He played a significant role in his country’s Copa América campaign, and on Saturday night Jefferson Savarino appeared to serve notice that he’s ready to step up for Real Salt Lake, too.
The Venezuelan winger absolutely terrorized the Philadelphia Union on their visit to Rio Tinto Stadium, scoring two well-taken goals and assisting on a third as RSL destroyed the Eastern Conference leaders 4-0, their third win in their last four games and one that lifts their record to the .500 mark.
“It's always an honor to represent your national team and it's always a very high level of play,” Savarino, who started in two of Venezuela’s four games at the South American championship, told reporters postgame. “That is where you raise your game and since I was able to continue playing with my national team maybe longer than some others this last break, it allows me to keep that level and I hope I can bring it here.”
For player and club alike, Saturday’s outing was the ideal performance in the wake of Savarino’s time in the spotlight at Copa América, one of the most-watched events in world soccer and a de facto shop window for young talent like the 22-year-old from Maracaibo.
“This is the standard. That's the message,”said RSL head coach Mike Petke. “Someone like Savarino who was just at Copa América, and he played incredibly. And there's been some buzz about him and he's come back, and he's been reenergized. And he's putting the work in on both sides of the ball. I thought tonight was possibly his best game since we got him.”
Added Salt Lake center back Justen Glad: “That’s what Savarino brings to the table. He’s got quality and he showed that tonight.”
Already linked with English Premier League sides Newcastle and West Ham by a recent Sky Sports report, Savarino’s stock can only rise after his outing vs. the Union.
The outing showcased the quick feet, audacious one-v-one skill and buzzing work rate he’s shown since arriving in MLS in 2017. Should he add a consistent goalscoring touch to his repertoire, it could well attract hefty transfer bids, as former RSL executive Trey Fitz-Gerald noted this weekend: