HERRIMAN, Utah (Wednesday, January 19, 2022) – The Real Salt Lake Academy has announced the appointment of Jon Spencer as Director of Talent Identification, working with the scouting department to identify new and potential players for Real Salt Lake’s aforementioned academy up to the first team.
“Real Salt Lake is built around a culture and environment that is unparalleled. The energy around this Club is exciting. Whether it is in the hard work and commitment from our new ownership, front office and on the field, the Club is built around the RSL Family and Culture,” Spencer said. "I am excited to join the Real Salt Lake family because of the commitment to player development and our ability to provide first-class facilities, training, and education for soccer players who want to reach their full potential. I have enjoyed identifying and mentoring soccer players over the last decade and feel that we have an excellent environment where we can continue to see the elite talent grow into professional soccer players through our player pathway.”
The RSL Academy, under the leadership of Director of Coaching Arnold Rijensburg, has seen great success in recent years, capturing the 2021 U15 MLS NEXT Cup Championship, earning an undefeated record at the MLS NEXT Fest, and aiding in the signing of nine teenagers as Homegrown Players for Real Salt Lake.
Since joining the Club, Spencer has helped the RSL Academy already add depth to its two squads with the additions of forward Kevin Hernandez, defender Jonathan Orduna and midfielder Josue Reyes.
“We are constantly striving to improve the depth and breadth of our pyramid with key staff additions in pursuit of maintaining ourselves as a top academy in the country. Jon Spencer provides a unique perspective - from his playing, coaching and representation careers - that allows us to identify and recruit top talent into our Utah setup, while also providing our players with a valuable resource to help them progress to the next level,” RSL Technical Director Kurt Schmid said.
Spencer’s announcement comes on the heels of announcing former Homegrown Player Jordan Allen as the head coach of the U17 RSL Academy team. These two appointments put further emphasis on the Club’s commitment to being a leader of youth development in the United States, creating an infrastructure to attract the top talent, coach them into better players and eventually help them succeed to the next level in their soccer careers.
Before joining RSL Spencer served as the head coach for Orange Lutheran High School and Servite High School, winning 7 consecutive league championships and two CIF titles. During his tenure as a head coach, he also ran the club Orange County Blue Star as its General Manager, a USL Premier Development League team that has produced numerous Major League Soccer athletes, including RSL Assistant Coach Matt Taylor.
Prior to his coaching days he spent time as an agent, scouting elite soccer players in the United States with the intention to help young players in their individual paths forward. He mentored and represented United States Men’s National Team players Cristian Roldan, Ethan Horvath, and DeAndre Yedlin, and El Salvador National Team Captain Alex Roldan. Yedlin was the first Seattle Sounders homegrown player to be transferred to Europe after the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In 2021, the Roldan brothers, both members of Seattle Sounders FC, were the first brothers to be part of the MLS ALL-STAR Game. Spencer has worked with numerous players across MLS and Europe.
Both RSL Academy teams are set to return to MLS NEXT league play for the first time in the calendar year on February 19 at San Jose Earthquakes in Livermore, Calif.