2019 Aaron Herrera: The Process

RSL Academy Product, U.S. Olympic Hopeful and 2019 RSL Defensive Player of the Year Inks New Four-Year Deal

SANDY, Utah – (Friday, December 13, 2019) – Real Salt Lake has signed defender Aaron Herrera to a new long-term contract, keeping the RSL Academy product with the club for four more seasons, the club announced today.

“Aaron has proven himself not only a key part of what we are doing, but a top young player in MLS,” RSL General Manager Elliot Fall said.  “We are thrilled to have him committed to RSL for another four years.”

Herrera, 22, was RSL’s leader in minutes played in 2019, logging 2,768 minutes in 32 appearances.  The right back added four assists while being voted Real Salt Lake’s Defensive Player of the Year for a defense that posted a league-best goals against average over the final 19 games of the season and finished third in MLS over the whole season.  In two seasons with the club, he has started in 45 of his 48 appearances while playing 4,004 minutes.  In addition, he has started in all five of RSL’s MLS Cup Playoff matches in the last two seasons.

“It means a lot to sign with my childhood club.  I’m proud to be playing with my teammates, for the coaching staff and for the fans,” Herrera said.  “It’s a good time for RSL and I feel like we have some unfinished business.  I want to stay here and keep pushing this club to the limits with all the guys that are here and try to take this club to a new level.”

A native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Herrera came to the RSL Academy in the 2011-12 season.  He followed up that success with three seasons at the University of New Mexico, where he totaled seven goals and eight assists in 54 matches, 53 of them as a starter.  The right back led the Lobos in scoring during his junior season in 2017 with five goals and five assists.  That highlighted a banner year for Herrera after he started in five matches to help the U.S. U-20 National Team win the CONCACAF U-20 Championship for the first time and advance to the quarterfinal round of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.  He was one of five RSL Academy products to appear for the U.S. in the World Cup, joining Danilo Acosta, Justen Glad, Brooks Lennon and Sebastian Saucedo.  He and Glad are among four current Real Salt Lake players with U-20 World Cup experience, along withMarcelo Silva (2009) and David Ochoa (2019).

“Aaron is a very good 1v1 defender and adds consistency.  The team voted him Defensive Player of the Year.  That speaks for itself,” RSL Head Coach Freddy Juarez said.  “We’re always happy with a player that can provide that at a young age.  He’s shown a lot of maturity and quality over the last two years and he helps steady our back line.  He has a very high ceiling and we’re going to continue working with him to help him grow.”

Real Salt Lake finished the 2019 season third in the Western Conference at 16-13-5 (53 points) and advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals for the second consecutive season.  RSL will open the 2020 season on the road against Orlando City SC on February 29 before returning to Rio Tinto Stadium for the home opener against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, March 7, at 12 p.m. MT.

Real Salt Lake's current roster headed into 2020, listed alphabetically by position, is below:

Goalkeepers (2): David Ochoa, Andrew Putna
Defenders (5): Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera, Erik Holt, Alvin Jones, Nedum Onuoha
Midfielders (7): Luis Arriaga, Nick Besler, Damir Kreilach, Everton Luiz, Justin Portillo, Pablo Ruiz, Albert Rusnák
Forwards (6): Corey Baird, Sam Johnson, Douglas Martinez, Jefferson Savarino, Tate Schmitt, Julian Vazquez