Six Academy players use U.S. call to grow for RSL

Last week, six players from the Real Salt Lake Academy were named to the Youth National Team Summit Camp in Lakewood Ranch, Florida as part of the first-ever U.S. Soccer integration camp. RSL Academy members David OchoaTaylor BoothSebastian SotoRichard LedezmaGlademir Mendoza and Zachary Farnsworth were each called into 153 player pool by U.S. Youth Soccer Technical Director Tab Ramos to represent age groups across the U-16 to U-20 teams, affording another opportunity to grow as some of the country’s most prominent elite youth players.

Based on a foundation of youth development, RSL continues to cultivate talented players through the Academy to the point that they may one day step onto the field for the RSL first team and possibly contribute on a national stage. 

“What is being continuously experienced by our young players is they’re improving to the level where professional opportunities are arising,” Real Salt Lake General Manager Craig Waibel said. “It all translates to a much bigger view of what we’re doing. We’re a professional organization that develops players through our academy to play for our first team and it shows with these latest call-ups.”

Dreams of representing their country on the national stage continue for the five players called into the current winter camp continue and a sense of pride to represent the RSL badge nationally swept over the players when they received their call-up.

“I’m happy to see my teammates and my brothers representing RSL alongside me at the national team camp,” Ledezma said. “To have this many players from RSL going to this camp says a lot about our club and our academy.”

With current RSL players like Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera, Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Saucedo and Danilo Acosta having been staples in the youth ranks of the U.S. Soccer spectrum for several years – along with earning professional contracts with RSL – the pathway to potentially play professionally makes the opportunity tangible for the Academy players.

“Those guys are like role models for us,” Soto said. “They’ve been through what we’re going through now and they show us that playing professionally is possible.”

Added Ochoa, “We’re not ever worried whether or not an opportunity isn’t there.  RSL has shown that if you’re good enough, you’ll get an opportunity.”

Not long after the Academy players return from their time at the National Team camp, the RSL first team will begin preseason in Herriman, giving the Academy players an up-close look at what a professional training session entails and an opportunity to learn from the club’s best.

“To see Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman training up close will be amazing,” Ochoa said. “You see them on television and want to do what they do. It will be incredible to watch them up close and learn from them.”