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What Yura Movsisyan’s goal celebration means

When Yura Movsisyan scored the game-winning goal, he turned toward the bench.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Yura Movsisyan’s game-winning goal was very, very good. Not in the traditional sense, of course — it wasn’t the most finely finessed goal you’ll see, and it certainly wasn’t the sort of thing that we’ll remember for ages because of his innate skill on the ball.

No, it was very, very good because we won a game, we won after pushing hard, and we won at home with a clean sheet. Of course, it was also well-placed and involved some quick thinking when basically every other player had turned toward the referee (which has to be some sort of MLS record for mass stupidity, but that’s another thing altogether.)

Anyway, we’re not here to really talk about the goal, are we? We’re here to talk about what happened immediately afterward, when Mr. Movsisyan put his finger to his lips, turned to the bench, and proceeded to shush in that general direction for a while. Here, watch.

Isn’t that something else? Anyway, you could read a bunch of drama there if you wanted to, and maybe there’s plenty to be had. But RSL coach Mike Petke didn’t seem to be upset by this sort of thing in his press conference. Here’s what he told reporters (and a video of it, so you can get the tone of his delivery.)

The conversations that I’ve had with Yura about not starting tonight, I told him there’s nothing more that I would want ... for you to come off the bench and score, then come into the office the next day, and I made it clear in the office, not on the field, and tell me to go you-know-what myself, I told you so. I would want nothing more than that. I hope he comes in tomorrow and slams the door and says that to me. That’s the God’s-honest truth.

So — the real question, I guess: Does that count as telling Petke off on the field? Is Yura Movsisyan voicing his frustration and nothing more? He certainly didn’t literally tell him to — uh, you know, what Pekte said — but maybe that finger to the lips is enough to convey the same meaning.

Or maybe it wasn’t the same thing, and Movsisyan once literally told Petke that very thing, which would be very interesting, indeed, and would have really given us a clear and concise reason why Movsisyan was benched. I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t expect to ever find out. (Of course I’d like to — wouldn’t anyone rather know than not know?)

Personally, I’m choosing to interpret this favorably. I know that mind land me some apologist tag, and there’s never anything you can do to control things like that. I’m going to choose to interpret Movsisyan’s immediately leaving the pitch as him feeling some sort of — I don’t know — feeling about whether he should or shouldn’t have put his finger to the lips? Maybe he was just tired of being asked about it by the media, and he didn’t feel like a TV interview or something. Or maybe it was completely unrelated.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t know anything at all. But Movsisyan did give quotes to the media, which have been provided by RSL Communications. None of them deal with his celebration, but he does say this thing:

It’s very important for the team. Important for the morale of the team and the players. A lot of things have been said about the team and our players but we still believed in each other and everybody in this locker room believes in each other. We know that there are always tough times but it’s just a matter of how you come out of it. We’re trying to come out of difficult times and we want it more than anyone else. We’re working harder than ever to do that.

It’s hard to know what’s going on behind the scenes here, aside from what Petke gives us. Frankly, that’s more than most coaches give, and it’s still not that much, really. We’re still left to wonder how serious Movsisyan was about this (his face almost always seems very serious, so that’s not a perfect indicator,) and we don’t really know if the two exchanged words after the match that might have cleared some things up.

Regardless, Movsisyan’s broken his duck, in a manner of speaking. Maybe that’s what he needed to get his head back in the game. Strikers are notoriously moody — and the better the striker, the moodier they can sometimes get. I mean, really, just think about Thierry Henry and Mike Petke. If those two can smooth things out, then certainly, so can Movsisyan and Petke. (I hope.)

I know there’s a great deal of Movsisyan skepticism floating about, and I really do understand it. (I will say this: I don’t understand being upset he scored the goal, because it was an important goal, and he was in the right position to score it, so... I don’t know. Calm down.) But Yura Movsisyan has been a quality player in the past, and he’s not yet 30 — if he can get into good form and start being a true differentiator for us, then we’ll be better off as a team. And isn’t that the real goal, anyway?