SANDY, Utah – The fans who attended Real Salt Lake’s Reserve League game against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday were treated to a thrilling 5-5 draw (watch highlights above), but they also got a chance to see RSL’s newest signee in action, as David Viana made his first appearance in a game situation at home.
The 21-year-old French-born Portuguese youth national-teamer didn’t take long to stand out. Playing on the left side of RSL’s diamond midfield, he had his second assist by the 11th minute and slotted home a beautiful shot for a goal of his own in the 25th.
So how did a player of Portuguese and French decent, who was playing in Spain for Atlético Madrid’s third team last season, wind up in Utah? Turns out his agent is a good friend of broadcaster and former RSL man Brian Dunseth.
“We took it seriously," explained RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey. "We scouted him and liked what we saw and brought him over, and we signed him. We’ve done this every year. We wind up signing a guy at the trade deadline that we think can help us at least long-term if not short term. David was that guy.”
Now that Viana is here and the paperwork to get him on the field is complete, there are a number things he can contribute to the team, but also a few he needs to work on.
“I think he’s a kid with a lot of potential, and I think you saw technically what he can do,” said Lagerwey. “He’s got to work on his fitness, he’s got to work on defense. He’s got to adjust to the league, obviously. I think you saw some chippy reactions to fouls and things like that. I think it’s a little more physical here than it is overseas.”
Viana, for his part, agreed with Lagerwey’s assessment.
“I have good technique, and I also have a good vision of the game,” he said through a Spanish interpreter following the Reserve League match, before touching on his fitness. “Over in Europe, the seasons are early and I am not in good game shape. But here they are near the end of the season, and I’m a little behind in my fitness.”
There were several key components that sparked Viana’s interest in RSL and MLS, and fans of the Claret-and-Cobalt can take some of the responsibility for the youngster eventually choosing the club.
“I went to see a game the other day [at Rio Tinto Stadium] and the fans were great,” he said. “I think the atmosphere there was better than what I was used to over in Europe.
“I heard from my sources [RSL] was a good team in America, and it just seemed like a good opportunity for me,” Viana continued. “I wanted to come to the United States because I had a lot more chances to play over here than I did over in Europe.”
Viana is living with forward Paulo Jr., the other Portuguese-speaking player on the squad. He’s also learned to communicate in Spanish as a third language and speaks French as well.
As far as learning English? He says it “is very complicated.” But while he is with the club, besides beginning to learn English, Viana has a couple of other goals in mind.
“I want to get back to playing with the Portuguese national team, and I love to win,” he said.
The latter, of course, will be music to RSL fans’ ears.