Herriman, Utah (Wednesday, June 12, 2019) – After a worldwide search, Real Salt Lake announced on Wednesday that the club has hired Tom Spall as Academy Director, bringing an expansive vision to one of the most successful USSDA academies in Major League Soccer.
“We had a deep pool of well-qualified applicants and Tom stood out because of his impressive credentials and his extensive knowledge of Academies through his previous work with Doublepass,” RSL Assistant General Manager Elliot Fall said. “His vision for the future of the RSL Academy runs in lock-step with what we envisioned, but he also adds new dimensions to what we believe we can achieve through youth development.”
A longtime coach at the youth and professional levels, Spall has worked extensively with the English Premier League for the last six years and Major League Soccer for the last three years as an assessor and project manager for each league’s youth development systems. His work with the Elite Player Performance Plan in England and Doublepass in the U.S. and Canada has put him in touch with youth development setups around the world while also giving him the supervisory role to make assessments and provide reports for the clubs and federations.
“Our Academy is a huge component to our long-term planning as an organization, so that made this hire very important to the trajectory of those long-term goals,” RSL Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Rob Zarkos said. “In talking with Tom and getting a sense for what he envisions for the Academy, he solidifies a lot of the projections for where we can take the club through the growth at the Academy level.”
Prior to his work with the EPPP and Doublepass, Spall was an Academy coach with Barnsley FC and Sheffield United FC from 2010-2013, an assistant manager at Bottesford Town FC from 2010-2011 and served as the Head of Youth Development for Lincoln City FC from 2005-2010 and in a similar role for Scunthorpe United from 2000-2005.
“My philosophies are similar to the club’s. For me, it’s all about helping RSL be the best Development Academy in North America,” Spall said. “There’s a structure in place already. I see my role as linking the foundation to the Academy in Arizona and the Academy here. It’s like a big puzzle and we’re trying to bring it all together.”
Real Salt Lake’s Academy has long garnered attention for its success on the field and in developing professional players. In addition to winning the 2012-13 USSDA U-15/16 championship, RSL has twice since reached the final along with reaching the final in the GA Cup in 2014.
Real Salt Lake has signed 21 Academy products to first-team contracts, including 12 on the current roster. Among those who have signed, 2018 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year Corey Baird has started in three matches for the U.S. National Team while Justen Glad and Brooks Lennon have also been called into U.S. camps and Carlos Salcedo has been a mainstay for the Mexican National Team. In total, 53 products of the RSL Academy have signed professional contracts.