SANDY, Utah (Tuesday, September 6, 2016) – Real Salt Lake announced the signing of Homegrown FW Ricardo Velazco after the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy product had two standout seasons with the USL’s Real Monarchs.
“From an organizational standpoint we are really proud that Ricardo is the first player that has followed the complete progression route from the Academy through the USL team and now to the first team. Ricardo has performed well enough to capitalize on this opportunity and he has earned it,” RSL General Manager Craig Waibel said. “For the organization, this is a proud day and with the new facility in Herriman coming in the next 12 months, we will certainly see more and more players follow in Ricardo's footsteps as we grow.”
Velazco has enjoyed a breakout season in his second year with the Monarchs, leading the team with eight goals, including a remarkable strike to equalize in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Tulsa Roughnecks at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“This means the world for me and my family. This has been a dream for me and my dad for a long time,” Velazco said. “I had a very unique route and there have always been eyes on me. I told myself along the way that it’s never over unless I give up and I’m glad I took the route that I did and I’m thankful for the mentors I had that helped me along the way.”
Velazco, 23, played two seasons under current Real Monarchs Head Coach Freddy Juarez with the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy from 2010-2012. From there, he started his collegiate career at Cal State San Bernardino. In his freshman season, he led the Coyotes with six goals, starting in 12 of his 14 appearances during his lone season with the NCAA Division II program. In 2013, he transferred to Louisville, where he notched 13 goals and 14 assists in 42 matches over two seasons. Following his junior season, he signed with Real Monarchs in the USL.
During his first professional season, Velazco led the Monarchs with four assists, also scoring two goals in the club’s inaugural campaign. He has followed that up with eight goals and five assists in his second season, helping keep the Monarchs in contention for the playoffs at 9-11-6.
“The things Ricardo has been doing with the Monarchs has been noticed and he’s being rewarded for the work he’s done. If you do it at each level, you’re going to be rewarded and Ricardo is a great model for how things are working,” Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jeff Cassar said. “It’s a massive step for the club and a massive step for him and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Velazco is the sixth product of the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy on the current Real Salt Lake roster, joining GK Lalo Fernandez, DF Phanuel Kavita, DF Justen Glad, MF Danilo Acosta and MF Jordan Allen. In addition, MF Sebastian Saucedo is on loan to Veracruz in Mexico.
“He’s worked on his entire game and become a better pro,” Juarez said. “He’s developed a shot – five or six of his goals have been great goals from a tough angle. He’s become a leader and matured as a young man and developed the on and off-field type of leadership and professionalism that have helped him take big strides on the field. I think he’s earned it and it’s exciting.”
Real Salt Lake is in the midst of a playoff chase and faces the LA Galaxy Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT, and RSL will finish the week on the road, facing the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Saturday.
Transaction: Real Salt Lake signs forward Ricardo Velazco as a Homegrown Player on Sept. 6, 2016.