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2016 Player Profiles, #16: Jamison Olave

RSL legend Jamison Olave’s impact at the club was far beyond that of his 2016 role.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

In his second stint with Real Salt Lake, center back Jámison Olave was called upon less than ever as, seemingly, his time in Sandy came to an end. In what some might call an inauspicious end to his years playing at Rio Tinto, a lot of what Jámison should be credited for in 2016 has gone unnoticed and unappreciated.

Originally joining RSL in 2008 on loan from Boyacá Chicó in Colombia, the unknown defender quickly established himself not only as part of the starting 11 but as one of the most adept defenders in the league. His speed and strength were his greatest assets giving him the ability to track the fastest attackers in the league, body off the target forwards, and win balls out of the air. Joining Salt Lake just when Jason Kreis and Garth Lagerway were assembling the core that would win MLS Cup in 2009 and make a serious run in the CONCACAF Champions League, he would feature heavily during 2009 - 2012.

Olave quickly earned favor and adoration amongst the RSL faithful and was dubbed ‘The Verb’ by many. He was an action, a act of god that would interrupt an attack and spring an RSL counter in the same motion. Players and attacks didn’t get stopped, they were “Olave’d”. He said “No,” and everyone knew it. He was like a legend, a story carried from fan to fan that seemed to be even more larger than life with each telling. He was scary — plain and simple.

During that stretch Olave played in 120 games for Salt Lake in all competitions. Since re-joining the team in 2015 he has added another 39 games to that tally. An incredible number for any player in MLS to have reached with one team. He also scored 12 goals in his time with the club, and one of them has become the stuff of legend.

On his return to RSL in 2015 the excitement about his return was dampened ever so slightly. With his age beginning to show he was no longer the Olave that we once knew. While still an adept defender, his speed began to fail him exposing some of his tactical and focus issues that it used to cover up. No longer able to recover or track as effectively there were times where he was caught out of position in 2015 and 2016 which lead to RSL being exposed or opportunities being created for opposing attackers. This combined with the emergence of Aaron Maund and Justen Glad as top level center backs led to a new role for Jámison.

While still playing in and starting more than half the games in 2016, it was a very different year for the seasoned defender. Taking on a mentoring role with the younger players, what he did for Aaron Maund and Justen Glad should not go unnoticed. With Aaron picking up an injury late in the season it was comforting to not only have Olave available to step into that starter role, but also to continue mentoring and working with Glad in more on the field, real game situations.

After a 1-0 victory against FC Dallas, RSL coach Jeff Cassar had this to say about Jámison:

“He’s stepping up. He’s really been stepping up now for quite some time, and it was even before he was actually getting on the field. He had been doing extremely well in training sessions and obviously with Aaron [Maund] going down and everything you have an experienced player stepping up and realizing that he’s got to take control of the situation and I think he’s done a great job. I think he’s partnering with Justin [Glad] very well and mentoring him, and that’s important.”

This was, or will be, one of Jámison Olave’s greatest contributions to RSL long-term. He established the standard to which any defender who plays for this club should strive to reach. Be so good you become a verb. Be so good that teams are afraid of you. Be so good that the whole stadium and every fan tells your stories. Be so good that you bring up the next generation — not leaving them in your shadow, but put them in your shoes and help them figure out how to fill them. That is greatness and that is what Jámison has been for this club.

After 2016, RSL declined to pick up his option, and before it was even announced he had this message for fans.

Jamison will be missed and should be remembered.