On June 4, 2011, Julian Vazquez waited with his teammates inside the players tunnel at Rio Tinto Stadium waiting to escort Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps onto the field prior to the match. As the starters from both sides filed into the tunnel, Vazquez stood at the front of the line to see who he’d be walking out to the field with. In awe and amazement, RSL captain Kyle Beckerman took Julian’s hand and the two walked onto the Rio Tinto Stadium pitch together.
Seven years later, RSL receded into the locker room at halftime of its match with the Portland Timbers with the newest member of the club waiting in the same tunnel with his family, anxiously awaiting his announcement as the newest member to the club’s roster.
His name? Julian Vazquez.
Vazquez, 17, became the 16th Homegrown signing in club history and together with his mother, father and brother, reveled in the moment his dream of playing professional soccer became a reality as he was introduced at halftime on the pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium. Vazquez and the legendary RSL midfielder he once escorted onto the field seven years prior, were now officially teammates.
“It’s amazing to think that not that long ago I was watching these games as a little kid, now I’m going to be on the team,” Vazquez said. “This entire thing is just such an amazing experience for me and my family.”
A native of Nibley, Utah, Vazquez also became the first player signed having played at the Zions Bank Real Academy in Herriman, Utah, since the state-of-the-art facility’s inception in 2017.
The journey Vazquez took to reach the professional ranks was one that required great risk as he first moved to the Academy in Casa Grande, Arizona, displacing him from his family and his Utah roots. The leap however, became a turning point in his career to give him the ability to learn and grow in one of the elite academies in the country.
“To be able to do this for not only myself but for my family really means the world to me,” Vazquez explained. “I know my parents are proud of me and I’m proud to be able to do this for them. My family has always been supportive of me as I went to Arizona to be in the Academy and I know it’s been hard, but it’s all paying off now.”
So far this season for the RSL Academy U-19s, Vazquez has started and featured in five matches, scoring one goal. For the RSL U-17s last season, Vazquez played in 29 matches, making 25 starts while scoring 13 goals.
A prolific scorer in his own right, Vazquez realized his dream could become a reality throughout the past year as he started receiving call-ups to both the United States and Mexico Youth National Teams, as well as training with the professionals at RSL. As such a young player, Vazquez doesn’t shy away from the work ahead knowing that even though he’s put pen to paper with RSL, there is still so much left to be learned and work to be done.
“It is crazy to think that I’m a professional player and I’m not even 18 yet, but I’ve worked very hard for this moment,” Vazquez said. “Now I’m just ready to show what I’m made of and prove that I can hang and participate with this team.”