One of the most highly anticipated homegrown signings to join the Claret-and-Cobalt in 2015 was Sebastian "Bofo" Saucedo. After making an enviable mark on the RSL Academy, Saucedo put the pen to paper and signed with Real Salt Lake late last season. RSL brought Saucedo into the fold hoping he would continue his scoring prowess, scoring 50 goals across two years with the youth squads, Saucedo is one of the highest scoring players to come out of a U.S. academy.
The young midfielder got off to a rough start in his freshman year getting sent on the long walk to the locker room after only twelve minutes into his second appearance for the club. Admitting it was not exactly how he wanted his first professional minutes to go, Saucedo extended his left leg, exposing his cleats, and caught Vancouver Whitecaps' Mauro Rosales on the ankle.
"I can take the blame for getting a red card," Saucedo said after the match, "and obviously it led to their goal. It's something that I have to overcome. My teammates say to keep my head high. It's my first opportunity to play more than 20 minutes in the game. It just went by really quickly with the red card."
A mere four minutes after his ejection, the visiting Whitecaps recorded their first and only shot on target. An auspicious deflection off Luke Mullholland found the feet of an on rushing Russell Teibert. Lofting a perfectly placed cross just feet away from the penalty spot, Teibert found forward Darren Mattocks who nodded the ball home after managing to find his footing and get a two-footed jump over the RSL backline.
This unfortunate event, however, did not influence the 18 year-old for long as Jeff Cessar continued to call upon him to provide a spark off the bench.
Saucedo went on to make nine total appearances for the Claret-and-Cobalt, accumulating168 minutes. While the attack-minded player was not able to nab his first professional goal, he was not afraid to shoot, managing a 4.8 shots per 90 minutes average - one of the highest for the club.
He also found precious match day minutes with the Real Monarchs. When RSL could spare the talented youngster, Saucedo definitely became an impact player for the USL side. He appeared and started in seven matches and played 586 minutes. Like in the MLS, though, Saucedo was still unable to find the back of the net but provided two assists on the year.
Saucedo is not the player he was in the academy - simply put he is getting much better. So, he is not scoring 25 goals a season but he is no longer playing in an amateur league, he is a professional. The match minutes he has earned for both RSL and the Monarchs have improved immeasurably. His touches have improved, his ability to play the game within the game has grown, and he is still only 18 years-old.
In the clip, Saucedo found a huge pocket of space and nearly converted if not for the upright. This kid has potential and has earned the right to call Real Salt Lake home. Being that spark player is not something Saucedo has found consistency doing but he continues to show flashes of brilliance.
In 2016, Saucedo will need to become more of an impact player. He will not likely find himself starting many matches but he could definitely find himself being an ace in the hole for the coaching staff. If Saucedo is able to build chemistry with the team and improve his ability to read the professional game, the Claret-and-Cobalt could easily have one of the top 24 Under 24 players in the league. With a large overhaul looming for RSL, Saucedo might even find himself a spot as a rotational squad player.