said when asked what his future with the club will entail. “I didn’t really get a straight answer…so we will see if they have faith in me to do so,” he added.

Justen Glad

The most interesting note to come out of the Glad interview was when he admitted that the controversial no-call at the end of the Sporting Kansas City game on Decision Day should have been called a handball. However, he did admit that at the time he did not think he made contact with his hand, it wasn’t until after the game when he got another look at it that he realized he got away with one.

Glad is under contract and will return in 2022 with ambitions of remaining as a key figure at center back.

Damir Kreilach

Kreilach stated that the postseason runs the club endured in 2021 must be used to its advantage throughout the 2022 season. He believes the club has turned a corner and is on the right track. “If we can defend like a team we will always put ourselves in a position to win the game,” he said.

Albert Rusnák

Earlier in the year, Rusnák was playing most of his minutes on the left wing to which he was happy in doing so if it was best for the team. However, against Portland in the Western Conference Final, he returned to the wing and barely had an impact. In his exit interview, he confessed that he recently told the club that he does not want to play on the left moving forward, he needs to play in a more central position. He also stated that he hopes the club will play with one holding midfielder and two attacking midfielders in 2022.

Rusnák is out on contract and is hopeful that his team and Real Salt Lake can agree on a new contract, however, he does not want to wait around too long for it to happen. His contract officially expires at the end of December 2021.

Bobby Wood

“This has been the coolest team that I have ever played with,” Wood said when asked how 2021 Real Salt Lake compared to his former clubs throughout the years. Wood endured an up and down year in which injuries kept him from seeing consistent minutes. But he admits that joining the team midway through the year without having a solid fitness base was always a recipe for disaster. He is hopeful that this off-season he can build a good foundational fitness base that will allow him to contribute far more frequently in 2022.

Justin Meram

Meram is also out of contract and does not know what the future holds. But he “cares about this club and this city” and wants to return. He believes his form towards the end of the season warrants another contract, even if that means less money and a more frequent role off the bench as opposed to starting. Meram has been through the uncertainty of contract negotiations before and is well aware that he may not return to Utah, but he will do everything he can to try and assure a return for 2022.

Anderson Julio

Julio has been told that the club is in negotiations with Liga MX club Atlético San Luis to buy out his contract and sign him full-time. Julio was acquired via a loan deal with the option to buy. Julio would like to return to Real Salt Lake on a permanent basis but must wait to hear how the negotiations between both parties go. He would also like to secure a more frequent starting role but is happy coming off the bench if that is where the club sees him as best suited.

Everton Luiz

Luiz is out of contract, however, he wants to return. “My wife and children are very happy in Utah and we want to come back,” he stated. However, the club was unable to give him any indication if that will occur. According to Luiz, the club will make a decision on its future with the club once they secure a full-time manager.

When asked if he plans on limiting his yellow card accumulation in 2022, he said that he plays with an aggressive style and that he will not change the style in which he plays if he returns in 2022.

Pablo Ruiz

Ruiz is still learning the defensive traits of playing as a holding midfielder and admits that he still needs a lot of development. He said that he was not a very good defensive player when he got to the club but is excited to get better moving forward. Furthermore, Ruiz would like to see the club play in a 4-2-3-1 shape in 2022 and believes stability within the organization will only help propel the club forward.

Future Interviews

The media will have the chance to speak to interim manager Pablo Mastroeni on Friday. Stories surrounding his media availability will be published on KSL Sports dot com.

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Real Salt Lake Players Detail 2021 Exit Interviews With Front Office, Coaching Staff