Last year, Real Salt Lake added yet another name to the list of players to emerge from the “Homegrown Factory.” On September 25, Andrew Brody signed a first team contract becoming the club’s 23rd to do so, but at 25-years-old the defender is by far the oldest.
Brody’s path to the top level of professional soccer is one that is reminiscent of the daily grind of everyday workers around the world.
As a high schooler, Brody was plucked from obscurity into the Real Salt Lake Academy by happenstance of being in the right place at the right time, getting the opportunity to try out and taking the bull by the horns, earning a spot in one of the nation’s top youth development clubs.
Although still in its earlier years, the Academy had already garnered a reputation of elevating its athletes to the professional level, something Brody too hoped to do. But at the end of his high school career he elected the collegiate pathway and signed to the University of Louisville.
With his time in Kentucky coming to a close, Brody signed with Real Monarchs, the United Soccer League Championship affiliate of Real Salt Lake. While not a direct path to the Major League Soccer level there was a history of players who had used the Monarchs as a steppingstone, a brief passthrough on their way to the top.
But three years passed, and Brody was still with the second division team while those around him, guys he had grown up playing with, were passing by.
“Being with the Monarchs was great because I got so many games, I was hungry and I could feel just how close I was,” Brody said. “But at some point, I saw guys my age and younger getting deals that I felt like I had earned. It’s extremely hard and taxing to spend years pursuing a goal only to miss out right at the finish.”
With lingering disappointment and mounting frustrating Brody faced the harsh reality that it may be time to hang up his cleats. Already the leader in games-played with the Monarchs he felt as if his time for advancement had passed. An opportunity to play in Austria in their third division had presented itself and on the cusp of giving it all up, Brody picked up and moved overseas.
Almost six thousand miles away with FC Pinzgau Saalfelden, Brody experienced freedom and for the first time in years was able to play away from the pressure of constantly proving himself.
“I needed to see the game in a new way,” Brody said. “I gained a sense of confidence, I played with a new sense of freedom, without any fear. Austria gave me a new love for the game, and I felt like my eyes were opened.”
After six months abroad he returned stateside with the Monarchs.
It didn’t take long for the coaching staff and the front office to see the clear change in Brody and thus began conversations of bringing him to the first team.
“That feeling is second to none,” Brody said. “I really thought it might not happen, that I had been lost in the shuffle, but those five years of hardship made that feeling even more special because I know what it took to get here.”
Now with his first season in MLS looming he realizes that the work has really only just begun, while it may have been a long road to get here it's an even longer one to cement himself in this league.
But if history is any indication the defender is up to the task, ready to prove all the skeptics wrong, and show that this both his own patience and that of the club was worth the wait. If anything, Brody has a lot of experience being the underdog, and he is nowhere close to being done.
“I still have plenty left to prove, I’m a guy with a chip on his shoulder and I’m ready.”