His stat line will go down in Real Salt Lake lore, but for all the wrong reasons.
The franchise on Monday cut bait with what has been reported as the highest-paid player on its 2018 roster.
Disgruntled center forward Alfredo Ortuño is headed back to Spain after what can only be described as a failed stint at RSL and in Major League Soccer. The 27-year-old striker, brought in this offseason to strengthen and solve RSL’s center-forward depth, played all of 119 minutes in three appearances.
On Monday, the club announced it had mutually agreed to part ways with the forward. Ortuño earned one start, but never managed a shot or shot on goal in an RSL jersey. In three matches, all he registered were two offside whistles from a sideline official.
The striker returns to Spain to play at club Albacete Balompié in the country’s second division. The departure marks a swing-and-a-miss by RSL after it recently waived former striker Yura Movsisyan in March. Movsisyan spent time on loan in the Swedish first division before suffering an injury.
“I think you can stack up 100 reasons,” RSL general manager Craig Waibel told The Salt Lake Tribune when asked why Ortuño didn’t pan out. “You look around the world, and one of the things we lose track of at this club and in Salt Lake is, we kind of only see the world in our bubble, and we don’t see how frequent this kind of thing is.”
Waibel felt like the first few weeks at RSL were positive for Ortuño, but said the forward found it a challenge living away from home and his family for the first time as a professional. The transition, Waibel added, became increasingly difficult.
RSL coach Mike Petke didn’t see enough from Ortuño to warrant appearances, instead giving minutes to rookie academy product Corey Baird, who has been a positive for the club in 2018, scoring five goals in his first year.
“It just didn’t work,” Waibel said. “That’s all there is to it, and sometimes, that’s the answer.”
In his fourth season as RSL general manager, Waibel said he and his front office staff haven’t had many misses.
“This was a miss,” he said. “But it wasn’t a miss for lack of talent, it was a miss in the end in terms of the full transition of the player. That reasoning falls on the front office, falls on the player, falls on the staff."
Ortuño had been present at RSL training sessions at the club’s new soccer complex in Herriman up until last month, but he spent time jogging and sprinting alone on the fields away from the first team in an attempt to stay as fit as possible ahead of his latest move.
The forward who, according to the MLS Players Union, was to be paid $1.1 million in 2018, lasted all of six months at RSL. His time will not be remembered fondly by fans, either.
During a late substitution appearance in RSL’s loss to Sporting Kansas City in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup, fans showered the forward with boos as he trotted around the field.
Now with the MLS summer transfer window open for the next few weeks, Waibel and his staff have more work to do.