RSL winger Jefferson Savarino took a different role on the pitch for RSL as it played host to expansion side Minnesota United on Saturday as midfielder Albert Rusnák was out for international duty with Slovakia’s U-21 National Team. Savarino was integral in the attack as a central attacking playmaker as RSL downed the Loons 1-0 in front of 19,546 at Rio Tinto Stadium to earn their third straight home win.
Although not playing in his typical wide role, Savarino felt comfortable operating in the center of the park for the first time in a Claret-and-Cobalt shirt.
“To be honest it’s a position that I have played before,” Savarino said postgame. “In my national team and in my previous team I always played that position. I felt very comfortable.”
Playing the number ten role comes with versatility, something Head Coach Mike Petke sung praises of his fiery striker after the match.
“It is a good option to have even when Rusnák comes back. It changes a little bit of how we play both centrally,” Petke said. “He’s so active, he is able to hold the ball, he shifts defenses just on his own by his movement and with his one on one abilities. He is excellent and we saw a little bit of it when Venezuela played against the men’s national team, when he came in centrally … We are talking about a lot of things but Savarino was excellent tonight.”
Savarino showed why he was so sought after through the full 90 minutes and just after halftime he woke everyone on the field up when he rattled the woodwork with a fierce shot that had Minnesota goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth rooted to the spot. From then on, the second half was his to be had.
His second golden opportunity came just seven minutes from fulltime when he fired a low, driven shot across the face of goal that just narrowly missed the outside of the far post on its way out. The shot brought the RSL faithful to their feet in the hopes of a goal.
Prior to his arrival in Sandy, Savarino tallied an astounding 22 goals and 12 assists in 48 games for Zulia in the Venezuelan Premier League, catching the eye of RSL’s staff.
Being one of the 12 players on the RSL roster under the age of 23, Savarino has been widely regarded as the highest Venezuelan talent as he continues to turn heads at such a young age. Turning so many heads in fact, that he recently made his international debut against the U.S. National Team in a June 3 friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium.
For fans, Savarino is quickly becoming a favorite as people rise to their feet, hoping to see something magical from the young striker. The RSL faithful will hope to see Savarino in his number seven shirt for seasons to come.