When Paulo Araujo Jr. was first signed by Real Salt Lake over a year ago, he made an immediate impact for the club. His first appearance was made at Rio Tinto Stadium during a CONCACAF Champions League group stage match against fellow MLS team Toronto FC. He was subbed in late in the match with everything to prove. He scored a goal minutes after coming on to complete a 4-1 thumping of Toronto.
The blooming forward was pretty unknown to RSL fans upon being brought in on loan by the Salt Lake side from the second tier of North American soccer. He was supposedly a good forward capable of scoring in the second division. Would that all-star success translate to his MLS play? The answer: Yes!
His fantastic form continued into the next season, 2011. During Real’s home opener against budding rivals LA Galaxy, Paulo was able to draw and PK that was scored by Javier Morales and score a goal in another 4-1 scoreline. At this point the forward’s last name had unofficially been changed from Araujo to Junior by endearing fans. The speedy youngster was everything a fan could ask for. He was a lightning quick forward with a keen talent of making back-post runs and finishing. The young forward had everything going for him. He was always the obvious choice as the third-string forward behind Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola.
Everything changed for Paulo after being injured for a big part of the 2011 season and never truly coming back to full form. His speed had been lost and he didn’t play as quickly or with enough urgency to really shine in the RSL XI.
Throughout the beginning of this season, the Brazilian native continued to struggle as he had during most of the 2011 season. He scored one goal on penalty kick against brand new expansion side Montreal. After several more months that must have been quite frustrating for Paulo Junior he was given news that he was to be loaned back out to the second division. This was an alert of sorts for Paulo. Almost a threat. This was his last chance. If he did well on the short-term loan, learned his lesson, and made an impact on Real Salt Lake similar to the one he made upon his first arrival, he would stay and earn some minutes. If he didn’t, we wouldn’t be seeing him in claret and cobalt much longer.
Paulo’s first match back from the loan spell was just yesterday against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Leading up to the game head coach Jason Kreis said that he’d been very impressed with Junior’s performance since returning to Salt Lake City. I am almost positive that nearly every Real fan let out an enormous sigh of relief at the moment that Paulo Jr. pulled a crafty move to round a Whitecaps defender and then sent in a lethal cross that landed right on the head of Nat Borchers, who directed the ball down into the back corner of the netting. It was Paulo Junior’s first assist of the season. Hopefully his short and promising performance shows that Paulo is really back for good. I can only feverishly hope that this assist of his ramps up to his production of more goals and assists later this season! If Paulo Jr. continues to perform and improve he could regain his title as one of the most exciting forwards to watch in MLS!
Good luck Paulo!!!
FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD
A fantastic and motivational RSL video made by a passionate fan of the Claret and Cobalt.
RSL loses yet another road game 2-1 against Western Conference contenders Vancouver Whitecaps.
Real fails to find the back of the net and falls 0-1 to rivals Colorado Rapids.
Real Salt Lake drops their first Champions League group stage game 0-1 on the road.
Kwame Watson-Siriboe. I doubt any Real Salt Lake fan had even heard the unusual name before the Salt Lake club signed him thanks to assistant coach C.J. Brown’s special relationship with the young player. He was drafted by the Chicago Fire several years ago. Kwame hardly got any minutes of playing time in his first three seasons in MLS. It was a rough start in professional soccer for Watson-Siriboe. Luckily for RSL, C.J. Brown, a former Chicago man himself, took particular interest in the new player from the University of Connecticut.
The young defender grew up in Chino Hills, California. While playing college soccer for UConn his senior year Kwame earned First Team All-Big East honors. What went on at Chicago is somewhat of a mystery. In the Fire’s coaching staff’s eyes, he must have been a player just waiting to make a breakthrough. He was always good enough to stay on the roster, but never quite ready to really make the jump to the first team. Either Chicago’s coaching staff was flat-out wrong, or being brought to Real Salt Lake was what it took for Kwame Watson-Siriboe to make the breakthrough that he’s waited for his whole career.
The ex-Chicago player chose to take on the number three on the back of his claret and cobalt jersey. Whether he knew it or not, that number formerly belonged to Real defender Robbie Russel, who played a major part in the club’s history. His conversion of his penalty kick in the 2009 MLS Cup gave Real Salt Lake the star above their crest. The legacy could continue as Kwame finds his way deeper into the roots of the club’s system. It’s really quite amazing the way he has been able to meld with the squad so quickly. The RSL Way seems almost second nature to Watson-Siriboe. He understands the role of a centerback clad in the Claret and Cobalt of Real Salt Lake. He has a strong presence. He’s solid, doesn’t let anything slip. If the ball gets past him, the player doesn’t. If the player gets past him, the ball doesn’t.
This role is especially crucial to fill for the club when looking into the future. Our two regular centerbacks, Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers (dubbed “Borlave” by Matthew Montgomery) are aging. As they age they grow more injury-prone and cost more to keep at the club. In other words, it is very improbable for both to stay at the club for many more seasons. Kwame Watson-Siriboe playing in his current form is exactly what RSL is in need of. A very athletic and capable central defender that understands his role and is able to play it extremely well.
Kwame really showed better than anyone else on the pitch, from both sides, today as Real Salt Lake took on the Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite how agitated I was as a supporter seeing my team unable to create goals and play beautiful soccer, I couldn’t help but smile upon the spectacular composure and dedication of the new defender.
Real Salt Lake should be proud of their acquisition of the former Chicago defender. He has the potential to be one of the RSL greats. I have faith in him and can only hope for the best and wait.
UPWARD AND ONWARD