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2016 Player Profiles, #3: Justen Glad

Young center back Justen Glad surprised many in 2016.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

At some point in 2016 — probably around late April or early May, most fans let out the breath they had been holding regarding RSL's center-back situation. Going into 2016 there was much to be concerned about; Olave was our most experienced defender, but 2015 showed he was starting to slow down, and attempts to sign a new CB all fell through. That left the team with Maund and Glad as the two other contenders.

Olave and Maund would start the season, but Glad got his first chance after only 3 games when Olave received a Red Card vs Portland. Justen subbed on and helped RSL salvage the draw.

He started the next three games — first up at Kansas City where he scored his first MLS goal in a 2-1 away win, followed by two shutouts against Colorado and Vancouver. Next up RSL faced the potent attack of the LA Galaxy. Coaching staff opted to go with the veteran Olave against the difficult rival, and we know how that turned out: five goals conceded. Needless to say, from that point on Glad had the starting position for all but three games for the rest of the season.

When asked about Glad's amazing progress in an interview with Goal.com, RSL coach Jeff Cassar replied:

“He’s had four incredible years down at our academy where he’s played a lot of games, won championships, was introduced to the first team, either through reserve games or training with us in the summertime, and then he’s made the transition up to the first team."

That all adds up that he has the mentality of a professional even though he's still only 19. Justen will turn 20 just before the start of the next season.

To put it mildly, 2016 was breakout year for Justen Glad. He's attracted the attention of MLS by getting named #15 in the 24 Under 24, as well as a call-up for the MLS Homegrown Game. There was also rumors of a potential call-up to the January USMNT camp, but with the departure of Jurgen Klinsmann that may change the situation somewhat.

What will 2017 hold for the young defender? It's quite likely we'll see a combination of Glad / Maund / Schuler starting in rotation for next season; which means he should see quite a bit of playing time, and if he takes this off-season to bulk up a bit more he will be more of a physical threat to attackers who look to shoulder him off the ball. I expect him to score at least once, and he'll improve defensively under the veteran guidance of Schuler and Rimando.