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Sebastian Velasquez returns, signs with Real Monarchs

The creative player is back in Salt Lake City after two seasons away.

Portland Timbers v Real Salt Lake - Western Conference Championship - Leg 1

Sebastian Velasquez is coming back to the Salt Lake Valley, but not for Real Salt Lake: He’s signing with USL side Real Monarchs.

Real Monarchs general manager Elliott Fall, assistant to RSL GM Craig Waibel, told supporters at a public townhall today about the signing

Velasquez, 25, signed with Real Salt Lake out of Spartanburg Methodist College in 2012, playing at the club for three years and becoming an important part of the 2013 run to MLS Cup.

In fact, Velasquez scored the goal that helped lift RSL over LA Galaxy in the 2013 Western Conference semi-final, bringing RSL level at an aggregate 1-1 scoreline in the second leg of that match. RSL went on to win 2-1 after extra time in that match.

After former RSL coach Jason Kreis’s New York City FC side traded for him in December 2014, he played for one year at the new side.

In 2016, he joined Rayo OKC, a team that struggled with in-fighting between club owners. At the end of the year, Velasquez and all other players were released from their contracts with the club, fueling speculation that the side would fold.

His time in MLS wasn’t all picturesque, as he struggled with alcohol and was charged with driving under the influence in 2014. He later entered rehabilitation and spoke openly about his experiences.

Velasquez’s return to Salt Lake City is a particularly interesting one. He joined New York City FC, knowing the coaching staff — Jason Kreis was an influential piece of his development, without a doubt. His move to Rayo OKC was one that seemed like a fair point of development, but NASL continues to be a circus.

Moving to Real Monarchs can, in some ways, might feel like a step back in terms of Velasquez’s career. You could argue for days about whether USL, at this point, is a step down from NASL. But even if it’s just a lateral move, what he’s done is set himself up for an opportunity with the first team again.

Impressing with Monarchs could mean he’s given a chance to get back to the first team. Maybe it’s not his only path back into MLS, but it’s a path — and there’s an impact there.