Real Salt Lake: Findley makes big 1st impression

Though initially shocked by his trade from L.A., the speedster adjusts, scoring both goals in RSL's first win of the season
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Life as a professional athlete moves with unfathomable speed. One moment Robbie Findley was living life in Los Angeles, the next he was busting tail for a new team in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains.

"I didn't see it coming at all," said Real Salt Lake's newest player. "I didn't know what to think. I've been told that this is a business, but I didn't think it would happen that fast."

As opposed to Findley's jet-like speed, the change of scenery was the product of a long, slow boil.

RSL coach Jason Kreis never forgot his initial impressions of Findley. Early on this season, Kreis had just tuned into an L.A. Galaxy game and was amazed as well as impressed by the rookie forward's speed and team contributions.

Athleticism runs in Findley's family tree. Findley's cousins include the NBA's Mike Bibby and NFL's Shaun McDonald.

"He was a player that stuck out in

my mind," said Kreis, adding that Findley's name would eventually come up during discussions between the two teams. "He brings a lot of positives to the field.

"If he were my player, I would never want to trade him."

However, in a gut-wrenching move for Kreis, RSL sent veteran midfielder and friend Chris Klein to L.A. for the 22-year-old Findley and midfielder Nathan Sturgis

Talk about successful debuts. Findley, who had scored two goals in nine games - three starts - for the Galaxy, beat the D.C. United keeper twice on Saturday to help spark RSL to its first win of 2007. He did it on a bum right ankle, too, having rolled it a week earlier.

"It's feeling good [now]," Findley said. "I'll try not to let it get to me."

The first goal in the 2-1 victory came courtesy of a pass from another recent Real addition, defender Jean-Martial Kipre, who sent a ball over the top, allowing Findley to use his breakaway speed. It gave RSL a 1-0 lead in the first half.

Five minutes into the second half, Alecko Eskandarian, acquired earlier for Jeff Cunningham, teamed with Findley on a well-timed give-and-go, and Salt Lake led 2-0. Findley's debut created delirium inside Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"After the second goal, I pointed to the sky," Findley said. "I was able to appreciate it all. I've been working hard to get toward that. Hard work pays off."

All the aspects of Findley's game that Kreis appreciated - speed, skill and field awareness - came to fruition. His new partner likes the addition.

"Any time you play up top, you need a partnership, that's for sure," Eskandarian said. "I'm excited by having Robbie here. He's got all that speed. Now, when I get into trouble, I can look for a seam, look for him to make a run."

The past week has been a whirlwind for the third-leading goal scorer in Oregon State history. The 2007 MLS SuperDraft second-round pick is still looking for an apartment.

"I was a little bummed leaving L.A., but I can't look back too long," Findley said. "It was disappointing. I was just getting situated, and I had to leave and pack and meet new people.

"My family told me things like this happen for a reason. It might end up working out better here."

As far as receiving playing time, Findley couldn't ask for more. He was brought in to start alongside Eskandarian.

"They're both mobile, hard-working forwards," Kreis said. "They combined well for the second goal."

Kreis warned against setting expectations too high. Findley's not going to score two goals - or even one goal - every game. But RSL now possesses one more offensive option.

"When we played Salt Lake when I was with L.A., even though they hadn't won, they kept battling to the end," Findley said. "They showed a lot of heart.

"I played well [against D.C. United], but it was a team effort. If it wasn't for those guys, it wouldn't have happened."

RSL and its fans are hoping for many happy returns.

Robbie Findley

* Rookie Robbie

Findley has scored four goals in 10 MLS games.

* Findley, Oregon State's third-leading goal scorer, was a 2007 second round draft pick.

* Findley scored two goals in his Real Salt Lake debut Saturday against D.C. United.