Real Salt Lake, for many years, has been one of the few teams in Major League Soccer to capitalize on its ability to carve out a space for its Homegrown Players to grow and succeed at every level. Last week they continued to prove that they are at the forefront of development in America with the signing of five new Homegrowns in Julio Benitez, Gavin Beavers, Axel Kei, Jaziel Orozco and Jude Wellings.
With 32 Homegrowns in the Club’s 18-year history, RSL have set the bar for what an academy can achieve, tying FC Dallas for the most Homegrown products in the league.
During the 2021 season RSL led the way in Homegrown minutes, totaling 11,304 minutes across the 34 games, anchored by Andrew Brody, Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera and David Ochoa.
And while the past has pointed to great success, the signings of five new Homegrown Players signifies an even higher level of possibility.
Three of this week’s signings come from the Club’s second team, Real Monarchs, which competes in the newly formed MLS NEXT Pro. Benitez, 16, spent last season as a midfielder for Real Monarchs. Meanwhile, Beavers, 17, made history as the youngest goalkeeper in USL Championship history when he debuted for Real Monarchs in June of 2021. Additionally, Orozco, 17, became an integral part of the Monarchs defensive core, leading the team in clearances, interceptions and blocks.
Kei and Wellings were part of the squad that brought the Club its first academy title in nearly a decade, capturing the MLS NEXT Cup Championship this past summer. Kei, 14, is the youngest signing in both RSL and MLS history, recipient of the 2021 MLS NEXT Cup Golden Boot and lead scorer in RSL Academy. Wellings, 15, was recently named MLS NEXT Fest Player of the Tournament, and a part of multiple United States U17 Men’s National Team rosters.
Since 2020 the Club has signed 11 Homegrown Players, and with the exception of Andrew Brody they are all under the age of 20. While their impact on the field at the MLS level has yet to be felt, the implications of what is building can be felt clearly.
Utilizing the duality of the RSL Academy and the Monarchs, Real Salt Lake is able to sign players at a young level while still allowing them to develop using the breadth of all of the organization’s resources.