On Tuesday, Real Salt Lake announced the signing of Venezuelan winger Jefferson Savarino. The club has been tracking the 20-year-old goalscorer for some time, so we talked with RSL Head Scout Andy Williams about the process of scouring and ultimately signing Savarino.
Q: What first attracted you to Jefferson? How did that process start?
Andy Williams: I knew about him ever since the 2015 U-20 World Cup Qualifiers. He was playing for Venezuela and I watched that tournament and he was definitely one of the standout players. But he didn’t become a target until about September of last year. We kept tracking him and what he was doing locally and also with Copa Libertadores. Then this January is when (Scout) Dane Murphy came on board and that’s how it all came through.
Q: What stood out about him when you first saw?
Andy Williams: How comfortable he is with the ball. Yes, he’s small, but he plays kind of big. He plays sometimes as a second forward, holds up the ball well. He’s a very good shooter – hits the target a lot. That’s why he’s been scoring a lot the last few years. He uses both feet and he’s just a creative force on the field.
Q: Two years have passed now since you first saw him. How have you seen him grow?
Andy Williams: Seeing him play in Copa Libertadores showed that this kid can really play. He’s going against other championship teams from other countries. He’s doing it not only in the league but also in the international market. Seeing his games and seeing how he moves around, gets his shots off and assists also is pretty good. He works both sides of the ball and defends. I’m pretty happy he’s here.
Q: What kind of challenges might he have coming to MLS?
Andy Williams: Just adapting. He’s going to be living in a different country. There is the language barrier and it’s a different environment. Hopefully we put the right people around him to break that mold and get accustomed to us – the guys in the locker room and the coaching staff.
Q: Is he comparable to anyone you’ve seen in our league?
Andy Williams: The closest person I would say is Luciano Acosta from D.C. They’re about the same size, same skill sets. And it took a while for Luciano to get comfortable. He’s here, had a full preseason and looked a lot better. He’s probably the closest player I could compare him with right now.