With the launch of Real Monarch SLC last season, the Real Salt Lake organization embarked on a long-term project to help provide a link between the club’s standout Academy system in Arizona and the MLS club. The opportunity to cultivate players from both inside and outside of that development ladder has already begun to bear fruit for RSL after just one season after Real Salt Lake signed former Monarchs forward Emery Welshman.
After already having historical milestones for the club – the first match in a scoreless draw March 22 on the road against the LA Galaxy II, the first goal by Coco Navarro in a 3-1 road loss against Portland Timbers 2 on March 29 and the first home match on April 8 when Justen Glad scored the first home goal in a 1-1 draw with Portland. Now, another has been realized with the signing of Welshman and the 24-year-old forward is as thrilled as anyone to have climbed that ladder.
“It’s a very proud moment. We worked really hard this last year with the Monarchs. We went through quite a bit of ups and downs, but I learned a lot as a player and as a person. That will help me transition as a first-team player,” Welshman said. “I’m very proud to say that I’m the first Monarch to make the jump and I’m positive I won’t be the last. There’s a lot of talent on that team.”
Welshman came to the Monarchs through a circuitous route. A first-round pick of Toronto FC in 2013 after a successful collegiate career at Siena and Oregon State, he made just one MLS appearance during his rookie season and was not retained in 2014. Left questioning his career path, he stayed home in Ontario and played for the Canadian third division’s Sigma FC. There he rekindled his love for the game and found himself rejuvenated when he was invited to Real Salt Lake training camp prior to the 2015 season. He impressed there, but would see his best opportunity for development in playing for the USL’s Monarchs in the club’s inaugural season.
“It was a humbling experience to go from being a professional to playing for free again, so to speak,” Welshman said. “I feel like everything happens for a reason and it was the necessary time for me to build my character.”
It took him a while to re-adjust to the professional life, but he did so with the words of former Toronto FC teammate Danny Koevermans in his mind. The Dutch striker took Welshman under his wing with TFC and told him to remember “You can only control what you can control.” Those words were important in his growth, but also echoed in his mind because Koevermans took the time to work with an unknown rookie.
He approached his opportunity with RSL and the Monarchs with a newfound vigor. After a bumpy start that saw him miss games due to injury and time with the Guyana National Team, where he scored a goal in his international debut on February 1, Welshman found his rhythm and confidence under Head Coach Freddy Juarez and with it came his form as he finished the season with six goals and two assists in 19 matches and helped the Monarchs to five consecutive wins to close out the season.
“Scoring my first goal was a huge boost for my confidence and we figured it all out by the end of the season,” Welshman said.
Now, with new life breathed into his soccer career, Welshman starts the next step with Real Salt Lake.