This weekend RSL kicks off their 10th season in Major League Soccer, before they do I thought taking a look at some of the challenges they face would be a good idea.
I know the easiest things to focus on will be the coaching change, an aging roster, limited changes on our roster to keep pace with other clubs making moves, but for me the 2nd full year of ownership by Dell Loy Hansen will actually be the area of greatest concern.
Oh I know some of you will jump on the fact that I am not going to name sources, but with people’s jobs on the line that is just the way it is, so if unnamed sources bother you then stop reading now. First is the issue that DLH is a businessman, and a very good one but his experience with professional sports is none. This is something that can be overcome with a knowledgeable staff and it would be hard to argue that Bill Manning and Garth Lagerwey aren’t among the very best in MLS, but if you hesitate to listen to their advice or if you have trust issues because they were hired by the previous owner, well then you will likely run into issues. I get it, you have bought into an organization but you still feel like an outsider at time because the relationships between Dave and many are so tight (having weathered real storms over the years), I can see how you might not be sure of who you can really trust or not. Clearly there also is the need to be wary given the financial state the team was in when you signed up and over the next couple years as a co-owner.
All of those things when you think about them make great sense, I hope by now that things have become more clear, from the top to the bottom of the organization people have bought into “the team is the star” and the ‘RSL Family” mentality. Fans, players, coaches, front office staff, all have invested a lot into the team, maybe not in dollars and cents, but in passion, in dedication, and all have done so to see the team grow and succeed. I do feel that if the trust issues, they go both ways, don’t get resolved this year (as early as possible) it could really lead to issues on and off the pitch. Players come here because we have something special going on, it is in the locker room, it is in the stands, it is on the pitch and off of it. If you doubt me, talk to guys like Lovell Palmer, or others who have left the team, or talk to the new guys who within a couple weeks learn that something different is happening here than at a lot of clubs. Yeah we have a chip on our shoulders here, small market team, smaller budget than most, years of fighting to get national attention, but never for a moment have we seen that chip be anything than wanting better for the whole of RSL.
Mr. Hansen it is your money and as such you get to do what you want with the club, but understand that every decision at every level impacts the whole, you have fans, players and staff that want nothing more than to see RSL be as great as we all know it can be. You can lead us there, but we must learn to trust each other or things will never be as good as they can be.
OK, on to those other things