For a club that has historically grown its own stars and has established itself as a leader in youth development, Real Salt Lake quietly made some acquisitions during the offseason transfer window, most notably the recent addition of winger Anderson Julio. And with the start of preseason and the echoes of a fresh campaign these new faces finally get the chance to break into the fold and establish themselves in the midst of an Academy-driven squad.
As Head Coach Freddy Juarez blew the whistle on the fourth day of preseason and the team began warmups along the outer perimeter of the indoor fields the faces of Julio, along with Bret Halsey and Rubio Rubin mixed in with the squad, immersing themselves in the team. But who these fresh faces are and how they contribute to the team’s on field success will be determined in these next six weeks of preseason training.
Julio joined Real Salt Lake just this week as the latest addition to Juarez’s 2021 roster. The Ecuadorian-born winger has spent his entire career amid the mountainous terrain of Central and South America, where he has played in both his home country and Mexico.
The 24-year-old has already eclipsed 150 professional appearances, more than most on the RSL roster, all while racking up 27 goals and 26 assists. Additionally he won the Ecuadorian Serie A trophy in 2018 with LDU Quito, the team’s first in nearly a decade.
Like Julio, this season will mark the first in Major League Soccer for Rubin, who began his career as a teenager in Europe. His professional journey brought him around the globe to play in five different countries, most recently landing back in the United States. This past fall with his contract with Club Tijuana up the young forward elected to sign a short-term deal with San Diego Loyal SC in the USL Championship, scoring seven goals in just five matches.
Rubin has also seen time with the U.S. National Team, appearing in seven matches with the first team. Having played at nearly every youth level, Rubin truly burst onto the scene with the U-17 squad putting up big numbers and earning himself the title of 2012 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year.
Halsey, unlike Julio and Rubin, sits on the other end of the spectrum as an unproven young player who has yet to make his professional debut. The Generation adidas athlete has spent his entire career playing in his home state of Virginia. His performance on the field for the University of Virginia Cavaliers garnered him the seventh overall selection in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.
As the players head towards the center of the pitch to begin another training session it’s still unclear the role in which each of these new faces will play, that will be left in the hands of Juarez and his staff. But one thing is for sure, with each new day the newness fades away they begin to feel more and more like just another teammate on the Real Salt Lake squad.