Real Salt Lake's standout defender Jamison Olave prefers playing small, technical forwards, a small surprise for those of us who admire his strong, physical style that also highlights his great speed.
Don't forget how quickly he chased down Wayne Rooney during last season's MLS All-Star game against Manchester United.
It's just that Olave would prefer not to knock heads with the league's physical forwards, and said so following RSL's 1-0 victory against Montreal on Saturday after battling Impact forward Justin Braun.
"He is a very good forward," Olave said of Braun, who played his high school soccer in Utah. "He wanted to give us his best show, but that is how it is every game. Every game we have a fight. I really don’t like those physical battles, I like playing against forwards like [Seattle’s Fredy] Montero and [Fabian Espindola], more technical forwards."
For his part, while Olave haven't been timed to see how quickly he can cover, say, 40 yards. He'd like to know, but hasn't had the opportunity. Ultimately, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound defender is as fast as he needs to be.
More important, the Colombian, now in his fifth season with RSL, has improved the technical side of his game.
"I think interesting he wants to play against smaller guys," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "I always wanted to play against small, slow centerbacks too."
After the laugh, Kreis quickly added that he's been pleased with Olave's improvement in all phases.
"The thing I've noticed about Olave, in particular this year and starting last year, now he's getting to be a fairly technically decent player. He makes good passes out of the back, gets himself out of tight spaces at times. It's good to see a player like that improve."
Olave's strength still comes into play when in a foot race to the ball, especially with forwards of smaller stature. Often, the RSL offense begins once Olave wins the ball.
"A lot of people don't give him the credit he deserves with the ball at his feet," RSL defender Nat Borchers said of Olave. "It's interesting to hear he likes to play against the shorter, faster guys, cause I prefer to play against the bigger guys. They don't move."
• By Martin Renzhofer
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