This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Carson, Calif. • Saturday night signified his return home. For the first time in nearly seven years, Real Salt Lake and Armenian national team forward Yura Movsisyan played a professional match in Southern California, once again in front of a slew of family and friends at the StubHub Center.
The already-heightened emotions were given an extra boost as the L.A. Galaxy hosted Armenian Heritage Night in Carson, a day before the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Movsisyan, who spent the last six years playing overseas in Europe and Asia, said April 24 is near to the heart of every Armenian.
"A lot of people might not know about it, but that is a very special day for Armenians," he said. "That is a very difficult day, and a day that no Armenian is ever going to forget that. We've gone through a lot of pain on that day, so that's why it's so special."
That date will always serve as a reminder of the reported 1.5 million Armenians killed from 1915 to 1923 at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government. Movsisyan was born to Armenian parents in Azerbaijan, but moved to Southern California and grew up in Pasadena. He starred at Pasadena City College before being drafted by the Kansas City Wizards in 2006.
Several Southern California pockets have a substantial Armenian population, which gave Movsisyan's return with RSL more hype. The 28-year-old forward said the numbers he anticipated from his family and friends in attendance Saturday to be "in the hundreds."
"Every time I go back," he said, "it's just a beautiful feeling."
Movsisyan said being able to play in L.A. the day before the anniversary of the Armenian genocide is an experience that couldn't appropriately be summarized in words.
"In our culture, in our history, we've seen a lot of dark times, but that was the worst one," he said. "That's a day we'll never forget. To be in L.A. ... it's just very special day."
A hip flexor strain has shelved the most dynamic player in Major League Soccer at the moment. And Jordan Allen has been tasked with replacing Joao Plata in the RSL starting lineup. Plata had four goals and four assists through RSL's first six games, notching either a goal or an assist in each game so far in 2016.
The start was the third of the year for the 20-year-old Allen, who has earned starting nods in central midfield and as a wide forward in RSL's 4-3-3 look.
"This year already people have shown that they could step up into those positions, and this doesn't change anything," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said.
Center back Jamison Olave earned the start next to Aaron Maund in place of Justen Glad, while Chris Wingert returned to the starting lineup after Demar Phillips started in last week's 1-0 win against Vancouver. Javier Morales (illness) and Sunday Stephen (ankle sprain) were on the bench as part of RSL's 18-man roster.