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RSL fans don’t deserve a star striker

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The love-hate relationship of RSL fans and their goal scorers

Vancouver Whitecaps v Real Salt Lake Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

RSL fan, I have to come clean with you, you don’t deserve a star forward. Since 2005, RSL has seen a carousel of talented strikers don the Claret and Cobalt and give their all for the crest that we love. The problem is that we have never appreciated them.

It didn’t matter if it was Jeff Cunningham notching 16 goals in 2006, Robbie Findley netting 12 in 2009, or Álvaro Saborío grabbing 17 of his own to go with Fabian Espindola’s nine in 2012. You have always had a love/hate relationship with our strikers and you don’t deserve a new one until you learn to appreciate them.

Real Salt Lake v Seattle Sounders Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

I have tried to wrap my head around why we are the way that we are as a fan base. Maybe it is the workman like, no nonsense culture passed down from the pioneer founders of our state. Or perhaps it is the altitude and salt water that makes us so demanding of our goal scorers. Whatever it is, we have never been happy, and we have failed to see how good we have had it in the past. The last couple of years karma has finally come back around and smacked us collectively in the face. We got the Yura Movsisyan that we deserved, served with a side of Alfredo Ortuño a year later.

Let me take you back a few years to when Alvaro Saborío joined the club. The year was 2009: RSL had just won MLS Cup on the back of Robbie Findley and a young, skinny Yura Movsisyan had just combined for 20 goals. With that MLS Cup came a berth into Champions League.

Enter Saborío, the all-time leader in goals for the club, and the lightning rod for fan’s disdain and displeasure. How often did I sit in various sections throughout Rio Tinto and have to endure fans yelling at Sabo to run harder, play a different pass, or never ever dare be in an offside position? Too many times. What did Sabo do for us in return? Well, from 2010 to 2014 he scored 64 times for Real Salt Lake and brought us to the brink of a second MLS Cup and Champions League final.

What would you give now to have a striker who could average 13 goals a season for us up top each and every year for 5 seasons? You had one, and you treated him like garbage for whatever capricious fault you found in him.

Real Salt Lake v San Jose Earthquakes Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

If everything is urgent, nothing is urgent. If everything is important, then nothing is important. In a similar vein, if every forward we sign is the worst and the FO is to blame, then we won’t be able to appreciate those seasons where we get it right.

RSL fans have a legitimate reason to be frustrated the last two seasons with our signings at forward. Yura Movsisyan was an expensive mistake, and Alfredo Ortuño didn’t do anything to help us forget that.

Here are a few things to remember the next time you watch RSL and want to uncontrollably yell at our strikers:

  1. Most forwards don’t score every single game, even the very elite.
  2. Most forwards don’t score every time they shoot the ball.
  3. Drifting offside can be used as a tactic against defenses; that’s okay.
  4. Our forwards don’t need to be as nice as a church boy and as charismatic as a movie star, they need to help us win through goals and assists.
  5. Every team on the planet wants to get better at forward every single transfer window. So it isn’t as easy as your video games make it seem to go out and just get one.
  6. Similar to #5, once we have found that person, they are here, and they are scoring regularly, sit back and enjoy them while they represent the club that we love.

You have a reason to be upset and to demand change. You are the consumer and it’s your money that ultimately make the team viable. So I am not asking that you completely forget the struggles at forward the last couple of years. What I am asking is that when that next striker comes along that is scoring double digit goals each season (hopefully soon), appreciate them. We haven’t had one since 2014 and even then we didn’t appreciate them.

Real Salt Lake v Seattle Sounders Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images