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2021 Player Profiles: Anderson Julio

Anderson Julio had a big impact in 2021, despite not seeing many minutes

MLS: Conference Finals-Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Anderson Julio burst onto the RSL scene in March 2021, joining the club on loan from San Luis in Liga MX. He was a player that the RSL technical staff had been monitoring for a couple of years, with what appears to be previous attempts to bring him to Salt Lake. Finally, RSL was able to do just that, but on a season-long loan with a predetermined option to purchase his rights outright at the end of the 2021 season.

There are two main areas of focus when talking about Anderson Julio, his production, and whether there is a chance he’ll be back.

Julio had an immediate impact for Real Salt Lake, tallying eight goals and one assist in 1,016 minutes played in 2021. That was good enough to tie for 3rd in goals scored for the club with fellow first-year teammate Rubio Rubin. How he did it is what captivated and confused so many RSL fans. Julio played 30 games, that’s a lot, but he only started 10 of them.

There are two numbers that stand out the most to me when talking about the impact Julio had in 2021. First, it is that he scored 8 goals on only 16 shots on target. An extremely impressive display of clinical finishing, including a goal that could have easily been up for goal of the year.

The second number that is a little mindblowing, and befuddling is zero. As in, he played a full 90 minutes in a match zero times. The closest he came was 82 minutes played on May 5 against SKC. That is incredible to me, incredible that he couldn’t last for or wasn’t given a full 90 minutes, and incredible that despite the minutes, he could still produce eight goals for Real Salt Lake. He only registered more than 80 minutes twice, and only registered more than 70 minutes four more times.

I think that the second data point, no matches with 90 minutes, is also a big reason that we have yet to see an announcement about RSL purchasing his rights and securing him to the club long-term. The price tag on acquiring Julio’s rights is rumored to be just north of $2 million dollars. That would be a hefty transfer fee, especially for an RSL side that rarely if ever pays transfer fees. I don’t think the new ownership group is scared by a $2m transfer fee, but for a super-sub that seems like a stretch.

If RSL were to pay it, that would indicate they believe he can be a regular starter and go a full 90 minutes as needed, and nothing about his 2021 season has indicated that is the case — especially because his minutes played per match declined as the season progressed. In his first five matches played, he averaged 72 minutes per match. In his last five matches, played that dropped to 32 minutes per match.

Julio’s future is uncertain, with rumors he’s been sold to Pachuca, and other rumors that RSL is still in discussion with San Luis but not budging on paying a lower transfer fee. One thing could be likely, that he will be nothing more than a midsummer's dream. A beautiful vision sprung upon us, bursting with potential and joy, only to vanish just as quickly.

So if this is, in fact, adieu, say not in grief he is no more, but live in thankfulness that he was.