SANDY, Utah (Thursday, November 2, 2017) – Real Salt Lake Owner Dell Loy Hansen announced that the club has exercised the purchase option on Venezuelan international FW Jefferson Savarino, bringing the winger to RSL on a permanent contract after spending six months on loan from Zulia FC in his home country. Savarino, 20, will continue to occupy a Young Designated Player spot on the RSL roster after amassing six goals and five assists in 22 Major League Soccer appearances in 2017.
“It’s a huge step in the process we’ve been going through and a massive commitment from our owner, one which exemplifies where we are in the sport of soccer in the United States but also individually as a club,” RSL General Manager Craig Waibel said. “We are in the process of successfully redesigning and redefining who we are, and Jefferson is a huge part of it.”
Savarino came to RSL on loan from Zulia FC in his native Venezuela, arriving in Utah in early May before making his MLS debut on May 13, coming off the bench against the New England Revolution. In his 19 starts, RSL went 10-5-4, outscoring opponents 36-24. In a five-game stretch from Aug. 23 – Sept. 23, he notched three goals and two assists in five matches as RSL went 4-1-0 to capture 12 of a possible 15 points to climb back into Western Conference playoff contention late in the season.
“I feel content being here. I’m happy to be here in Utah and I always thank God for being here,” Savarino said. “I’m a person who is never content with what I have accomplished. Now it is time to prepare and I will prepare the best that I can during our time off to keep growing as person and as a professional.”
In addition to his club success, Savarino also made his senior national team debut with Venezuela on June 3 in a 1-1 draw in a friendly with the United States at Rio Tinto Stadium. He was later called in for World Cup qualifying matches, but did not make an appearance on either occasion.
“Jefferson was a big part of the reason for the turnaround. What he brings to the field, the dynamic play, his ability to unlock defenses and get forward, the mentality and his ability to combine with Albert and Luis … he has been huge for us,” RSL Head Coach Mike Petke said. “In the long run, I think Jefferson is going to go down as one of the best that we’ve had.”
Before arriving at RSL, Savarino scored 22 goals and added 12 assists in 48 matches in the Venezuelan Primera Division, and also added one goal in four matches in this year’s Copa Libertadores, featuring the top teams from around South America. He was promoted from Zulia’s U-20 team to the first team back in January of 2015, at age 18.
TRANSACTION: Real Salt Lake (MLS) signs FW Jefferson Savarino as a Young Designated Player.