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Jeff Cassar named new RSL head coach

SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Jeff Cassar, an assistant coach the past seven years, was named the new head coach of Real Salt Lake, replacing Jason Kreis.
SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Real Salt Lake announced on Wednesday that it has named Jeff Cassar the third head coach in Claret-and-Cobalt history. Cassar, 39, has been with RSL since May 2007, when he was hired as the Utah side’s goalkeeper coach. Per league and club policy, terms of Cassar’s new contract will not be disclosed.

Cassar will be formally introduced as RSL head coach in a press conference at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday. 

“We’re very excited for Jeff to become the third head coach in Real Salt Lake history,” said Hansen. “Jeff’s been a crucial member of the RSL Family since 2007. His terrific leadership abilities, strong character and understanding of our locker room, tactics and overarching club culture will allow us to continue to compete for trophies in 2014 and beyond.”

"I think after seven years as an assistant, he deserves the opportunity," said RSL team president Bill Manning. "There's very little transition. He knows the system, he knows the players, and I think he's going to work very well with [general manager] Garth [Lagerwey], which is a big part of this as well. I think he's the right guy."

Under Cassar, Real Salt Lake has produced exceptional goalkeeping and defensive performances, best exemplified by the record-setting 2010 season that saw the Claret-and-Cobalt allow just 20 goals across 30 regular season games. Under Cassar’s direction, RSL GK Nick Rimando has been a consistent MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist, an MLS All-Star in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and a regular call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team. Since Cassar was elevated to first assistant coach in 2011, Real Salt Lake has been one of the most competitive teams in the league – becoming the only MLS team to reach the CONCACAF Champions League Final in 2011; qualifying for the post-season every year since 2008; and reaching the U.S. Open Cup Final and MLS Cup Final in 2013.

"We think we can win and we think we have very good players," said Manning. "We have talent and Jeff knows that talent."

Cassar has been involved in Major League Soccer since the league’s inception in 1996, spending 11 seasons between the posts for three squads from 1996-2006 before retiring to become FC Dallas’s goalkeeper coach in January 2007. During his career with Dallas (1996-97, 2003-06), Miami Fusion FC (1998-2001) and the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (2002), Cassar made 79 appearances and 76 starts, posting a 1.76 goals against average, a 28-36-10 record, and recorded 13 shutouts. Cassar also spent time with English sides Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town in 2002.

In addition to his duties with Real Salt Lake, Cassar has served as the U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper coach on two separate occasions under U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann since the start of 2012.

A native of Livonia, Mich., Cassar appeared numerous times for the U.S. U-18 and U-20 teams prior to turning pro. The Florida International University graduate was teammates with several members of Real Salt Lake during his MLS playing career, playing with RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman (Miami Fusion, 2000-01), Rimando (Miami Fusion, 2000-01), Head Scout Andy Williams (Miami Fusion, 2000; NY/NJ MetroStars, 2002) and Lagerwey (Dallas Burn, 1997; Miami Fusion, 1999-2000). Additionally, Cassar played with RSL TV Analyst Brian Dunseth on two different teams (Miami Fusion, 2001; Dallas, 2003).
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