HERRIMAN, Utah (Tuesday, December 14, 2021) – When the dust settled at this past weekend’s inaugural MLS NEXT Fest in Norco, California, both Real Salt Lake Academy teams found themselves undefeated and sitting atop their respective groups in the Generation adidas Cup Qualifiers. The event featured over 6,000 athletes across a total of 305 teams, but only one player’s collective performance was impressive enough to earn the title of MLS NEXT Fest's Player of the Tournament – RSL U17 captain and central midfielder Jude Wellings.
Wellings’ Player of the Tournament performance included two game-winning goals against Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC. He also led the team to victory over Nashville SC for the side’s third win in four days. Despite the team’s success and his individual play collectively leading to this accolade, the Michigan native aims to keep improving and believes this is just the beginning.
“Those results were huge for us. We only play a certain number of teams from our division during the regular season, so to know that we are at a high level around the country is a huge confidence booster,” said Wellings. “Individually I do feel that I stood out in moments this weekend, but I also need to keep working on staying consistent throughout the whole 90, keeping my passes clean and being a complete midfielder.”
This past year has been one filled with substantial levels of success for Wellings. In the summer he captained the Club's U15 squad to a championship at the first ever MLS NEXT Cup, which then earned him an invitation to train with the U17 U.S. Men's National Team. Additionally, he made his professional debut with Real Monarchs in October.
The Real Salt Lake Academy U17s resume regular-season MLS NEXT league play against the San Jose Earthquakes on February 19, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. MT.