Real Salt Lake: Olave returns to Rio Tinto for first time since being dealt
Sandy • His legacy with Real Salt Lake can be quantified in so many different ways, but perhaps none more so than the fact that Jamison Olave's set of particular skills earned him a nickname that reverberated throughout Major League Soccer.
The astounding plays made by the 6-foot-3 Colombian center back over the years became known as a verb. As in, getting Olaved. The nickname even had its own Twitter account @OlaveTHEVERB with nearly 1,000 followers while the former RSL defender patrolled the back for five seasons in Utah. A former MLS All-Star, MLS Defender of the Year, MLS Best XI selectee and even MLS Cup champion, the laundry list of Olave's accomplishments during his time with RSL helped shape a team that has become a perennial contender.
A former face of the franchise returns to Rio Tinto Stadium Wednesday night for the first time since being traded to the New York Red Bulls in December 2012, a move made as the club was handcuffed due to salary cap constraints after that season came to an end. The club traded midfielder Will Johnson to Portland and forward Fabian Espindola to New York with Olave although Espindola has since moved on to D.C. United.
Now, Olave's first visit back to Rio Tinto will come in a nationally televised match on ESPN2. And some of his old teammates can't wait to see him off the field.
"I feel like he's one of those guys that's obviously an unbelievably fierce competitor on the field, but a bit of a softy off of it," midfielder Ned Grabavoy said, "a guy that's constantly laughing in the locker room, a great personality. We miss him, without question."
Outside back Tony Beltran played along the right side of RSL's back line with Olave for several seasons. What stands out the most about playing alongside a 6-foot-3, 210-pound specimen with breakaway speed?
"Watching him chase guys down made my job a lot easier," Beltran said. "He was really a player that I'm sure instilled fear into opponents. When forwards lined up against him, they knew it was going to be a rough day."
Center back Nat Borchers knows all about Olave's strengths. The two formed the core center of the defense as the club began piecing together players in different positions in 2007 and 2008, when Jason Kreis and Garth Lagerwey took hold of the future of the franchise. Borchers said it's still a bit odd seeing the 33-year-old Olave in a Red Bulls jersey, but since the two faced off a year ago in a thrilling 4-3 New York win, Wednesday's matchup won't necessarily require any double takes.
"My favorite story of the legend of Olave is how he tracked down Wayne Rooney in the [2011 MLS] All-Star Game," Borchers said. "Rooney had a good 10-yard start on him and Olave tracked him down. That shows the kind of speed he has. He's a great defender and he made us a very, very good team defensively."
But the past is the past. Olave is a Red Bull now. He helped New York win the Supporters' Shield in 2013 along with stars Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
"Jamison is always going to have a special place here, and he's a player that we very much appreciate," Lagerwey said. "He was a tremendous player for us for a number of years."
New York Red Bulls at RSL
At • Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy
Kickoff • Wednesday, 7 p.m.
TV • ESPN2
Radio • 700 AM
Records • RSL 8-4-8; New York 5-6-9
Last meeting • New York 4, RSL 3 (July 27, 2013)
About RSL • The club closes out its three-game home stand on national TV, its first regular-season ESPN appearance since 2011. â¦ Forward Olmes Garcia came off the bench to provide a spark with two goals in last Thursday's 3-1 defeat of Montreal. â¦ RSL has never lost to New York at home in the regular season, going 4-0-4 against the Red Bulls in Utah since the club's inception. â¦ The Red Bulls beat RSL 1-0 in the 2008 conference final to earn a berth in the MLS Cup. â¦ Goalkeeper Nick Rimando remains in pursuit of the all-time regular-season shutout record currently held by retired keeper Kevin Hartman, 112 clean sheets. â¦ Rimando has currently played 358 fewer regular-season matches than Hartman.
About New York • One of the more potent offenses in MLS, the Red Bulls sport the leading scorer in the league, Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has 17 goals in 20 matches. â¦ Star Thierry Henry, 37, leads the league in assists with 10. â¦ While the offense is dynamic, the club has conceded 31 goals in 20 outings, nearly 1.5 goals per game. â¦ The club is coming off a 1-0 win over English Premier League staple Arsenal in a friendly Saturday at Red Bull Arena. â¦ RSL captain Kyle Beckerman will likely draw the assignment of tracking Red Bull midfielder and Aussie international Tim Cahill as two World Cup veterans in the center of the pitch.
Jamison Olave file
Age • 33
Position • Center back
Hometown • Medellin, Colombia
Pro career • New York Red Bulls (2012-current), Real Salt Lake (2008-2012)
Accolades • MLS Defender of the Year (2010), MLS All-Star (2010, 2011), MLS Best XI (2010, 2011)
Transaction • Traded by Real Salt Lake to New York Red Bulls with forward Fabian Espindola in exchange for allocation money on Dec. 3, 2012