The Real Salt Lake Academy is set to begin it MLS NEXT Cup Championship defense this weekend in Frisco, Texas, looking to become the first Club to earn back-to-back U15 MLS NEXT Cup titles.

Under the leadership of Head Coach Andrew May, the RSL Academy U-15 team enters the tournament on a two-game win streak, having recently defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers to finish out the MLS NEXT regular season.

Between the MLS NEXT Fest, the MLS NEXT Flex, and the Generation Adidas Cup, the U-15 team is 12-0-1 across all tournament competitions this season, only drawing in the Quarterfinals of the GA Cup against Valencia CF from Spain. During the regular season the team played to a 15-5-5 record for a combined record of 27-5-6 across all competitions. In 38 matches the RSL Academy U-15 team has only recorded losses to LAFC, LA Galaxy, Sacramento Republic and San Jose Earthquakes.

The team’s first game of the tournament is set for Saturday, June 25 at 8:00 a.m. MT against BW Gottschee Academy. The BW Gottschee Academy is 12-3-3 across all competitions, however, they have not defeated a Major League Soccer-based clubs.

At the tournament, May will have the option of his first-choice starters, a group that is filled with international stars and impressive goal scorers.

Forwards

The forward position is perhaps May’s deepest position. The forward group is highlighted by the team’s leading goal scorer Zavier Gozo. Gozo has been a frequent member of the U-15 United States Youth National Team, having most recently appeared in the Torneo delle Nazioni against Belgium and Slovenia. This season alone, Gozo has scored 16 goals for the Claret-and-Cobalt, including four since the beginning of May.

Gozo is joined by Axel Uriostegui who has recently gained the attention of the Mexico Youth System, having earned a spot in the U-15 Training Camp earlier this year. Uriostegui has scored 12 goals this season, half of which have come in the last two months.

Tony Ramirez, the team’s third-leading scorer has scored 11 goals this season, including a goal against Club Tijuana from Mexico in the Generation Adidas Cup.

Duel national Kevin Hernandez will be looking duplicate his performance at the Generation Adidas Cup when he was awarded the Goal of the Day honor for his side-volley against Spain’s Valencia CF. Hernandez scored eight goals this season, all of which took place between January and June, as he joined the RSL Academy as a second-semester addition.

Other forwards include Adriel Diaz Avalos and Armani Haro.

Midfielders

May’s starting midfield group often consists of Dominic Berrios, Max Lora and Luca Moisa. The trio helped the U-15 team make it all the way to the Quarterfinals in the Generation Adidas Cup.

Lora finished the season with seven goals, while Moisa netted three of his own. Berrios’ talent at the holding midfield position has earned him training time with the Real Monarchs in MLS Next Pro, while also receiving invitations to Mexico Youth National Team training camps. Berrios recently netted a brace against FC Dallas at the MLS NEXT Flex tournament.

Other midfielders include Gilberto Garcia and Josue Reyes.

Defenders

The defender group is led by Luis Rivera who made history early this year as the youngest player to appear in an MLS NEXT Pro game with Real Monarchs. Rivera has played in three matches for the Monarchs, two of them starts. Additionally, Rivera was also part of the U-15 group that competed in the Torneo delle Nazioni against Belgium and Slovenia where he started in both matches for the Stars and Stripes.

Earlier this year, Rivera was also named to the Generation Adidas Cup Best XI.

Rivera is joined by fellow center backs Jahmani Stapelton, Alan Carmona and Jack McCallister.

May’s outside backs include Carlos Castrejon, Dylan Garcia and Jacob Miranda.

Goalkeepers

The final group includes Ty Rinker and Will Mackay. Rinker anchored the group that made it to the Quarterfinals of the GA Cup, playing in-between the pipes in every match for RSL, his performance at the tournament earned him and honorable mention on the Generation Adidas Cup Best XI.

McKay is a recent addition to the RSL Academy, a local product who has been training within the system for most of this semester. McKay has appeared as the backup goalkeeper for several Real Monarchs matches this season and started for several U-17 matches to finish out the season.