Real Salt Lake permanently acquires Armenian forward Yura Movsisyan

Real Salt Lake has permanently acquired FW Yura Movsisyan from FC Spartak Moscow in the Russian Premier League, and signed him to a new contract for 2017, General Manager Craig Waibel has announced today, according to the club’s official website. 

The 29-year-old striker returned to RSL in January for the current 2016 season via loan, scoring a team-high nine goals and adding three assists in 27 appearances (24 starts) this campaign, which continues Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium against Sporting Kansas City.

“Real Salt Lake and the whole Utah community have been extremely welcoming for me and my family,” said Movsisyan, whose 24 career MLS goals in 60 RSL reg. season matches over two U.S.-based stints rank him seventh in club history – and fourth amongst active players. “This is home for us. This is where we want to be.”

The 2016 season has marked the Armenian International’s second stint with RSL, having previously played with Real Salt Lake from 2007-2009, coming to Utah via trade with the then-Kansas City Wizards. In his three MLS campaigns on the Wasatch Front prior to this year, Movsisyan played 53 regular-season matches with the Claret-and-Cobalt, scoring 15 goals while helping RSL to the 2009 MLS Cup title.

“Permanently acquiring a world-class player like Yura is a telltale sign that our club continues to grow and mature,” said Waibel, praising both RSL Owner Dell Loy Hansen and Movsisyan’s agent, Patrick McCabe, for enabling completion of the transfer. “This move is an enormous compliment to our organization, not just for a player that wants to be here, but for an owner that continues to stimulate the club in the way we think and the way we develop and acquire players.

Movsisyan – who won MLS Cup with the Claret-and-Cobalt in the final match of his first stint with the club in 2009, the State of Utah’s lone major professional sports championship since 1973 – owns the distinction of notching a stoppage-time equalizer at Colorado in the 2008 regular-season finale to vault RSL into the postseason for the first time, and notching the club’s first-ever playoff goal a week later against the club’s expansion brethren CD Chivas USA.

This season, Movsisyan scored in three consecutive games in June, leading RSL to seven of a possible nine points in that span, and notched a brace on August 26 against Colorado and GK Tim Howard to secure Rocky Mountain Cup bragging rights for RSL for the eighth time in 10 seasons. That multi-goal game was the fourth of his MLS career, and his first since a Pioneer Day 2009 comeback win over Dallas, leading RSL to a 4-2 win in a game it trailed 0-2 at halftime.

“Yura has obviously been an important part of this club, both now and in the past,” said RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar. “All can see what his quality has added to our roster and what it means for us getting results. Having him come back to the club with this kind of commitment, showing the love that he has for this club, this community and this state demonstrates what kind of person Yura is.”

After departing RSL and MLS following the 2009 Cup final, Movsisyan made his European debut with Danish Superliga side Randers FC. Then 22 years of age, Movsisyan joined Randers during a midseason break in January, 2010, a buoyant signing for a club that had gone winless in its first 16 games (0-12-4). After playing his first match, Randers then turned the season around and went 9-0-5 in the first 14 games after Movsisyan’s debut, the young debutant finishing the year with seven goals in 13 matches to rescue Randers from relegation. After joining RSL for the club’s Summer, 2010, visit to The White House honoring the Cup-winning side, Movsisyan finished his time in Denmark with 12 goals in 30 matches before transferring to FC Krasnodar of the Russian Premier League in January of 2011.

With Krasnodar, Movsisyan scored in his appearance and finished his first season with 14 goals, ranking fourth overall in the league. He followed that up with nine goals in just 14 matches in the first half of the 2012-2013 season, drawing a transfer to Spartak Moscow after totaling 23 goals in 50 Russian Premier League matches from the middle of the 2010-2011 season to the middle of the 2012-2013 season.

With Spartak Moscow, one of the top teams in Russia, Movsisyan scored three goals in his debut for his first hat trick as a professional. Between his two clubs, he scored 13 goals in the 2012-2013 season to lead the Russian Premier League. The following season he again finished fourth amongst Golden Boot leaders in the league, finding the back of the net 16 times in 27 matches, including another hat trick against Zenit St. Petersburg. His torrid goal-scoring rate slowed in 2014-15, but Movsisyan did score three goals in 11 matches in the most recent Fall/Winter 2015 slate before returning on loan to RSL.

Through 62 matches in Moscow, Movsisyan scored 25 goals, giving him a total of 48 goals in 112 matches in his Russian Premier League career.

“It has been a great experience working with Spartak through Movsisyan’s agent, Patrick McCabe, to get Yura back to Real Salt Lake, which is something we’ve wanted for some time,” said RSL GM Craig Waibel, the former MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Champion now completing his first full year as RSL general manager. “Patrick did a wonderful job representing both sides, while Spartak was nothing but respectful and professional throughout the whole thing. For us to gain a transfer on a player from one of the biggest clubs in the world is a phenomenal feat for us.”

In addition to his professional club experience, Movsisyan also boasts 35 appearances for the Armenian National Team, scoring 10 goals since making his international debut in 2010, including a goal in a 2-2 draw with Italy in 2014 World Cup Qualifying.

Originally drafted by the Kansas City Wizards at 18 years old with the fourth overall pick in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, Movsisyan came to Salt Lake in a trade for a 2009 third-round pick, allocation money and an international roster spot. In 15 matches over the 2006/07 seasons, he scored five goals for the Wizards prior to the trade that landed him in Claret-and-Cobalt.

Now at 29 years old, married with three children, the man who previously called Pasadena, Calif., his hometown is now focused on returning to health for the final two MLS regular-season contests, Sunday against Kansas City and then on Oct. 23 at Seattle. RSL currently places fourth in the highly-competitive Western Conference, battling with the Sounders, Sporting and Portland for the final three postseason berths, as well as the right to host a midweek “play-in” game on Oct. 26/27

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