The Real Salt Lake Academy has given some of the nation’s premier talent to top universities around the country over the years, and 2018 is no different. This year, seven seniors have garnered a successful season during their U.S. Soccer Development Academy season, helping the U-19s to a 11-3-1 (34 points) record through the first 15 matches of the season. The seniors have caught the attention of universities across the country and have made their commitments to apply their trade while receiving top-class educations.
“This time of year is always really special for us,” RSL Academy Technical Director Martín Vasquez said. “In the past we’ve sent our guys to some of the best schools in the country and this year is no different. It’s an honor to congratulate these seven players in front of the group. We’re very proud of them."
Diran Bebekian and Sebastian Soto are currently participating in preseason with the RSL first team in Orlando, Florida and were unable to attend the celebration at the Zions Bank Real Academy in Herriman. Below are this year’s seniors from the RSL Academy and where each player plans to attend school beginning Fall 2018:
GK Jacob Jackson has signed a letter of intent to play at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Jackson recently spent the second leg of RSL preseason in Tucson, Arizona training with the first team. The San Diego, California native has featured in nine matches for the RSL Academy this season, starting eight games while earning three shutouts.
MF Diran Bebekian has committed to UC Santa Barbara for his first year of college soccer. The Palm Desert, California native has boasted a stellar senior season where he was called into the Armenian U-18 squad in November 2017. The second year RSL Academy midfielder has featured in 15 matches for the U-19 group, making eight starts and scoring three goals.
Pictured from left to right: Glademir Mendoza, Eric Virgen, Jacob Jackson, Sam Tojaga, Zahir Vasquez.
MF Sammy Tojaga has committed to play college soccer at the storied University of Akron program. Tojaga has featured in 14 matches for the U-19s this season, starting on 11 occasions.
The nation’s leading goal scorer, FW Sebastian Soto has committed to the University of California Berkeley. Soto currently sits atop the U.S.S.D.A. scoring charts having scored 24 goals in just 15 matches for the U-19s, having started and played all 15 matches for the club this year. Soto has recently spent time with the USYNT camp as well as the RSL first team at its preseason camp in Tucson, Arizona and is currently with the team in Orlando, Florida after graduating from the Zions Bank Real Academy a semester early.
MF Zahir Vasquez has committed to Utah Valley University, further extending his roots as a Utah native and following in the footsteps of his older brother, UVU men’s soccer original Giovanny Vasquez. The West Haven, Utah native has tallied six goals in eight starts for 15 appearances this season for the RSL Academy. Vasquez will join Wolverine head coach Greg Maas in the fall of 2018.
MF Eric Virgen has committed to the Lobos of the University of New Mexico ahead of the 2018 NCAA season. Virgen, a native of Tucson, Arizona, has featured in every match for the U-19s this season – starting all but one match for the Claret-and-Cobalt. Virgen has scored one goal this season. Virgen, like Jackson, recently spent the second leg of RSL preseason with the first team in Tucson.
Joining RSL teammate Eric Virgen at the University of New Mexico is MF Glademir Mendoza. Mendoza has featured in 14 matches for the RSL Academy this season, starting every match he has featured in. The Phoenix, Arizona native has scored five goals, having recently spent time with the US Youth National Teams in Florida under the guidance of U.S. Youth Technical Director Tab Ramos.