This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Throughout the holding patterns and iffy moments and there were plenty of those Real Salt Lake never wavered in its desire. When the possible return of Yura Movsisyan circled back last spring, the RSL front office listened, and listened intently.
If the striker who helped RSL win its one and only MLS Cup crown over six years ago was ever to be interested in returning to Major League Soccer, RSL knew it had the first shot.
After several months of lengthy, detailed negotiations, RSL ultimately finalized his return.
RSL announced Friday that the 28-year-old Armenian forward is returning to RSL as a Designated Player on a one-year loan in 2016 from Russian Premier League club Spartak Moscow. During Movsisyan's return season in Major League Soccer, RSL is expected to work toward the transfer for the striker who scored 48 goals in 112 appearances in the Russian Premier League.
The club is scheduled to introduce Movsisyan on Tuesday.
"It's always nice and you feel a little bit of relief when you finally get these done," RSL general manager Craig Waibel said in a club release. "The nerves are just kind of excited now to see this all come together."
Movsisyan spent the last six seasons in Europe and Asia playing professionally in Denmark and Russia, where he was a staple of Spartak Moscow the last four seasons. Before his MLS departure in Jan. 2010, RSL extended a contract offer despite the expiration of Movsisyan's previous contract. That allowed RSL to retain his MLS rights if the 6-foot forward wished to return to the league that turned him professional.
"For me, it's been a long time I've been wanting to come back," Movsisyan said in the club release. "Obviously Salt Lake was my first choice because it was such a great place for me and my family. I felt at home in Utah. Leaving with a championship I want to come back and do that again.
Now in his return, Movsisyan should provide an injection of talent and stability at a much-needed position. The RSL front office and supporters alike hope Movsisyan is the all-around forward capable of producing double-digit goal marks each season. The club has been on the prowl for a striker of Movsisyan's quality since the dip in form of the club's all-time leading scorer, Alvaro Saborio, who was dealt last summer to D.C. United.
"Throughout history with Yura, when he has something to prove in his mind, that's when he's at his best," RSL coach Jeff Cassar told the Tribune on Friday. "He's powerful, he's relentless and, physically, not a lot of defenders can stay with him with his power and speed and athleticism."
In 2015, RSL scored just 38 goals, the second-lowest goal-scoring output in the league. The six strikers on RSL's roster amassed a combined 19 goals.
Movsisyan will be counted upon to reverse those fortunes.
"He's a strong presence," Waibel said. "He's a powerful runner. He's strong on the ball. He strikes the ball very well from distance, but also attacks the ball well in the box and has good instincts. He's very tricky in his movements and getting away from players."
Patrick McCabe, Movsisyan's agent, told the Tribune on Friday that while the loan to RSL is a one-year deal, all parties are entering this next phase with the intention that the move back to RSL is for the long-term.
"Spartak was not happy to part with him, so in the end, they made some concessions here based on Yura's desire to be back [in the U.S.] with his family," McCabe said. "I think, in the end, nobody really is looking at this as a short-term thing."
Upon leaving RSL, he signed with Danish club Randers FC where he scored 12 goals in 30 appearances. Since 2011, Movsisyan had played in the Russian Premier League after moving from Randers to FC Krasnodar, where he scored 23 goals in 50 league appearances. Spartak Moscow soon came calling, reportedly spending $9.7 million on a transfer fee to acquire the Southern California product.
When the draw of returning to the U.S. and MLS surfaced early last year, McCabe said it became a regular conversation. Movsisyan and wife Marianna have two young children and are awaiting the birth of their third child and wished to be closer to their families in Pasadena, Calif.
McCabe said he'd been working with Spartak on the move since September.
The deal, as expected, took its fair share of twists and turns. It even went dark a few times, McCabe said, but all parties were finally able to come to an agreement.
"To come back still at an age where [Yura] has a lot left in the tank I think sends an important message of where the league is at," he said.
The league took early notice of the move, too.
As Cassar spoke with fellow coaches and front office folk at the MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore, Md., this week, the rumblings of Movsisyan's return came up.
"[Other teams] are a little bit worried now," he said. "And I like that."
About Yura Movsisyan
Position • Center forward
Age • 28
Hometown • Pasadena, Calif.
Birth place • Baku, Azerbaijan
School • Pasadena City College, drafted fourth overall by Kansas City in 2007 MLS SuperDraft
Re-acquired • RSL completed one-year loan for Movsisyan's return in 2016
Professional track record • Kansas City Wizard (2006-2007), Real Salt Lake (2007-2009), Randers FC (2010-2011), FC Krasnodar (2011-2012), Spartak Moscow (2012-2016), Real Salt Lake (on loan in 2016)
A proven goal-scorer • Scored 25 goals in 62 matches in four seasons at Spartak Moscow after scoring 23 goals in 50 goals at FC Krasnador. Had 20 goals in MLS between Kansas City and RSL in his four season in MLS before moving to Europe. In three seasons at RSL, Movsisyan had 15 goals in 53 regular-season appearances. During the 2012 UEFA Euro qualifying tournament, Movsisyan scored four goals and had five assists for the Armenian national team.