Villarreal’s All-Time Leading Scorer and Italian National Team Standout Bolsters RSL’s Attacking Options

SANDY, Utah (Thursday, February 27, 2020) - Real Salt Lake has signed former Italian international Giuseppe Rossi ahead of the 2020 season, bringing the American-born forward to Major League Soccer for the first time in his career.  A staple in the top flights in England, Italy and Spain since 2004, Rossi has also been a standout for Italy on the international stage and was the 2008 Olympic Golden Boot winner.

“It feels great to now be a part of Real Salt Lake,” Rossi said. “I can’t wait to step onto the pitch and help RSL achieve all the goals we’ve set this year. For me, MLS has been growing every year and has produced an exciting product. I’m lucky enough to have RSL be my first contact in the league during this process. The club’s respect and kindness towards me is something I appreciate immensely. I can’t wait to see and meet the fans and immerse myself in the RSL culture. Along with the rest of the team, I can’t wait to begin this season and enjoy the journey together.”

Rossi, 33, has played for Manchester United and Newcastle United in England, Parma, Fiorentina and Genoa in Italy and Villarreal, Levante and Celta Vigo in Spain, scoring 128 goals in 336 matches across all competitions for clubs in the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga.  After moving from his native New Jersey to Italy at 12 years old to play with Parma’s youth academy, he made his professional debut for Manchester United at 17 years old in the fifth round of the League Cup in 2004.  He went on to have his breakthrough season on loan with Parma in the 2006-07 season, notching nine goals and four assists in 19 Serie A matches.

“Giuseppe’s resume speaks for itself,” RSL General Manager Elliot Fall said. “He brings an impressive level of international experience to an already talented and cohesive roster. Watching him in preseason it’s clear he has a lot to offer to our club. He has handled himself immaculately off the field and has fit in seamlessly with the group and has already served as a mentor for the young guys on our team.”

His top season came with Villarreal in 2010-11, when he had 18 goals and seven assists in 35 matches in league play, 11 goals and three assists in 14 appearances in Europa League and three goals and one assist in five Copa Del Rey matches.  During that season, Villarreal finished fourth in La Liga with Rossi finishing as the fifth-leading scorer in the league, trailing only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo.  Villarreal also advanced to the semifinals of Europa League as Rossi finished second behind Radamel Falcao on the scoring charts for the tournament.

Internationally, Rossi had seven goals in 30 caps for Italy between his debut in 2008 and his last appearance in 2014.  During the 2008 Olympics, he led Italy to the Quarterfinal Round, scoring four goals in four matches to win the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer.

“It’s amazing to have a player of his skills in and around the guys.  It’s a guy that can change the game at any given moment and he’s seen it all and done it all so he gives the team confidence,” RSL Head Coach Freddy Juarez said.  “Beyond his skills, he takes the time to talk and spend time with the young guys.  It goes a long way when your peers can lead you and hold high standards.”

A technically-gifted and versatile attacker, Rossi can play in any attacking position – as a lone striker, a second striker, an attacking midfielder or on either wing.  His uncanny ability to score and set up his teammates has been his hallmark throughout his career and he has even served as captain for Italy during his time with Gli Azzurri.

Real Salt Lake finished the 2019 season third in the Western Conference at 16-13-5 (53 points) and advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals for the second consecutive season.  RSL will open the 2020 season on the road against Orlando City SC on February 29 before returning to Rio Tinto Stadium for the home opener against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, March 7, at 12 p.m. MT.

Player Information

Name: Giuseppe Rossi
Position: Forward
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 159 lbs
Born: 2/1/1987 (33 yo)
Hometown: Clifton, New Jersey
Birthplace: Clifton, New Jersey
Last Club: Genoa (Serie A)

TRANSACTION: Real Salt Lake signed free agent forward Giuseppe Rossi on February 26, 2020.