This is a very emotional day for me and my family to be back here, to be in Salt Lake again. I’m extremely excited, and I can’t wait to get on the field, can’t wait to play in front of our fans again and hopefully win more championships. —Yura Movsisyan
SALT LAKE CITY — Two years ago Yura Movsisyan informed his agent he wanted to return to MLS, and specifically Real Salt Lake. It was laughable at the time, but thus began the arduous, on-again, off-again process to get Movsisyan back to the club he won a title with in 2009.
This past weekend Movisyan’s desires became a reality when he flew to Moscow to sign documents completing his one-year loan to RSL, and less than 48 hours later he was formally introduced as the team’s newest player at a press conference Tuesday.
“I’m extremely happy to be home. For me, Salt Lake is home, cause when I left I won a championship at Salt Lake. It was the best thing that had ever happened to me and RSL at that time,” said Movsisyan, who will wear the No. 14 jersey he wore in his previous two-and-a-half-year stint with RSL from 2007-2009.
“This is a very emotional day for me and my family to be back here, to be in Salt Lake again. I’m extremely excited, and I can’t wait to get on the field, can’t wait to play in front of our fans again and hopefully win more championships.”
Movsisyan heaped a ton of praise on agent Patrick McCabe and RSL general manager Craig Waibel for working out a loan deal with Spartak Moscow despite a year and a half remaining on his contract.
RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen said that was no small accomplishment either.
“He literally had to take on what is akin to a Russian mafia to get this thing done. Nobody was backing down easy, this was a very difficult deal to get done,” said Hansen.
McCabe said the formal process of Movsisyan’s return began in September. It appeared the club no longer saw Movsisyan in its future.
Movsisyan’s best year with Moscow came in the 2013-2014 season when he scored 16 goals in 27 matches. The next season he scored just two league goals and this season before the Russian winter break he scored three goals.
In summing up the past two years, Movsisyan said, “the more success I had the worse the treatment got.”
McCabe said timing played a big role in his return to MLS.
“It has to be the right time. Part of that has to do with it was the end of the Russian fall season and people were tired and needed a break, and it was the holidays,” said McCabe. “And Salt Lake was pushing on their end cause they needed to know what happens in January (for training camp).”
On Tuesday Movsisyan stepped foot on Utah soil for the first time since flying out shortly after winning the MLS Cup in 2009.
He’s still the confident, brash striker he was back then, but now he’s got the résumé to back it up — and the chip on his shoulder to prove he’s one of the best strikers in MLS.
“Six years ago I was a totally different player. Now, with the experience I’ve had playing in different leagues, playing in different circumstances and having to deal with different countries has made me a stronger player,” said Movsisyan, whose wife is expecting their third child in April.
“Nothing can put me down, nobody’s ever going to tell me I’m not good enough because I know who I am. I know the type of player I am, I know I can score goals. I don’t promise to be defending in the back, but I will start defending from the front for the team. But I will score my goals, and that’s the one thing I’ve realized. My confidence has gotten me to where I am today.”
During his previous stint with Real Salt Lake, Movsisyan was a high-volume scorer. He believes he’s much more clinical in front of goal.
“One thing I do a lot better now is all I need is one chance to score a goal, which I didn’t do before. Before I needed 5, 6, 7 chances to score one goal. I think that’s the composure that I have now. Give me one chance and I will score,” he said.
He should have no problem fitting in right away either. Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Jamison Olave, Javier Morales and Tony Beltran were all his teammates previously while head coach Jeff Cassar was one of his assistant coaches.
He can’t wait to experience the family aspect of RSL’s locker room again.
“Playing on a football team, usually you don’t have this family environment. I’ve played on teams where it was just business and people were just looking to hurt each other,” said Movsisyan.
That’s far from the environment he’s returning to at Real Salt Lake, and he’s ready to flourish.
“I’m not here to relax. I didn’t come back to MLS to relax and enjoy my career. I’m here to win championships,” he said. “Now I’m back to prove I’m going to be one of the best strikers in this league.”
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: [email protected]