Since the announcement last month that Salt Lake City was to join Major League Soccer next April, the expansion franchise has been relatively quiet.
But in the coming weeks, the club’s first steps will be taken as a name for the team and its first head coach should be announced.
Dave Checketts, the team’s owner/investor, spoke Thursday at a city business conference. He revealed the choices for a name have been narrowed down to four, while a head coach should be announced by the end of August according to general manager Dean Howes.
The name game seems to be the first stride that will be taken by Checketts and Howes. At the same time, a logo and team colours should be make known as well. Marketing and merchandise are two important parts of a franchise in any spot, but it is even more imperative for a team just starting.
Checketts said the franchise will be use one of four ideas, all of which may be altered to some degree while keeping the base idea. Saying he wanted to have a “traditional” name, one of the four is “Real”, as in Real Salt Lake. While Real Madrid may have left MLS at the altar earlier this summer, Checketts has kept the idea in play. The “Glory” is another option, while the “Alliance” is likely the weak sister of the four.
Lastly, the Salt Lake “Highlanders” are an option; Checketts made a joke that the team would wear kilts instead of shorts while playing. All the ideas may have the traditional “Sporting Club/SC” or “Football Club/FC” suffix added in the end.
More important to the team’s fans may be the search for a head coach. Howes confirmed to the Salt Lake Tribune that two well-known names have already been interviewed – U.S. Under-17 coach John Ellinger, and Thomas Rongen, who won one MLS title with D.C. United and currently is the Under-20 boss. While Ellinger has experience only in MLS as an assistant for one season with the Columbus Crew, Rongen is a veteran of three clubs. However, Ellinger’s ability to use and develop players, especially younger ones, could make him a more attractive candidate.
Two other rumored candidates are Glenn Myernick, currently the number two to Bruce Arena and former Colorado Rapids head coach; and former U.S. and Costa Rica national team boss Steve Sampson. Sampson was born in Salt Lake, but moved early to California. He’s an interesting candidate for the Chivas team in Los Angeles as well, especially due to his multi-lingual capabilities. It will be interesting to see whether Jorge Vergara would okay Sampson for the team after his failed stint as Costa Rica’s head coach.
Lastly, the team has kept to its promise of developing a plan for its own stadium. Currently set to play its first season (and more) at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus, Checketts and Salt Lake are courting interested parties around the area.
A place within the Salt Lake City limits is still the favourite in this race, while the surrounding suburbs of Sandy, West Jordan, and Murray have expressed their interest. It would be an “upset” if a downtown location was not chosen in the end, it seems. The club expects a location and funding plan for their stadium will be announced by the end of the calendar year.
Original Article written by Aris Ohanessian
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