Delentz Pierre’s return to Real Salt Lake is more than a full-circle moment.

It's a reunion of brothers, the continuation of a sometimes turbulent journey and a validation in the face of rejection.

Leaving as a player who didn't make the cut, returning with a first team contract. This is everything in-between Pierre's winding journey back home:

Trouble at the Starting Line

At 14 years old Pierre, along with his younger brother, Bobby, made the trek from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Mesa, Arizona where Real Salt Lake’s academy was hosting tryouts for a few open spots. 

Pierre didn’t make the cut. 

Instead, Pierre was placed on an affiliate club team and told to come back in a year and try again. 

“I came all the way from Florida, tried out and didn’t make it,” Pierre explained. “I knew then it was going to be a challenge, but I was determined to get better and prove myself.”

The next year Pierre made the U-16 squad and was subsequently named the team’s captain. He helped lead the team to a 20-6-6 record, atop the Western Division, and to a victory at the 2017 USSDA Championship.

For the next three years Pierre would amass more than 90 appearances for the Claret-and-Cobalt and become one of the first classes to make the switch from Arizona to the Club’s new training facility in Herriman, Utah.

“It was overwhelming to move to Herriman,” Pierre shared. “For the first time the Club wasn’t just this idea or far off thought, it was a reality.” 

The move meant players, like Pierre, would be given the opportunity to earn training time and play alongside professional players. With the whole Club under one roof talent became even more of a defining characteristic, if someone was good enough to play then they were called upon to suit up. 

Pierre earned such a reward in the summer of 2019. 

The young defender made his professional debut with Real Monarchs in the USL Championship, along with three more appearances throughout the months of June and July. 

With the end of summer quickly approaching and a professional contract unlikely to be on the horizon Pierre made the decision to make the jump to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, signing with the University of Portland. 

Pilots Take Flight 

Pierre’s arrival to Portland brought with it immediate success. In his first year as a Pilot he appeared in all 17 matches, 16 of them starts, earning himself a spot in the All-WCC Freshman Team. 

But despite her personal achievements, the team failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, thus ending his freshman year prematurely. 

Unbeknownst to Pierre, or his teammates, his sophomore year would be hijacked by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing the Pilots to go 15 months without a competitive match. 

Despite the large gap competition, Pierre picked up right where he left off. 

Over the next two seasons Pierre would make 31 appearances and help lead the Pilots to unprecedented back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths. 

“Delentz greatly improved during his time in college soccer and developed into the best left-footed American CB on the West Coast this year in college soccer,” University of Portland Head Coach Nick Carlin-Voigt said. “He’s a very coachable leader who’s fiercely competitive which should give him a good starting point as he transitions to the next level.” 

In November of 2022 Pierre single-handedly punched Portland’s ticket in the NCAA Quarterfinals scoring a stoppage-time winner against Western Michigan to send the team to the “Elite Eight” for the third time in program history and the first since 1995.

However, Portland would fall to the University of Pittsburgh in the next round thanks to an extra-time assist from 2022 RSL’s 16th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft, Bertin Jacquesson, ending a near perfect collegiate career just shy of a chance to compete in the elusive “Final Four.” 

“College was the right choice at the time,” Pierre explained. “I had a lot of maturing to do at my position, and Portland gave me the chance to get an education and fulfill my college dreams while getting to learn and a fast-paced physical level.”

A Full Circle Moment

Before returning to the University of Portland for his senior season Pierre found himself back in Herriman, Utah training for a few weeks with Real Salt Lake and Real Monarchs to keep his fitness up. 

With his brother on contract with Real Monarchs it made sense to return to his old stomping grounds, a chance to train while also getting some much needed family time. 

Pierre’s plans for a professional career were nowhere near the forefront of his mind, but after a conversation with the Real Salt Lake front office his focus began to shift. 

“It started in the summer, I was training with RSL and the front office let me know they were going to be keeping tabs on me,” Pierre said. “They told me to go back to college and just play my game.” 

Just playing his game would eventually pay off as Pierre received a call in November officially offering him a spot as a Homegrown Player for Real Salt Lake. 

The contract gives him the opportunity to once again play in the same club as his brother, ironically playing the same position, back challenging each other as they once did when they were kids just starting out in Mesa, Arizona. 

“It’s really interesting to think about,” Pierre reflected. “I’ve always had these goals for myself, but now to look back it is really a full circle moment for me, it’s years of sacrifice paying off.”

That full circle moment means Pierre will now be on the other side of the training facility, no longer on the sidelines of the Academy locker room, but competing for a spot with the first team.