Craig Waibel

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Real Salt Lake part ways with GM Craig Waibel

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Real Salt Lake’s internal situation continues to worsen.

On Friday, the club announced it parted ways with general manager Craig Waibel. The decision comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed by former coach Mike Petke, which references a conversation in which Waibel was critical of RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen and admitted that he was resigning from the club at the end of the season.

“I would like to thank Dell Loy Hansen for the opportunities presented to me over the past six years,” Waibel said a statement released by the club. “During this time, I have experienced an incredible amount of personal and professional growth and I am proud of the work we have accomplished. While I am stepping away to take some time to evaluate the next step in my career, I want to wish Dell Loy, the locker room, and most importantly, the fans nothing but the best in their pursuit of the 2019 MLS Cup.”

This week, Petke and his attorneys filed a complaint to a Salt Lake County district court indicating that the MLS team breached the 43-year-old’s contract when he was fired in August days after shouting a homophobic slur in Spanish at a Panamanian official in Leagues Cup play. Within the lawsuit, a conversation Petke, Waibel and Rob Zarkos, executive vice president of soccer operations, was revealed.

Waibel is quoted telling Petke: “Thank you, I am exhausted, confused, emotionally spent, and disappointed that this is the only thing that makes sense. I have always known where the issues in this organization are born … and I have never once believe[d] that anything last year was created by you or I as individuals. This is [the toughest] work environment in Major League Soccer without a doubt.”

In the conversation, per the lawsuit, Petke and Waibel are described to have exchanged text messages regarding whether or not the former coach would resign and take the $75,000 in severance pay, or to deny the option and be fined. When Petke asked if him calling Hansen, who was filmed saying he was considering firing Petke before the official announcement, would make a difference, Waibel responded: “He [Hansen] won’t pick up. Refuses to be the bad guy.”

On the same statement released by the team on Friday, Hansen thanked Waibel for his contributions to the organization.

“I appreciate Craig coming to Real Salt Lake for the 2014 season as part of the coaching staff,” Hansen said in a statement. “Craig oversaw the organization’s integration of the Real Monarchs, Utah Royals FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, and the relocation and expansion of the Real Salt Lake Academy, which now trains and plays at the Zions Bank Training Center in Herriman, Utah.  Craig has been instrumental in the Club’s rapid growth and I wish him success in the future.”

Longtime club employee and assistant GM Elliot Fall was named interim GM, while the club “Immediately” searches for a replacement. Zarkos, despite being mentioned in the lawsuit, will remain in his position.
With 47 points and two games left in the regular season, Real Salt Lake are a win away from clinching playoffs.

MLS weekend preview: Quakes look to stay alive, Revs one win away from playoffs

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It’s the penultimate weekend of MLS regular season, and the playoff picture is nowhere near being completed, especially in the Western Conference. With two Sundays to go, four teams remain in the hunt for the final spot in the East. In the West, the fifth, sixth and seventh spots are yet to be decided.

Here’s a quick preview of each match being played this Sunday:

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders: Will the San Jose Earthquakes’ miraculous turnaround under Matias Almeyda go the next level with the clinching of a playoff spot? Only a point away from surpassing the red line, San Jose are statistically forced to win against a playoff-destined Seattle Sounders, who look to move as high as second in the Western Conference with two games to play, on Sunday if they want to make an already laudable reconfiguration into a generational one. With the return of Almeyda, Chris Wondolowski and Cristian Espinoza, the Quakes’ chances will be as good as they’ll get at this point of the season: a coin flip.

New England Revolution vs. NYCFC:  NYCFC’s visit to Gillette Stadium is the Eastern Conference’s biggest game of the weekend. Domenec Torrent’s side are in a comfortable position – six points clear of second place Philadelphia Union. The New England Revolution, however, are a win away from clinching a playoff berth. Then again, with Bruce Arena leading the Revs, one can assume that the home team will sneak into the postseason.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers: After a rocky start to their season, the Portland Timbers are in the driver’s seat to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Timbers’ followers, clinching playoffs is not the topic of interests. After six years, Diego Valeri is reportedly playing his final days in Rose City, as contract talks between both parties have hit a roadblocks. The question now becomes: will Valeri’s  uncertain future affect the Timbers’ on the field starting this Sunday against an eliminated Sporting KC?

Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC: After 13 years, countless goals and memories, the Chicago Fire say goodbye to Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire, who are relocating to Soldier Field next season in the hopes of drawing interest from proper Chicago’s large soccer fanbase, are not entirely out of the playoff race either. With a loss from the Revs and win at home, Veljko Paunovic and company would be only a point removed from New England. Chicago’s latest result – a scoreless draw against a poor Cincinnati – doesn’t give the impression that they’ll be able to edge a balanced Toronto, who are in the postseason yet again.

Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo: Real Salt Lake continue to produce, despite their internal turmoil. On Friday, the club parted ways with general manager Craig Waibel in the wake of a lawsuit raised by former coach Mike Petke, who made a reference that Waibel was critical of owner Dell Loy Hansen and said he was resigning from his position at the end of the season. Recent history indicates the team will respond positively to such self-inflicted roadblocks. But with only a foot across the red line, it will be interesting to see how they show up against a crumbling Houston Dynamo.

Colorado Rapids vs. FC Dallas: Robin Fraser’s new-look Colorado Rapids aren’t out yet, but their playoff chances hang on by a thread, if that. On the other side, FC Dallas – a point above San Jose – look to win out and, as a result, sneak into the playoffs. They’ll have to do so against a new Rapids scheme in which attackers and defenders alike are scoring. No easy task for a Dallas team that has allowed five goals in their last three games.

FC Cincinnati vs. Orlando City: While Carlos Vela actively looks to break the league record for the most scored goals in a season, FC Cincinnati hopes not to be the team to allow the most goals in a single season. They’re one away from doing so. With Orlando City, who need to win out in order to have any last-minute chances to qualify, Ron Jans’ side’s probabilities are slim.

Montreal Impact vs. Atlanta United: Montreal Impact are one of the four teams fighting for a spot in the Eastern Conference’s big party. With midweek Canadian Championship celebrations still fresh, the Impact may have plenty of inspiration to pick up the reaming six points (or not). Jose Martinez-less Atlanta United, on the other hand, look to bounce back from a crushing loss to NYCFC that cost them the second spot in the East.

Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union: Fresh off a win against the Quakes, Jim Curtin and company look to separate themselves from Atlanta United, and seal second place in the East. The Crew, who have proven to be a threat time and time again this season, will put up a fight.

Minnesota United vs. LAFC: With a Supporters’ Shield to point towards, LAFC have every reason to take things slow until the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. That said, given that Vela is one goal away from tying Martinez’s league record, though, the Black-and-Gold will likely continue moving forward at full speed until the Mexican writes his name in the record book. If that holds true, LAFC and second place Minnesota United will be a must-watch.

New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United:  A rivalry with two games left in the regular season is never a bad thing, especially when both teams are looking to climb the standings before the playoffs. To add to a thick plot, both teams are already in good form, and only a point apart in the Eastern Conference standings.

LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Just a couple of months ago, the LA Galaxy were in serious trouble of making the playoffs. But with the improvement of their backline and the non-stop dominating play from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Galaxy now find themselves playoff bound. It’s the type of transformation the Whitecaps were looking for but were never able to accomplish in Marc Dos Santos’ first year at the helm. As expected, the home side will look to exploit that and aim for the West’s second spot.

Real Salt Lake permanently acquires forward Yura Movsisyan

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Forward Yura Movsisyan has been permanently acquired by Real Salt Lake from FC Spartak Moscow, general manager Craig Waibel said Monday.

The club also signed Movsisyan to a contract for 2017.

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The 29-year old joined Real Salt Lake in January through a loan for the 2016 season and has scored a team-high nine goals to go along with three assists in 27 games.

This is Movsisyan’s second time playing for Real Salt Lake after being on the roster from 2007-09. He was a key member of the 2009 MLS Cup championship team.

Movsisyan was the fourth overall pick of the Kansas City Wizards in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft and was traded to Real Salt Lake for a third-round pick, allocation money and an international roster spot.