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‘I love the club’: Real Salt Lake tabs Freddy Juarez new head coach, Elliot Fall as general manager

Fall, 34, becomes the youngest GM in MLS and has been with RSL for 13 seasons, while Juarez has been with the club since 2010

Real Salt Lake head coach Freddy Juarez smiles at Elliot Fall, RSL’s general manager, during a press conference to announce their positions at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.
Real Salt Lake head coach Freddy Juarez smiles at Elliot Fall, RSL’s general manager, during a press conference to announce their positions at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SANDY — The interim tags are gone.

Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen officially introduced Elliot Fall as general manager and Freddy Juarez as head coach during a press conference at Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday.

Both had occupied those titles on an interim basis at the end of last season, and Hansen said he was excited to promote both into those roles permanently after what he said was a long search.

Combined, Fall and Juarez have spent 23 years with Real Salt Lake in a variety of different positions. Fall believes it’s those different experiences, along with that of new assistant general manager Tony Beltran and technical director Dan Egner that gives RSL a very unique team administrative staff heading into the 2020 season.

“It’s a club that’s been close to my heart for a long time, the only career I’ve ever had. I’ve been here since 2007, grown up under a lot of special people in a special environment,” said Fall, who attended Judge Memorial High School and the University of Utah.

Ironically enough, his first unofficial day with the club came way back in 2007 when he interviewed for a media relations internship on the day Jason Kreis was hired as head coach. He’s been with the club ever since, working on the communications staff, the team administrative staff and then as the assistant general manager beginning in 2014 under Garth Lagerwey.

Fall never played professional or college soccer, but he’s been around the inner-workings of Real Salt Lake for 13 of the club’s 15 seasons.

The 34-year-old is the youngest general manager in MLS.

“When I sit with players and with agents, and with coaches, I don’t command the automatic respect of having been a former high-level professional. I have to earn that respect, and I don’t have a problem with that. I think the advantage is it really gives me a different perspective,” said Fall.

As an assistant the past five years he’s learned the importance of the business side of the GM role from asset management to long-term management to the salary cap to staffing.

“Having grown up in the organization and seen that day to day and seen it with a lot of high-level people, I think I have unique perspective that a lot of former players wouldn’t have,” said Fall.

He’s got an opportunity to make a big splash in his first season in charge.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Hansen slipped in the fact that RSL had roughly $3 million in salary cap space come off the books on Dec. 1 as the club is no longer paying some former players, including Yura Movsisyan and Alfredo Ortuno — who were released with guaranteed contracts.

“We have an opportunity to really work on those front line striker positions,” said Hansen, who said it’s an exciting and dynamic time within the organization.

Hansen said that the hiring of Fall and Juarez highlights RSL’s ladder. The club is known around MLS for developing players within the Academy, but Hansen said it’s just as important that the club develops that talent in administration and coaching.

While Fall has been with the team for 13 years, Juarez has been around since 2010 as he served as the inaugural RSL-Arizona Academy head coach. He was promoted to RSL Monarchs head coach in 2015 and then to an RSL assistant coach in 2017.

“I’ve always been at the service of the club — I love the club. This is the only club I’ve been at with coaching, I want to see it succeed. I’ve seen some great years of it. I want to continue that,” said Juarez.

He took over as Real Salt Lake’s interim coach when Mike Petke was fired in August and was instrumental in leading RSL into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed.

During the 13 games he was in charge — which includes the three games he coached while Petke was suspended before his firing — Juarez guided RSL to a 7-4-2 record.

“He’s steady, he’s inspiring, people love to play for him and that’s hard to find in a coach. Coaches are either hated or tolerated or resented, but they’re very seldom beloved,” said Hansen, who called Juarez the best strategist he’s worked with at RSL.

During RSL player exit interviews back in October, all the players who talked with the media expressed their desire to have Juarez stay on as the permanent head coach.

Juarez is a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and played 10 seasons in the USL for the El Paso Patriots and Minnesota Thunder. He retired in 2007.