Saturday’s game at the LA Galaxy will mean a little something extra to Real Salt Lake striker Yura Movsisyan.
Movsisyan, who returned to Salt Lake this winter after spending six years in Europe, has plenty of sporting reasons to be excited for the match, which will pit unbeaten RSL against the star-studded Galaxy (10:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE).
He also has plenty of personal ones, too.
Movsisyan was born in Azerbaijan to Armenian parents, but left the country when he was four or five, not long after Armenians were killed in a pogrom in the capital city, Baku. The family eventually settled in LA, home to the US’s largest Armenian community.
Saturday’s match will be Movsisyan’s first time playing in LA since he left RSL for Europe following the 2009 season. If playing in his hometown after six years away wasn’t enough, Saturday’s match also falls one day before the 101st anniversary of the start of the genocide in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed.
That ramps up the occasion even more for Movsisyan, who told ExtraTime Radio on Monday that expects “thousands” of his countrymen to make it out to StubHub Center for Saturday’s encounter
“Oh definitely, it’s going to be a special night,” he said. “I don’t know if many people know about this, but April 24 is the 101-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide. This is a special day for all the Armenians around the world, and to have the game a day before that is actually very special.
“Everybody’s excited because I haven’t played in America for a long time, and with all the success we had with the Armenian national team, I mean we’ve got very, very big numbers of Armenians coming to the game. Everybody’s excited. That date is a special one for me. I’ve been looking forward to coming back and playing LA, and that being a day before the anniversary makes it even more special.”
You can check out the entire interview with Movsisyan starting at the 23:00 mark of Monday’s episode of ETR.