Jámison Olave ended the 2012 MLS campaign with Real Salt Lake thinking that everything was business as usual and that he would be brought back by the club for a sixth season.
RSL had other plans.
Olave was traded from RSL to the New York Red Bulls last month in one of the biggest moves of the MLS offseason, and the news was bittersweet for the 31-year-old center back. On the one hand, he was leaving the a team that provided his career with stability and where he had won an MLS Cup and MLS Defender of the Year award. On the other, he knew he was going to start a new chapter in his life at another club that he holds in high esteem.
“I was really surprised, to be honest,” Olave told MLSsoccer.com. “I didn’t expect to leave Real Salt Lake this year. I was sad, but at the same time I was happy because of all we had accomplished with Real and all that we did. I leave at a time when RSL is playing well and doing things the right way, and I’m even happier because I’m joining a good team as well.”
WATCH: Olave goal vs. San Jose
Either Olave is an expert at public relations or he is truly excited about moving to the East Coast and playing for the Red Bulls. The Colombian defender is full of praise for New York even though he is well aware of the trophy drought that hangs over the Red Bulls.
“They’re one of the biggest clubs in the league, and one with great players,” Olave said. “What happens in the playoffs is different than what happens in the regular season. They’ve made mistakes that have cost them in the playoffs, but undoubtedly they’ve done well the past few campaigns.”
Joining Olave in New York from Real Salt Lake is forward Fabián Espíndola. The Argentine was shipped to the Red Bulls as part of the same deal that saw Olave change addresses, and the imposing, 6-foot-3 defender believes having a former teammate will help as they adapt to their new surroundings on and off the field.
“I think everything will be easier for us both because we’ve played together four, five years and we’ve developed a friendship,” Olave said. “Arriving at a new team, we’re going to be able to support one another.”
One thing Espíndola can't help Olave with is his health. In 2012, the Colombian centerback spent significant time on the sidelines due to injury, featuring in just 21 regular season games, his lowest total since joining MLS in 2008.
“The injuries last season were tough because I missed important games, like in CONCACAF Champions League and in the playoffs, but you learn from everything,” Olave said. “Maybe there were errors on the preparation side, maybe there were errors on the medical side of it, but you learn from everything. Fortunately, I’m healthy now and hopefully things are better this year than they were in 2012.”
The Red Bulls are hoping that is the case as well. New York sporting director Andy Roxburgh has spoken at length about acquiring players with MLS "know-how" and Olave fits the bill.
The defender has already spoken to Roxburgh and other members of the Red Bulls front office and is eager to get started after listening to their plan for delivering New York their first MLS Cup trophy.
“I’m very excited. It’s a great team, it’s a great city,” Olave said. “They’re building a quality team with quality players because they have a big project with the goal of becoming champions. So being part of this makes me extremely happy.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.