RSL signs Argentine striker Sebastian Jaime
Two days after the August Major League Soccer transfer window was slammed shut, Real Salt Lake revealed a mid-season addition to its roster. And it’s a big one.
RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey confirmed Friday that the club has signed 27-year-old Argentinian forward Sebastian Jaime from Chilean Primera Division club Union Española. A deal had been in the works for roughly three weeks, but the proper paperwork was signed and processed Wednesday before the window closed a day after Jaime completed a physical in Santiago, Chile. The deal is official, but remains not complete Lagerwey explained, as Jaime’s addition remains pending approval of a P-1 visa. The club must also make a roster move in order to free a spot up for Jaime.
The transfer fee is seven figures, Lagerwey said, although he wouldn’t specify the precise amount RSL will play Union Española for Jaime’s rights. Per league policy, Lagerwey said he cannot reveal official terms of the deal that brings Jaime to RSL. The Argentine forward who scored 39 goals in 124 appearance for the Chilean club will fill a designated player slot for RSL, becoming the third on the club along with forward Alvaro Saborio and midfielder Javier Morales.
However Lagerwey said establishing the club’s newest signing as a DP is more of an accounting mechanism to lower the overall impact of the signing for the club. The club will have a large acquisition fee, but that also allows RSL to minimize the overall salary cap charge.
"We think this is the beginning of our ascension into becoming a mid-market team," Lagerwey told the Tribune. "There are a number of teams in our league that couldn’t have made this deal. This is a sign of how far we’ve come."
The seven-figure transfer fee for Jaime is slightly more than what the club paid for Saborio in the spring of 2010. Lagerwey said the unique midseason deal was struck largely due to the financial contributions of team owner Dell Loy Hansen and the support of the RSL fan base.
"The fans, at the end of the day, are the ones who signed this player," Lagerwey said.
That player’s arrival remains up in the air as the visa process must be approved by the U.S. government. Jaime has been on RSL’s radar since 2012, when the club first started scouting him. At the time, Lagerwey explained, the club couldn’t have afforded Jaime, but head scout and assistant coach Andy Williams kept his eye on Union Española. Both Lagerwey and RSL coach Jeff Cassar took trips to Santiago last month to watch and speak with Jaime regarding a potential deal. The pair purposely took separate trips to form independent impressions.
"We would not have signed him if not for the long-term [commitment]," Lagerwey said. "We think he’s not just a very good player, but a good person. He’s one of the best foreign interviews I’ve ever had … it’s critical again that what we’re calling a DP signing, one that lowers the cap hit, is fully in continuation of our ‘Team Is The Star’ mantra. This is not a player coming in believing he’s bigger than anyone else."
As Alvaro Saborio remains out until late September or early October with a foot fracture sustained in late May, RSL felt like it could use another option in the attack. Lagerwey describes Jaime as a flexible, fit forward who works hard and can play either alongside Saborio atop RSL’s formation or as a target striker himself.
"No one is a hero here," Lagerwey said. "This is not a signing to identify a savior for our season — in fact, it’s very difficult to come in at the end of the season. It’s about 50 degrees right now in Santiago, it’s winter down there, so something tells me we’re not going to introduce him in 100-degree humidity in Dallas in two weeks … it’s not a reasonable expectation he’s going to come and blow the doors off the day he sets foot here."
D.C. Unitedat RSLAt Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy
Kickoff » Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV » Ch. 4
Radio » 700 AM
Records » RSL 9-4-9;DC 11-6-4
Last meeting » D.C. United, 1-0 (U.S. Open Cup final, Oct. 1, 2013)
Position » Forward
Height » 5-foot-9
Weight » 154 pounds
Hometown » La Plata, Argentina
Previous club » Chilean Primera Division club Union Española