SANDY, Utah – Robbie Findley knows the expectations are high. That's no surprise after returning to the Real Salt Lake team he helped lead to the MLS Cup four years ago.
Teammates want to see the lightning quick speed that allows Findley to motor past backlines to score goals. Opponents are going to want to see what he learned from his two years playing in England. Coaches are looking for him to produce in what should be the prime of his career.
Findley himself has set the bar on the highest rung.
“We’ve got to win the Cup again,” the 27-year-old striker said. “That’s the main goal and everybody knows that. … I always have something to prove. I’ve got to win a spot. I haven’t solidified anything here.”
RSL traded for the rights to Findley earlier this month in an effort to shore up the front line after the offseason departure of Fabián Espíndola. Findley, the club’s third all-time scorer with 29 goals from 2007-10, scored just six goals in 25 games for English Championship club Nottingham Forest.
“It was a good experience and I had a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve learned a few things. I’ve sharpened up a little bit. All those things have gotten me to where I am now. I feel confident and consistent.”
RSL coach Jason Kreis hopes the time across the pond stoked a fire in Findley.
“I think it’s fair to say his career has gone a little bit sideways,” Kreis said. “When he left us, in my eyes his career was skyrocketing. He hasn’t played a whole lot, hasn’t scored a whole lot, hasn’t done a whole lot in England.
“I think he comes back as a player with something to prove, and I’m very excited about that.”
RSL midfielder Javier Morales hasn’t contained his excitement over Findley’s return to the Claret-and-Cobalt. The Argentine playmaker had a career-high 15 assists in 2008 feeding the striker. He expects nothing less now that the pair is reunited.
“I’ve very happy that he’s back,” Morales said. “He’s fast for defenders and I hope that will work like always.”