Just outside of Del Mar, California one can often find kids playing soccer on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Prior to joining the RSL Academy this was one of Gilberto “Beto” Garcia’s most treasured memories. The California native was constantly coming home, covered in sand from tackles during pickup games with friends. His small-sided matches on the sunny beaches created a passion which led him to City SC in Carlsbad, California where he worked his way through the program until a huge opportunity came his way.

The midfielder was given a chance to be a trialist with Real Salt Lake, unlike some of his eventual teammates who were recruited and earned an automatic spot in Utah. It was Garcia’s individuality that stood out during his trial period, and while some players like to model their playing style after legendary players, Garcia seeks to forge his own path, creating his own style. “I don’t try to model my game after anyone, I try to do my own thing.” Thanks to his high-level technical skills and determination, Garcia accepted an offer to join the Real Salt Lake Academy in Herriman, Utah.

In the summer of 2021, Garcia flew to Utah to meet his new teammates and coaching staff. The midfielder admitted it was difficult at first, but overtime things got better. “In the beginning, not everybody would talk, but now everybody is really close.”

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As the boys gelled more off the field, they improved on the field. This year the U-15 team fought all the way to the quarterfinals of the 2022 Generation Adidas Cup and went undefeated through MLS NEXT Flex and MLS NEXT Fest, earning them a berth in the MLS NEXT Cup.

During the Generation Adidas Cup, Garcia stunned the entire crowd when he hit a long-range free kick against Club Tijuana to help the team earn a 2-1 win over the Mexican side. The curving ball soared over the defensive line, rocketing past the goalkeeper from 30 yards out. The goal was the culmination of a year filled with hard work and long days, far way from his beach-side pick up games,

Much of the growth Garcia has seen individually he attributes to the coaching staff and the environment they create in training. “Everything is at a high level, everything is fast, and I feel like that got me to be a better player.”

In the future, the California native is looking forward to winning MLS NEXT Cup and hopes to play professionally in Europe or in the United States.