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2013 Player Profiles: Benji Lopez, 18, a long-term project for RSL

Matt Montgomery

Benji Lopez signed with Real Salt Lake in the middle of 2013 as a homegrown player. Coming off the back of a successful 2013 campaign with the Real Salt Lake - Arizona academy, Lopez was somebody the club had their eye on since at least the 2013 preseason.

Lopez remains a player marked by potential, but chances will not come quickly or easily for him. As a forward, he's behind Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley, Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia, and Devon Sandoval.

But the goal with Lopez has always been a long-term one: develop the 18-year-old into an MLS-quality striker, and that takes a lot of time. Whether it's a stretch goal or not is difficult to say at this stage of his career.

The young striker will be aiming for a strong 2014 preseason, but perhaps as importantly, he should focus on learning from his peers - and not just his positional peers. The club is stocked with veterans who will be vital in this effort. It's down to Lopez to make that happen.

He'll also want to continue his appearances with the US youth national teams, where he will surely be given a chance to play with more frequency.