HERRIMAN, Utah (Thursday, August 4, 2022) – Real Salt Lake added 22-year old MF Braian Ojeda to its roster via one-year loan from English Premier League side Nottingham Forest, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and work visa. The Paraguayan international is the first-ever RSL player to be added to its roster via Major League Soccer’s U-22 mechanism.
Ojeda joined Nottingham Forest last August at the outset of their EFL Championship campaign, appearing in three matches following a South American club career in his native Paraguay and a year-long loan in Argentina. Throughout Ojeda’s first European season, the athletic two-way midfielder made four international appearances for Paraguay, each full FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Ojeda has also made 16 appearances for La Albirroja youth international sides at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 (Olympic) levels.
As an 18-year-old, Ojeda made his professional debut with Paraguay’s oldest and most historically-dominant club, Olimpia, who he represented as a youth. Between December 2018, and August 2021, Ojeda made 40 appearances with Olimpia, while also spending time on loan in Argentina with first-division side Defensa y Justicia, appearing in 12 matches.
“Braian is a dynamic, two-way midfielder who will bring another option to our already talented group in the center of the pitch,” said RSL General Manager Elliot Fall. “He is a player hungry to compete and develop, while also bringing valuable international experience from his time with Nottingham Forest and Paraguay. We look forward to getting him on the ground in Salt Lake and competing for minutes soon.”
Ojeda becomes the youngest international on Real Salt Lake’s roster, the Paraguayan one year younger than Argentine MF Pablo Ruiz. Ojeda arrives as the Claret-and-Cobalt’s second-ever Paraguayan international, joining 2016 FW Pedro Báez. In MLS, Ojeda becomes the ninth Paraguayan, all but one playing for Western Conference sides. During the League’s 26-year history, Ojeda will become the 20th Paraguayan to appear once he logs his first MLS minute.
Major League Soccer’s U-22 initiative is designed to allow MLS clubs to add players age 22 and younger to rosters, often with lucrative contracts at a reduced budget charge, decreasing the risk associated with acquiring or retaining players still approaching their prime.
Pronunciation: BRY-an oh-HEY-duh
Hometown: Itauguá, Paraguay
Date of Birth: 27 June 2000 (22)
How Acquired: Signed via MLS U-22 initiative on loan from Nottingham Forest FC (England)
TRANSACTION: Real Salt Lake add MF Braian Ojeda from Nottingham Forest FC (England) on Thursday, August 4, 2022
As of August 4, 2022, Real Salt Lake’s current roster during the ongoing MLS campaign, listed alphabetically by position, is as follows:
Goalkeepers (4): Gavin Beavers, Jeff Dewsnup, Tomas Gomez, Zac MacMath
Defenders (10): Andrew Brody, Zack Farnsworth, Justen Glad, Bret Halsey, Aaron Herrera, Erik Holt, Johan Kappelhof, Jaziel Orozco, Marcelo Silva, Tate Schmitt
Midfielders (11): Julio Benitez, Nick Besler, Scott Caldwell, Maikel Chang, Bode Hidalgo, Damir Kreilach, Jasper Löffelsend, Diego Luna, Braian Ojeda, Pablo Ruiz, Jude Wellings
Forwards (9): Sergio Cordova, Chris Garcia, Anderson Julio, Axel Kei, Justin Meram, Danny Musovski, Rubio Rubin, Jefferson Savarino, Bobby Wood
With 34 points accumulated through 23 games of the 2022 MLS campaign, Real Salt Lake (9-7-7, 34 pts, 5th West) is part of an eight-team glut from 3rd to 10th place separated by just five points in the race for the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs (seven teams) and a home postseason match (four teams). Under Pablo Mastroeni, the Club’s sixth head coach in 18 seasons, RSL
For the first time in Club history, RSL has opened the year with 12 consecutive sellouts at Rio Tinto Stadium – the 7-1-3 (W-L-T) home record amongst the best in MLS this season – while Mastroeni and staff have utilized 28 players and 24 starters throughout an injury-filled first half of the year, as the Club has seen nearly 160 combined games of player availability lost due to injury, suspension or international duty.
Real Salt Lake finished last season in dramatic fashion, booking its place in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs on Decision Day before making a run to the Western Conference Final following a 14-14-6 regular-season record. Saturday’s match at Rio Tinto Stadium against star-studded LAFC featuring Carlos Vela (Mexico), Gareth Bale (Wales) and Giorgio Chiellini (Italy) is expected to threaten the venue’s all-time attendance mark, set back in September, 2018, against Zlatan and the LA Galaxy.
ABOUT REAL SALT LAKE
During the first week of January 2022, the RSL compendium of properties was acquired by global sports entrepreneur David Blitzer – who boasts interests in the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), the New Jersey Devils (NHL), the Cleveland Guardians (baseball) and six European soccer entities, including Crystal Palace (England), FC Augsburg (Germany), Estoril (Portugal), ADO Den Haag (Netherlands), Alcorcon (Spain) and SK Beveren (Belgium). The Blitzer group partners with Utah-based Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), which owns the Utah Jazz (NBA), led by Ryan Smith and including Dwayne Wade, among others.
Real Salt Lake kicked off its 18th Major League Soccer season this February, its first full season under Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni, who led the Utah side for the final 100 days last year, advancing RSL to the 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the 11th time in the last 14 years.
The club's MLS Cup 2009 victory marked the state of Utah's only major professional championship in nearly 40 years, the title preceding an historic run to the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League Final. Buoyed by a passionate base boasting several thousand season ticket holders, RSL has enjoyed a prominent home-field advantage – posting a dominant 153-45-48 (Win-Loss-Draw) record across all competitions at home (2.06 points per game for a 0.722 win pct.) – since building its permanent Rio Tinto Stadium home in Sandy 13 years ago.
In 2015, the club expanded its development pyramid with the addition of Real Monarchs SLC, one of several MLS-operated clubs playing in the USL Championship, the United States' Division II setup. The Monarchs boast a pair of titles in its brief history, as the 2017 USL regular-season champions, later winning the USL Final in 2019. For the 2022 season and beyond, Real Monarchs will compete in the newly launched “MLS NEXT Pro” as part of a joint United States and Canada endeavor to complete the professional player pathway by connecting youth academies in MLS NEXT to first teams in Major League Soccer.
The entire RSL pyramid, which includes the RSL Academy’s U-15 and U-17 teams, calls the expansive Zions Bank Training Center in Herriman, Utah their daily training home. With five world-class grass fields, two indoor turf fields, a residential dormitory, the STEM-based RSL Academy High School and the 5,000-seat Zions Bank Stadium located on a 42-acre campus, Utah’s sporting future is bright.
The RSL Community Foundation was established in 2016, created with the goals of being active in the community year-round, utilizing the popularity and reach of RSL and the Monarchs in promoting health and wellness in children throughout the region, engaging supporters of soccer to raise funds and volunteer time for various local initiatives.