August is a month where many trialists come to showcase their skills and fight for a spot in the Real Salt Lake Academy. Most will return home having learned from the coaches and trainers but disappointed they didn’t earn one of the few remaining spots on the roster, but one Nevada native was fortunate enough to be in the select group of players to receive a place at the academy, forward Axel Uriostegui.

Uriostegui, commonly known around the Academy as “little Axel,” has the misfortune of sharing a name with one of the most infamous RSL Academy products, Axel Kei. In his time with the Academy, Kei won the 2021 MLS NEXT Cup where he was crowned the Golden Boot winner, made history as the youngest professional athlete to appear for any sport in America, became the youngest goal scorer in MLS NEXT Pro history, and was, at the time, the youngest to ever earn a Major League Soccer contract as an RSL Homegrown. 

So, it’s safe to say Uriostegui had some pretty big shoes to fill.

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As one of the youngest players in the program, Uriostegui’s first semester at the Club was relatively quiet, the short and lanky forward struggled to body his older opponents. But a bit of a growth spurt and some time with the team’s strength and conditioning coach saw him return for the spring semester ready to take on the challenge. 

While the forward has loved the training and travel, he cherishes the relationships he’s been able to build. “You get to build relationships with coaches, friends. We are very strong with each other.”

Not only has Uriostegui found success with RSL Academy, helping the team to the 2022 Generation Adidas Cup Quarterfinal and undefeated runs through MLS NEXT Flex and MLS NEXT Fest, but he’s also been able to break into the Mexican National Team. The Nevada native earned his first call-up in early May for a training camp in Arizona.

Uriostegui knows the expectations are high for the team going into MLS NEXT Cup and is confident in the team’s ability, largely because of the team’s familiarity with one another. “We all know each other and with more time we’re going to be even better together. We have to go in strong. Last year the U15s won the MLS Next Cup and maybe we could do the same this year.” 

Looking to the future, Uriostegui hopes to work his way into a roster spot with Real Monarchs on his journey to playing soccer professionally.