Sebastian Jaime's 2014 season garnered some mixed reviews from across the Real Salt Lake base — despite producing some very strong performances.
The primary complaint seemed to rest on his lack of goalscoring, which really, wasn't all that surprising. Midseason additions are rarely hot, goalscoring figures, especially not when they only play six matches (starting only three of those).
What we did see was a player with strong technical skill, speed, and strength — he ticks all the boxes we need for a forward to complement players like Joao Plata or Alvaro Saborio, which speaks to the versatility of Jaime.
Where the Jaime skepticism came from is difficult for me to comprehend. For some, he was seen as an expensive non-solution, but I'm inclined to think that ignores the fact that he joined Real Salt Lake in August and didn't play until September. Further, he came in at a difficult time for the club, with Real Salt Lake earning 16 points from a possible 33.
Looking at Jaime as a let-down or a failed player because he didn't rescue a team he barely knew remains unrealistic. There was never much chance that he'd be that sort of transformative player, despite all of the good qualities he showed.
But instead of wondering what happened in 2014, let's instead look at 2015. No matter the formation Real Salt Lake decides to play in, Jaime will be an important figure and probably a starting player — at least until Joao Plata returns from injury. He's likely to continue after that, too, if Real Salt Lake uses a much-discussed three-forward lineup. There will rarely be a better opportunity for Jaime to integrate with the side.
At his previous club, Unión Española, Jaime went from playing forward and scoring at a considerable clip to playing as a right winger with less goalscoring glory — but the team played even better. Jaime took a hit to his visibility as a striker to benefit the team — that's a Real Salt Lake attitude if I've ever seen one.
As we look toward a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, we should look at Sebastian Jaime as an integral figure in these considerations. He can play on the right side, he can play on the left side, and he can play through the middle.
You'll understand if we're excited about Sebastian Jaime in 2015 — maybe more excited than when he arrived, and that wasn't an inconsiderable amount.