As the academic year comes to a close, the end of another season for the RSL Academy draws near, but before the dormitories and training facilities go dormant for the summer, the U15 and U17 squads will compete in the MLS NEXT Championship in Dallas, Texas for one last chance to dawn the RSL Crest this season.
The single-elimination tournament begins June 25 and will run until the following weekend, with the final being held on Saturday, July 3 with 128 teams from across the country featuring in the tournament. Among those vying for the title are the U15s from the RSL Academy, who finished second in the Northwest Pacific Division to clinch their spot as one of the 32 teams in its age group who earned the right to compete in Dallas for the MLS NEXT Cup.
The U15s are headlined by goalkeeper Fernando Delgado, who has spent much of 2021 training with the Real Monarchs in the USL Championship, even making the gameday roster as a backup netminder.
The RSL Academy U17 squad will accompany the U15s to Texas to participate in the showcase tournament, which provides an additional exposure platform for players to compete at the highest levels of competition in the league’s newest growth initiative. The team will be joined by Real Monarchs midfielder Julio Benitez, as well as Haroun Conteh and Gavin Beavers. The trio travelled to Texas with the RSL Academy after having featured on the Monarchs match roster for its 1-1 draw at Tacoma Defiance on June 23.
Prior to the start of the tournament, MLS NEXT released a list of nine “Players to Watch”, a list that included Benitez. The midfielder became the youngest to ever appear in a Real Monarchs game at 15 years 10 months and 24 days old and the fifth youngest in USL Championship history.