While some kids enjoyed playing soccer or surfing while at the beaches of San Diego, forward Max Lora liked to slow it down instead. “My family went to the beach a lot. We’d just go walk around.”

On the pitch though, Lora doesn’t take it easy or slow down. After arriving at Real Salt Lake Academy in August 2021, the forward has scored five goals while helping the team to the quarterfinals of the 2022 Generation Adidas Cup followed by undefeated runs through MLS NEXT Flex and MLS NEXT Fest, and as a result, the team has earned a spot at this summer’s MLS NEXT Cup.

“I just play hard,” Lora explained, “I don’t model my game after anyone.” This hard work and grit earned the California native his first national team call-up to a January training camp with the United States Men’s National U-15 Team, one of three RSL Academy players to receive such an invite at the time.

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As a team though, Lora believes much of the success comes from the feeling around the team of being a family. “With some teams, all you hear is arguing, but we play as a team and that’s what makes us one of the best teams.”

Lora has been a vital part of the team’s success, aiding in their run to the MLS NEXT Cup final, and while he has his sights set on the championship for the trophy, this time there is more than just hardware on the line for the young midfielder.

 “I want to go all the way because the final is on my dad’s birthday, I want to win this one for him.”

Lora is grateful to have a good coaching staff to support him and the team as they head into the tournament, especially Head Coach Andrew May. “He’s won titles, and he has experience being in the finals. He helps us calm down and relax in those situations.” Looking to the future, the forward hopes to play internationally in Europe with some of the best players in the world.