The Real Salt Lake Academy U15s returned the organization to prominence among MLS Academies on Monday with a dramatic shootout victory to secure a spot in the MLS NEXT Cup Semifinal in Frisco, Texas.  A series of outstanding performances throughout the tournament led to the excitement in the closing moments on Sunday.

The U15s began the tournament with clear confidence and readiness to put Real Salt Lake back on the Academy’s biggest stage. In the opening match,RSL cruised to a 3-0 victory over Orlando City with goals from Axel Kei, Angel Montesinos and Evan Pickering and a shut out from goalkeeper Fernando Delgado.

In the next match, Kei recorded a hat trick to lead the team to a 5-3 win over Southern California’s Total Futbal Academy, earning a spot in the quarterfinals.

Facing Sockers FC from Chicago, Illinois, a club that has produced numerous professionals including former Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson, RSL stepped up to the daunting task and with an equalizer from Pickering the team headed into penalty kicks. Delgado, who has spent much of this year training with the Real Monarchs in the USL Championship, proved to be the hero, making two saves to clinch a spot in the semifinal match.

“This tournament has been a fantastic learning experience and a reward for a whole year of hard work for our U15s,” RSL Academy Director of Coaching Arnold Rijsenburg said.

The team will now face the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m. MT.The match will be streamedlive on mlssoccer.com/mlsnext/live.

In addition to the U15s outstanding performances down in Texas, the U17s earned their first win in the MLS NEXT showcase with a 1-0 win over Miami Kendall Rush SC thanks to a goal from Yekeson Subah.

Back home in Utah, 16-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Beavers made his professional debut with the Real Monarchs, becoming the youngest-ever to appear in between the pipes in a USL Championship match. He was joined on the pitch by four other products from the RSL Academy.

At the Major League Soccer level Homegrown Player Justen Glad scored Real Salt Lake’s lone goal in the 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo FC. Glad was one of five products of the RSL Academy in the starting lineup, including the whole back four and goalkeeper David Ochoa.

RSL won the 2012-13 USSDA U15/16 National Championship and reached the final four in several other seasons.

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