After a seven-match run of games as a substitute, Yura Movsisyan started for Real Salt Lake in a huge match against Vancouver Whitecaps.
His start start came because of an apparent training injury to Luis Silva, though it wasn’t enough to keep him out of the match entirely.
But if things continue like they have been, it could well prove to be Movsisyan’s last start for Real Salt Lake. With rumors now more or less pervasive that he’s very much on the outs at the club — or at least that he wants to leave, and that he nearly did go to Sparta Prague — it’s one of the bigger talking points of our season.
But before we get too far, let’s make one thing clear. This isn’t about Saturday’s performance. I thought he was passable in that, which was about the best thing you could say about a Real Salt Lake player on that day. He had a couple truly excellent moments, and while he could have done a bit better, that was definitely not the worst Movsisyan performance we’ve seen in 2017.
Far from it, even. He looked actually motivated, and he looked like he was going to do what he could for the team. It may not have all come off, but it wasn’t the lackluster effort we saw so many times earlier in the year, when RSL coach Mike Petke first took over at the club.
But all that being said, it’s become increasingly apparent that Movsisyan’s time at Real Salt Lake is limited. That could turn out to be wrong, of course, and part of me holds tight to the possibility that Movsisyan could make a heroic turnaround and become an active contributor to this team again. It’s even possible he could win back his spot this season.
If he’s going to win that spot back, though, it pretty much had to happen on Saturday. The untimely injury to Luis Silva opened a place for him, but Silva’s 23-minute appearance indicated he may or may not be back from injury. Of course, that’s always a difficult thing to figure out without actually, you know, being on the inside.
Let’s just take that as a given, though. With five matches remaining, what incentive does Petke have for starting Movsisyan over Luis Silva? Say what you will about their respective abilities, but Silva has been a sharper, more effective striker in our system right now. We could debate whether something went wrong or went right with the club to reach that point, but it’s difficult to find the originating point for any player’s competition over another player, save for the most oblique of circumstances.
With five matches in five weeks — rather than the three-matches-per-week clip we got going on — I think Silva has a strong chance of starting in each, particularly as we jockey for playoff position. Will Movsisyan start in any of those five? On the face of this one match, it might not be the worst idea, but it’s also not a game-changing one, either.
What’s utterly fascinating about this to me, though, is that Movsisyan might end his second year in his second Real Salt Lake stint with 16 starts — that’s fewer than half the games available, and it’s the mark of a player who’s no longer in starting contention. It’s rare that any team will bring in a designated player at Movsisyan’s salary, let alone that they’ll end up benching him as the year progresses. It happens, sure — even Andrea Pirlo has seen the bench more often than not — but it’s not the most common thing.
I guess the real distinction comes down to this set of questions:
- Should Yura Movsisyan start again in 2017?
- Will Petke start Movsisyan again in 2017?
- Will Movsisyan continue at the club in 2018?
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.