Real Salt Lake have found their Javier Morales replacement, announcing on Friday that they have signed Slovakian international and playmaker Albert Rusnak from Dutch club FC Groningen as a Young Designated Player.
Rusnak, 22, heads to RSL after two years at Groningen, where he recorded 12 goals and nine assists in 76 appearances in the Dutch top flight. His best season was the 2014-15 campaign, in which he tallied seven goals and eight assists in 33 appearances in the Eredivisie with Cambuur and Groningen.
A former member of the Manchester City academy and an experienced Slovak youth international, Rusnak made his debut with the country’s senior national team in a friendly against Austria in November.
"We are extremely excited about what Albert can bring to our attack," Real Salt Lake general manager Craig Waibel said in a club-issued statement. "The arrival from Europe of a young player of his caliber is a big move for our club. He has a really solid pedigree from one of the world's most-respected academies, and what he's done as a young professional to help FC Groningen in the Dutch Eredivisie and for Slovakia on the international level are excellent indicators that he can contribute right away with RSL."
Rusnak drew interest from other clubs in Europe in recent times, including Italian outfit Roma and English side Swansea City, but opted to make RSL his next home. He will likely serve as a replacement for longtime attacking midfielder Morales, who left the club early this offseason and recently signed a free agent deal with FC Dallas.
"What we saw in Albert was a 22-year-old player with vast experience playing in a very demanding league in Holland and a young player who is breaking into his national team," Real Salt Lake head coach Jeff Cassar said in the same statement. "He can get on the score sheet with assists or with goals. He is a dynamic player off the dribble and powerful on the dribble and he can hurt opponents with his passing. He turns up in a lot of different places on the field and another of his strengths is his timing with late runs into the box. We are eager to see how he fits in here in Utah."