Real Salt Lake brings back forward Robbie Findley
MLS • Forward says he’s sharper after two years in England.
Published: January 16, 2013 02:17PM
Updated: May 5, 2013 11:32PM
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RSL striker Robbie Findley. Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune

Robbie Findley sat in the corner of a crowded doctor’s office waiting room Monday afternoon, wearing the gray sweatsuit he’d worn on the plane ride to Salt Lake City.

He left the line for his permanent address blank.

Findley hopes it’s the last bit of uncertainty in his life for a while.

After two unsettled years in England, the 27-year-old forward has rejoined Real Salt Lake, the team he helped push to the MLS Cup in 2009, in a move both team and player hope might return them to a former glory.

“I know what they’re capable of doing,” Findley said of his RSL teammates, many of whom he played with in his first stint with the club. “I know the front office. I know the coaching staff. It’s more comfortable scenery for me. I think everything happens for a reason, and it worked out the way it should be.”

Findley scored 29 goals for RSL, the third most in team history, before leaving the club in 2010 for England and Nottingham Forest.

Since then, both Findley and RSL have lacked what the other now hopes to provide. Salt Lake finished its final five games of last season without a single goal, in turn missing chances to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League and the MLS playoffs.

“We feel like his speed will add a dimension to our attack that’s been missing since his departure, and we can’t wait to see him back on the field at Rio Tinto Stadium,” RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey said.

Findley had five managers in two years, and struggled to find the pitch as he bounced between Nottingham Forest and League Two Gillingham.

When RSL came calling a few weeks back, Findley was nevertheless conflicted. “It’s always been my goal and my dream to be able to play in England,” he said. “The first time I stepped on the field [there] is something I will always remember.”

But reality fell short of Findley’s expectations. He made just 10 starts for Nottingham Forest in two years. In total, he made 27 appearances and notched just six goals.

“It was a tough situation I was in [at Nottingham Forest],” he said. “I love the experience. I learned a lot. But this time in my career I need to be playing games. It’s important to get a good rhythm, be consistent, try to give myself a chance at the National Team again. That’s all part of it.”

After Findley left for England, RSL left Findley unprotected in the 2010 expansion draft and his rights were acquired by Portland. On Monday, Nottingham Forest confirmed that the club and Findley had mutually consented to terminating his deal. RSL and the Timbers then agreed to a swap Wednesday, sending his MLS rights back to Salt Lake in exchange for allocation money

Findley said his game is sharper now then when he left Salt Lake City, and he believes his skills — and speed — will mesh well with RSL’s leading goal scorer, Alvaro Saborio.

“He’s a great player, very good in the air, big target,” Findley said. “He can hold the ball and has a little pace as well. You’ve got that big-man, little-man kind of combo. Things can work out as long as we communicate and are on the same page. We can make things happen.”

On a frigid January day in Salt Lake, Findley said he was looking forward to March and his first chance to get back in front of the crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“I’ll probably get goose bumps,” he said.

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk

A closer look

Robbie Findley’s pro career

Age • 27. Position • Forward

2012-13 GS SB G A SH

Gillingham* 3 4 0 1 4

Nott. Forest ** 0 0 0 0 0

2011-12

Nott. Forest 13 13 6 0 22

2010-11

Real Salt Lake 18 14 6 3 38

2009-10

Real Salt Lake 22 9 15 2 41

2008-09

Real Salt Lake 15 17 7 6 46

2007-08

Real Salt Lake 11 5 6 0 27

L.A. Galaxy 3 8 2 0 13

GS • Games started. SB • Used as substitute. SH • Shots

*England, League Two

**Nottingham Forest, England, League Championship

Notes • Findley did not play a first-team game for Nottingham Forest this season. The team sent him on a monthlong loan to Gillingham in late September.