Real Salt Lake had a pretty poor season last year. They finished second to last in the West, only scored 38 goals – second worst in the league – and surrendered 48. Not exactly convincing and not exactly pointing towards great things to come. Especially when considering the fact that Joao Plata, the magician responsible for a lot of Salt Lake’s success, was on the team last year as well. He just was not as magical.
The fact that Joao Plata has matched his goal tally from last year in less than a third of the time is a lot of the reason why Real Salt Lake find themselves sitting pretty behind first place Sporting KC, who were themselves defeated by Real at Children’s Mercy Park. But let me again restate that Real Salt Lake had him last year, he just wasn’t quite the same, prolific counter-attacker that he is now.
So by that standard, Plata can be seen as a sort of bonus. He is the only guy on Real Salt Lake to have scored more than one goal or record more than one assist. He is the only guy creating multiple chances per game (3.4, in fact). He has been, in short, everything.
That is well and good, but relying on one man is a risky endeavor. Last year, Real Salt Lake’s leading man, Javier Morales, also lead in just about everything. It didn’t get them very far. They may be able to rely on Plata to keep them relevant, but to reach higher, they need someone else to step up.
They have that someone else in their midst already. That someone else is the Armenian, Yura Movsisyan.
Movsisyan is back for his second stint with Real Salt Lake, only this time it is on loan. Last time he was at the team, he scored just 15 goals in 53 appearances. Not the worst return, not the best. However, at 28 years of age, he is right in the prime of his prowess. Russia started to look promising, but has since fallen off, and now he finds himself in the nation he once wished to represent, on the team that he first spent extended time with.
Movsisyan will step up. His physical prowess alone is enough to be excited about. Movsisyan may not have the most consistency in his numbers, as he has never had double digit goals in consecutive seasons, but he has had incredibly effective years. The secret to the Armenian is to keep him on the pitch. He has the highest goals per appearance clip when he plays the most games.
Consider 2011-12 at FC Krasnodar – 22 goals in 44 appearances. Or 2013-14 at Spartak Moscow, 18 goals in 30 appearances. The best year that Movsisyan ever had at Real Salt Lake in his early days was eight goals in 25 appearances. He never scored more than eight goals, but he did score eight twice.
Real Salt Lake look committed to Movsisyan and making him their out-and-out front man. That dedication could pay off in a big way as the Utah side continue their climb up the standings.