Throughout the first 15 matches of the 2015 MLS season, Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jeff Cassar has used 23 different players. Five of those players were making their RSL debuts, including defender Justen Glad, who made his first career MLS start on Saturday in a 2-1 defeat to Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The 18-year-old product of the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy had to make some quick, on-field adjustments in his MLS debut after playing five matches with Real Monarchs in the USL.
“Obviously, everyone’s a little stronger, a little faster. You just have to play a little quicker. The nerves definitely came in the first half and they played a part, but in the second half, it was a lot easier,” Glad told media after the match. “It’s a tough transition but helpful to the USL side to have this experience. Obviously, there are things to work on. There’s always room for improvement. I’m alright with it.”
Already this season, Glad has played all across the backline, getting time a center back and left back with Real Monarchs in the USL, then Saturday playing at right back for RSL. Cassar knew that would be a challenge for the 18-year-old Glad, particularly against the speed and experience of Vancouver’s wide players.
“I thought he was very good,” Cassar said. “It’s not an easy task to deal with Whitecaps FC wingers. They’re technical, they have speed. I thought he did a great job.”
RSL midfielder and captain Kyle Beckerman shared in that assessment.
“Guys gained a lot of experience today. Hopefully that helps us in the long run,” he said. “Justen Glad played his first game, I think he did really well. There are a lot of positives to take away from the game.”
Glad is the third Homegrown player to appear for RSL this season, joining Jordan Allen and Sebastian Saucedo. With those young players all getting valuable time on the field, it can mean wonders for their progress as pros.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t win but I think as far as experience goes, I think it was a good game,” Glad said. “Coming from an experience standpoint, it’s a huge step.”