SANDY, Utah — For five years, Jamison Olave was a mainstay of the Real Salt Lake defense. He terrorized opposing forwards, and helped RSL to its MLS Cup championship in 2009.
The Claret-and-Cobalt reluctantly traded the Colombian to New York after the 2012 season for allocation money, and Olave returns to the Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night with the Red Bulls — his first match in Utah wearing something other than claret and cobalt.
“Obviously, it's going to be emotional for Jamison to come back,” RSL Coach Jeff Cassar told reporters, adding that he still has an “awesome” relationship with Olave.
“He's a good guy,” said RSL defender Tony Beltran. “I'm glad he's having success.”
So does Real Salt Lake's management.
“Jamison is welcome here anytime,” general manager Garth Lagerwey told reporters. “Jamison is always going to have a special place here. We very much appreciate him. He was a tremendous player for us for a number of years. I think he's done tremendously well in New York and we're happy for his success.
“The way we look at it is if the go to other clubs and do well, that's a good reflection on us.”
Lagerwey added that he hopes Olave stops by the Salt Lake locker room “and says hi to the guys.”
Olave clearly still has friends in that locker room. RSL midfielder Javier Morales was quick to point out, “He was my roommate for four years. Jamison is a good friend. He did lot for the club, but … we want to beat him.”
And, he told reporters, “The last time I played against him, he got me from behind. So I hope this time it won't happen again.”
Beltran, who was on the roster with Olave for five seasons, called him a “tremendously talented athlete and soccer player. He was imposing, that's for sure. He played, a lot of times, next to me … and watching him chase guys down made my job a lot easier.
“When forwards lined up against him, I'm sure they knew it was going to be a rough day.”
But when RSL lines up against Olave on Wednesday night, “You kind of forget all that stuff.”
Beltran played with Olave. He grew up a fan of Arsenal and Thierry Henry, who comes in to Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday with the Red Bulls.
“Theirry is a god,” Beltran said. “There's a reason why he has a statue in front of (Arsenal's Emirates Stadium). I've taken a picture in front of that statue. He's still the king and he always will be.
“That's pretty cool to line up against him. But as soon as you walk out of the tunnel, it's just another game. It's my job to go out there and stop him from scoring.”