Real Salt Lake, head coach Freddy Juarez part ways midseason

Freddy Juarez RSL

Real Salt Lake and head coach Freddy Juarez have parted ways with immediate effect, it was announced Friday.

RSL assistant coach Pablo Mastroeni has been named interim head coach for the Utah-based MLS side ahead of their Sunday match at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). The club has immediately begun its search for a new head coach.

They enter Week 22 of the 2021 season holding sixth place in the Western Conference standings (playoff position), having taken 27 points from 20 matches.

“I’ve had the incredible opportunity to grow with Freddy in this organization over the last 11 years,” RSL general manager Elliot Fall said in a release. "It has been an honor and a pleasure to share this experience with him. We are a better club for the contributions Freddy has made, he leaves Real Salt Lake with a legacy that we will appreciate for years to come. He is an extremely talented coach who will bring passion and expertise to his next opportunity.”

Juarez initially joined RSL as an academy head coach in 2010, then was promoted to first-team assistant coach in 2017. He took over on an interim basis in August 2019 after the midseason departure of Mike Petke, leading the Claret & Cobalt to a Western Conference semifinal appearance that year. Juarez then got the official tag in December 2020, though they missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs during the pandemic-altered campaign.

Mastroeni joined RSL’s coaching staff ahead of the 2021 season after one season as an assistant coach with Houston Dynamo FC. A five-time MLS All-Star who played 16 seasons in the league, he was formerly head coach of Rocky Mountain Cup rival Colorado Rapids from 2014-17.

“Despite only joining us prior to this season, Pablo Mastroeni knows our roster more intimately than anyone,” Fall said. “He is the ideal person to take the reins right now and continue our push for a playoff berth. We have the utmost confidence in his ability to maximize the talent on our roster in the short term.”

Juarez’s departure marks the third coaching change of the 2021 MLS season after Gabriel Heinze (Atlanta United) and Chris Armas (Toronto FC) were both dismissed earlier this year. Ex-Seattle Sounders assistant Gonzalo Pineda has since taken over Atlanta, while Javier Perez is leading Toronto after initially doing so on an interim basis.