He's back! Chicho Arango makes instant impact in Real Salt Lake debut


Cristian "Chicho" Arango is back in MLS and back on the scoresheet.

The Colombian international striker made his Real Salt Lake debut Saturday night after signing as a Designated Player ahead of the Secondary Transfer Window, scoring the opening goal in a 4-0 drubbing of Orlando City SC.

"The truth is that I visualized it over the last few weeks, and thank God I was able to have a debut like this," Arango said after the match via a translator. "I dreamed of a goal and winning, and thank God it was able to come true."

Arango certainly isn't a stranger to scoring in MLS. He tallied 35 goals in 58 matches across all competitions for LAFC in a wildly successful stint that included lifting MLS Cup and the Supporters' Shield in 2022. After leaving the Black & Gold in early February, he spent four months with Pachuca in Liga MX before returning to MLS via a reported club-record transfer for RSL.

"You just know something special's gonna happen when he's out there. He does it every day in training," said RSL head coach Pablo Mastroeni. "I think he brings a ton of confidence into the group, and I think he really bolsters the guys to raise their level. I think his goal speaks for itself. He had quite a few plays that very few people can pull off. Just so happy that he got on the scoreboard in his first game."

With his signing officially announced on June 10, RSL have had the added benefit of getting Arango into training with the full team early. It's made his integration even more seamless.

"Chicho coming into the group early was really important," pointed out Mastroeni. "He got time to acclimate to the way we want to play, to his teammates. He's been a fantastic mentor to some of the young guys, a fantastic teammate to his peers. Just a top-class character. For us, when we're looking at players, that is one of the most important aspects. "

Adding a lethal goal scorer like Arango is obviously a huge boost to an RSL side that have quietly been one of the stories of the season. Not a perceived favorite heading into the season, they're up to fourth place in the Western Conference and are seven games unbeaten (5W-0L-2D).

Adding Arango's goals up top should help their bid to take the next step.

"The goal tonight puts a stamp on his introduction to the group," said Mastroeni. "We really have both high expectations for him and the team."