The Real Salt Lake Academy U-15 side is preparing to travel to Germany to take part in a two-week tour of the country, competing in two international friendlies, as well as the Augsburg Whitsun Tournament, hosted by FC Augsburg. The RSL Academy will be one of 10 international clubs competing in the tournament and the only North American side making its way across the pond. Prior to this first-ever European tour, let's take a look at the squads RSL will be facing up against in its preseason trip.
Wednesday, August 17 - friendly against TSV 1860 München
Thursday, August 18 - friendly against FC Heidenheim
Friday, August 19 - group match one against FC Augsburg
Saturday, August 20 - group match two against BSC Young Boys
Saturday, August 20 - group match three against BSC Puskás Akadémia
Saturday, August 20 - group match four against Juventus FC
Sunday, August 21 - knockout matches, opponents to be determined
The U-15 squad will kick off its Germany tour by participating in friendly matches with TSV 1860 München and FC Heidenheim. TSV 1860 München is one of the founding clubs of the Bundesliga, the top division of German football. Now competing in the third division, 1860 München still holds one of the top flight academies in the country, producing the likes of US Men’s National Team fullback Fabian Johnson and RSL striker Bobby Wood. Meanwhile, FC Heidenheim is a club on the rise in German football after breaking away from its parent association Heidenheimer Sportbund in 2007. Since its separation, Heidenheim has promoted itself from the sixth division to 2. Bundesliga, including near promotion to top flight Bundesliga in 2020. FC Heidenheim, like its senior team, has an ever growing academy that is starting to produce first team players as well as Bundesliga talent.
At the Augsburg Whitsun Tournament, the RSL Academy will be competing in Group 1 along with FC Augsburg (Germany), Juventus FC (Italy), Puskás Akadémia (Hungary) and BSC Young Boys (Switzerland). The U-15s will face each club in its group for 35 minute placement matches from Friday, August 19 to Sunday, August 21 to hopefully move onto the final Sunday afternoon.
Hosts FC Augsburg belong to Real Salt Lake owner David Blitzer as part of his large football umbrella which oversees five other soccer clubs, including Crystal Palace (England), Estoril (Portugal), ADO Den Haag (Netherlands), Alcorcón (Spain) and SK Beveren (Belgium). Like Real Salt Lake, FC Augsburg exists within the David Blitzer umbrella, belonging to his extensive network of global football clubs. FC Augsburg was founded in 1907 and are currently in the midst of its 12 season in the Bundesliga. Since the early 2010s, Augsburg has been a mainstay in the Bundesliga and consistently competing for Europa League qualification. The German club has had multiple notable players come through its senior and youth teams, including RSL forward Sergio Cordova and former FC Dallas star Ricardo Pepi. Additionally, 2021 and 2022 MLS All-Star Kai Wagner from Philadelphia Union is a product of the club’s academy, as well as Sporting Kansas City midfielder Erik Thommy.
Juventus FC is one of the most storied franchises in all of football. The Italian giants are consistently competing for the world’s highest honors and have taken home countless trophies, including 36 Seria A titles, 14 Copa Italia championships, two Champions League trophies, and nine Supercopa Italiana. The Juventus’ Academy is also a force to be reckoned with, producing Italian National Team players such as Claudio Marchisio, Leonardo Spinazzok and Ciro Immobile, as well as former Toronto FC star Sebastin Giovinco and former Orlando City midfielder Antonio Nocerino. Juventus FC has also seen some of its stars come to MLS with superstars like Federico Bernardeschi (Toronto FC), Giorgio Chiellini (LAFC) and Andrea Pirlo (NYCFC) making the move stateside.
Young Boys is currently one of the top clubs in Switzerland, winning 15 league titles, including four consecutively from 2018-2021. Last season, the club competed in UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds before moving to the Europa League and making it all the way to the Round of 16 before falling to Ajax FC. The Young Boys Academy has gone on to turn out top talent for the Swiss National Team, such as Yvon Mvogo, Michael Aelascher, Francois Affolter and Leonardo Bertone.
Puskás Akadémia competes in the Nemzeti Bajnoksag I, the top flight of Hungarian football. The Hungarian Club has finished in the top three in each of its past three seasons, reaching the Europa League qualifying matches each time. Puskás Akadémia has also produced Hungarian National Team talent Zsolt Nagy, Roland Salloi and Csaba Spandler.
If the RSL Academy reach the final of the Augsburg Whitsun Tournament, the U-15 side will have the possibility of facing many other European giants, including Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Luxembourg National Team (Luxembourg), FCA Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) and Danish Silkeborg IF (Switzerland). The team will return to the States on August 22 to prepare for the 2022-23 MLS NEXT season, seeking a third-consecutive trip to the MLS NEXT Cup Final.