SANDY — After losing midfielders Ned Grabavoy and Sebastian Velasquez to former boss Jason Kreis and New York City FC, Real Salt Lake is on the verge of signing a deep-lying playmaker to take their spot, according to media reports.
RSL is in the process of signing Brazilian midfielder Wellington De Jorge Estanislau Paeckart, better known as Pecka, from the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League, according to a report by Sports Illustrated.
The move was first reported by SI.com's Liviu Bird. RSL does not comment on pending transfers or rumors, though the deal likely wouldn't be official until the league office reopens Jan. 5 following the holiday break.
Real Salt Lake has signed Fort Lauderdale midfielder Wellington Pecka. He's a deep-lying playmaker type and Flamengo academy product. — Liviu Bird (@liviubird) December 24, 2014
The 25-year-old Pecka scored two goals in 1,528 minutes across 17 appearances (16 of them starts) with the second-division Strikers after the club announced it had re-signed him in 2014. The native of Brazil and Flamengo academy product spent part of last season on loan with Madeira Esporte Club, returning to Florida in April and helping Fort Lauderdale to a runner-up finish in the NASL Soccer Bowl playoffs, despite sitting out all but three starts of the NASL's spring season with injuries.
Pecka captained the Strikers during the NASL's fall season in 2013, when he had one assist in 17 appearances, all starts.
The deep-lying midfielder has spent the most time playing in the defensive midfield role, but he has experience across multiple positions in the middle of the field and could be a strong replacement for Grabavoy in RSL's 4-4-2 diamond.
Pecka played for the Strikers when current RSL assistant Daryl Shore held the head coaching tag in Fort Lauderdale. The Brazilian international also represented the U-18 Brazilian national team at the 2006 Sendai Cup in Japan.
Pecka was one of the longest-tenured players with the Strikers, and Fort Lauderdale felt like home to the native of South America.
"This is like home to me, like family," Pecka said in Q&A with strikers.com. "I've been here three years now. I am one of the players here the longest."