The third whistle, signaling the end of the match, barely had sounded when the sea of blue warmup jerseys breached the sideline and engulfed Marcelo Silva, Alfredo Ortuño and the rest of the Las Palmas players on the pitch.
They meandered around the field, dazed and elated, embracing their teammates and looking up at the roaring swaths of fans decked out in yellow. Las Palmas just had won promotion back to the top flight of Spanish soccer after a 13-year absence from La Liga.
That was the last time Silva and Ortuño took the field together — a 2-0 win over Real Zaragoza in the second leg of the Segunda División playoff final in June 2015. Well at least it was before they reunited at Real Salt Lake preseason camp last week.
“I have a great relationship with him,” Silva said through a translator last Wednesday, Ortuño’s first day of training. “I’m excited to strengthen that relationship even more.”
Silva and Ortuño were swept off to separate cities after that storied 2014-15 season, with Ortuño joining Real Zaragoza on a short-term loan and Silva transferring to Real Valladolid.
They fell out of touch for the most part over the next two seasons, Silva said. Then Ortuño garnered interest from an MLS club in Utah of all places, the team his former Las Palmas teammate had joined in July.
The two played together for just half a season, but they lived in the same apartment complex and got along well, Ortuño said.
“We don’t argue or fight with each other either,” he said through a translator. “… When you spend that much time getting close to someone and living with them, you really weigh their opinions heavily.”
So he asked Silva about RSL, and he gave a glowing review.
“I told him that I was very impressed with how Real did everything,” Silva said. “They were so professional. I was impressed with my teammates, with the coaching staff. And likewise I was impressed with MLS and how they did everything. So I’m very happy with it, and I just relayed that happiness to him and explained to him that it’s a league I enjoy being a part of.”
According to Ortuño, Sliva also told him that if he had the chance to join Real Salt Lake, he should take it. Ortuño followed his advice.
“When I heard he was coming here to RSL,” Silva said, “I knew it was a good pick for the team because he’s a talented player.”
Silva’s specific memories from their promotion-claiming run have faded two and a half years removed from their season together at Las Palmas, but he remembers Ortuño as a competitive goal-scorer.
“For someone that’s getting to know him, he’s very serious,” Silva said. “But once you crack open that shell and get to know him a little better, he’s someone that’s a joy to be around, very friendly. He treats other people with a lot of respect, and he treats his teammates with respect.”
One of Ortuño’s most notable offensive efforts that season, however, wasn’t a goal he himself scored.
Ortuño headed the ball to the far post, and Aythami Artiles volleyed it back across the net for Sergio Araujo to tap in on a set piece late in the Segunda playoff final. That goal in the 84th gave Las Palmas the 2-0 advantage it needed to tie the aggregate score at 3-3 and claim the victory on away goals.
Ortuño had entered the match in the 73rd minute, and Silva joined him on the field 15 minutes later to help Las Palmas hold its lead and secure promotion to La Liga.
That, Ortuño said, is his favorite memory with Silva. Well, so far.
Position • Forward
Date of birth • Jan. 21, 1991
Home • Yecla, Murcia, Spain
Reunited with Marcelo Silva • Alfredo Ortuño and Marcelo Silva helped Las Palmas rise to the top of the Spanish second division in the 2014-15 season and claim promotion to La Liga.