Fresh off winning the 2022 MLS NEXT Cup Golden Boot, 15-year-old Utah native, Zavier Gozo is just getting started.
After impressive performances at MLS NEXT Cup, Generation Adidas Cup and with the United States Youth National Team, the young striker is now looking to take the professional ranks by storm.
This is On the Rise: Zavier Gozo
Hailing from Eagle Mountain, Utah, Gozo joined the Real Salt Lake Academy at the start of the 2021-22 season as one of the few Beehive State representatives in the RSL organization.
He then quickly established himself as a prolific dribbler and having a lethal eye for goal. The young striker made his presence known during the 2022 MLS NEXT regular season, the top flight of youth soccer in the US, using his pace and craftiness on the ball to beat defenders and find the back of the net.
As the new year rolled around, Gozo continued his offensive tear, helping the RSL U-15s achieve a top three finish in the MLS NEXT regular-season standings and qualification into the top two youth tournaments in North America, Generation Adidas Cup and MLS NEXT Cup.
While he had a strong showing at GA Cup, he truly shined at the MLS NEXT Cup. Gozo helped lead the RSL U-15s to its second-consecutive MLS NEXT Cup final. Despite not being able to lift the trophy back-to-back seasons, the Utah native netted a penalty in the final and earned the tournament’s Golden Boot award for his five goals.
His play at MLS NEXT Cup caught the eye of Marcus Chairez, a notable US Youth Soccer blogger.
“Zavier is an athletic, dynamic and confident winger that likes to attack and find his shot,” Chairez said. “He scored a bunch of big goals and was continuously getting in dangerous spots. He has one of the highest ceilings of any 2007 player I have scouted.”
Gozo’s high ceiling was not just noticed by Chairez but coaches and scouts in the USYNT Ranks. Throughout his first season at the RSL Academy, Gozo received several call ups into the USYNT U-15 side, including a trip to the Torneo delle Nazioni in Italy alongside teammate Luis Rivera.
“I was kind of shocked by how good the other countries were, but we performed well. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot from it,” Gozo said.
The young striker did not just impress on the pitch, but off it as well, showing a lot of maturity at a young age.
“With Gozo, it is really about enjoying him and his progression and his maturity,” RSL Academy Head Coach Andrew May said. “Since day one that he was brought in here, his maturity and progression is something he can be proud of and something that the coaching staff is proud of as well.”
Everything is looking up for Zavier Gozo after the 2022 season, but he is not satisfied. He knows this is just the beginning.
When Gozo walks into a room, the way he carries himself leads you to believe he's got what it takes to be a top striker. The Utah native is overflowing with confidence and has a presence that all great goal-scorers have. Something that has not gone unnoticed within the RSL organization.
“Zavier has a presence you can feel which is an innate self-belief that really comes out when he is on the field,” RSL legend and Assistant General Manager Tony Beltran said. “It is a fire that fuels his performance in matches and in the little moments in the training environment that have gotten him to where he is now.”
That self-belief will be a driving force as Gozo not only looks to play a year up in the U-17 age group, but looks to step into a professional match.
“I want to make my [Real] Monarchs debut, get my first professional goal and then make my debut with the first team,” Gozo said.
While the Utah native strives for the next level and looks to be a consistent player in the professional and national team ranks, he knows it will not come without hard work.
“As a young, talented player, professional or not, it is important to be conscious of the larger goal, but it is about the smaller goals between the big goals that are important to understand so that there is a road map on how to get there,” Beltran added. “So for Zavier, it is about continuing to evolve his game and to strengthen the amount of tools he has in his tool box while doing the things that already make him successful is going to help translate at the next level.”
“For Gozo, it is about him getting better each day and taking on the next challenge, whatever that may be,” May explained. “There is no pressure for him to make big strides or big jumps, it is just getting better each day and tackling the next challenge.”
2022 was a big year for Gozo, filled with plenty of goals, awards and USYNT callups. In 2023, he wants to go even bigger.
And this is just the beginning.