Goal.commentary: Movsisyan Looking To Build On 2008

Real Salt Lake striker Yura Movsisyan ended 2008 with a bang, and is out to prove that it was no fluke in 2009.

By Randy Davis

There is a lot on the line for Real Salt Lake forward Yura Movsisyan during the 2009 Major League Soccer season. The 21 year-old Armenian player enters his fourth season in the league and hopes to build on the breakout performance that he had at the end of 2008.

Movsisyan scored six of his seven goals in the final eight matches of the season last year after becoming a starter late in the season because of an injury to teammate Fabian Espindola. He also seemed to have a flair for the dramatic, scoring the playoff-clinching game winner against Colorado in the 90th minute during the final match of the regular season, and then repeating the performance the following week, scoring another 90th minute game winner against Chivas which propelled RSL further into the playoffs.

This season Movsisyan enters the year not only as a starter, but as the player the team will be looking to the most for goal production. As Coach Kreis recently told Goal.com, “We’re gonna lean on him.”

That’s quite a reversal from 2008, where Movsisyan appeared to be the fourth option at times behind Espindola, Kenny Deuchar and Robbie Findley. However, Movsisyan knows that he needs to show everyone that last year wasn’t an aberration.

“I’m gonna build on it,” Movsisyan said. “It wasn’t just a hot streak.”

Of course “building on it” is important not only for his starter status but also for his career trajectory.  If Movsisyan can continue what he started last season, he can develop a reputation around the league for being a proven goal scorer. This league has seen precious few “homegrown” proven goal scorers. Players like Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson developed reputations as goal scorers at a young age and have parlayed that into moves to Europe in an effort to take their careers to the next level.

In addition, this year is believed to be the final year of Movsisyan’s current contract with the league. While a “contract year” in MLS doesn’t mean that there are millions at stake like in other professional sports leagues, performing well this season could still benefit the striker financially. 

This season also may be crucial for Movsisyan who clearly has US National Team aspirations. He is in the final stages of the green card process after his family came to the US several years ago seeking political asylum. Once this is completed, Movsisyan would love to get the call from Bob Bradley and the US National Team,

“I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to play on the US National team, because that’s one thing that I want to accomplish in my career,” said the striker. “That’s one of the things I am really, really working hard for.”

All of these factors have Movsisyan extremely motivated coming into this season. His tenacity and speed have been an important part of his success to this point. In the early going last season, he appeared to try to do too much on his own. The RSL man says he’s looking to improve on that and other aspects of his game.

“I need to work on every aspect of my game. I’m not a complete player.  Every day you try to work on something new.”

His team is clearly hoping that Movsisyan stays motivated and can score goals this season. The team barely made the playoffs last season thanks to Movsisyan’s heroics, but things could have been much easier for them. They played an aggressive style of soccer last season, but still struggled to score goals. 

According to midfielder Kyle Beckerman, “that was the thing that held us back from being the top team in the league last year, possibly.”

However, Beckerman feels confident in his teammate to help improve on their goal scoring ability this season,

“Yura getting some success at the end of the year, now he’s gotta believe that he can do it in this league. If we can get him started early, then the sky’s the limit for him.”

The “sky” could include Movsisyan developing a solid reputation as a goal scorer, earning a new contract with the league, and maybe even earning a look from the national team.  

Randy Davis is a regular contributor to Goal.com