The drafts in 2013 and 2014 ended up having diametrically opposite results. Two picks from 2013 ended up going on to become well-known names with RSL, while none of the players from 2014 made any appearances for the club beyond preseason.
Why was 2014 such a tough year for rookies in Salt Lake? It’s hard to say one reason specifically, but the obvious answer could be the changing of the guards from Jason Kreis to Jeff Cassar. This was also all in a pre-Monarchs era, so RSL didn’t have the luxury of sending their rookies to the USL side for training and development quite yet.
John Stertzer: First round, #12 overall
With their first pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, RSL chose a now-familiar face in John Stertzer, straight from the University of Maryland. In the four years he spent with the Maryland Terrapins, he notched an impressive 25 goals and 13 assists through 79 games.
The 22-year-old midfielder made his MLS debut on March 9 against DC United, and went on to make 48 total regular-season appearances over four years, including nine starts in both 2015 and 2016. He scored one goal in his RSL career that came on May 27, 2015 when New York City FC visited Rio Tinto Stadium.
Stertzer also made four appearances with the Real Monarchs between 2015 and 2016.
Where he is now: RSL declined Stertz’s option following the 2016 season and has yet to sign with any team. He was available in the Re-Entry Draft in December but went unselected. While a return to RSL for 2017 is still possible, it’s unlikely, and we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for John.
Other notable first-round picks: Andrew Farrell (New England), Kyle Bekker (Toronto), Erik Hurtado (Vancouver), Deshorn Brown (Colorado), Dillon Powers (Colorado)
Devon Sandoval: Second round, #29 overall
Another very familiar face to RSL fans, Devon Sandoval, was drafted in the second round out of the University of New Mexico.
The 6’1” forward — fittingly dubbed “Big Dev” — made his MLS debut on opening day of 2013, a rare occurrence for a rookie in Salt Lake to do. Albeit he only played three minutes, subbing on in the 87th minute, it still counted as an appearance and his career was off to a good start.
It only took him a couple months to get on the score sheet, as Dev put away his first goal against the New England Revolution on May 8, 2013. Sandoval went on to make 58 regular-season appearances for RSL over the next four years and score a total of seven goals with three assists, the majority of which came in 2015 with 30 appearances, 17 starts, four goals and two assists.
He also scored in the 2013 Western Conference Finals in RSL’s 4-2 home win against the Portland Timbers, which would be his only career post-season goal to date.
In July of 2016, Sandoval was loaned out to NASL side Rayo OKC for the remainder of the season to play alongside former RSL players Sebastian Velasquez, Rauwshan McKenzie, Pecka, Jarad van Schaik, and Robbie Findley. Struggling to find any consistently decent form, he scored one goal and two assists through 12 games played with the now-defunct 2nd-tier club.
Where he is now: With his contract up at RSL and no new deal signed as of yet, Big Dev is currently without a club. Much like Stertzer, a return to the claret-and-cobalt is still possible, but highly unlikely as both Jeff Cassar and Craig Waibel have commented on possibly signing a new backup target forward, which is where Sandoval spent his time.
2013 Supplemental Draft
RSL traded away both its first and second round picks to Philadelphia and Vancouver, respectively.
Brock Granger: Third round, #50 overall
If you don’t recognize this name, don’t feel bad — the midfielder from the University of Louisville was selected by Real Salt Lake, and although he spent the preseason with the club, he didn’t end up signing with them.
Instead, Granger signed a deal with USL side Dayton Dutch Lions, making 53 appearances and scoring three goals in the two following years.
Where he is now: Brock currently plays with Phoenix Rising FC, a USL team managed by the well-known former MLS coach Frank Yallop, where he’s made 38 appearances since 2015.
Max Wasserman: Fourth round, #69 overall
Another defender that didn’t pan out with RSL, Wasserman spent his college career at UConn, helping his team reach the NCAA Tournament four times, including back-to-back appearances in the quarter finals.
With his soccer career not working out, he was hired on as the Director of Soccer Operations at the University of Hartford in 2013.
Where he is now: As far as we can tell, he’s no longer on the staff at Hartford and currently resides in Portland, Oregon.
In 2014, MLS did away with the Supplemental Draft and expanded the SuperDraft to four rounds instead of two.
Ryan Neil: First round, #18 overall
A defender from the University of California, Neil spent the preseason with RSL but didn’t end up signing with the club. On March 7, 2014, it was announced that the San Jose Earthquakes had signed the 22-year-old rookie.
After tearing his ACL and making no appearances with San Jose, he signed with LA’s USL team, LA Galaxy II.
Where he is now: It’s hard to tell exactly when Neil ended his stint with Galaxy II, and even harder to tell if he’s still playing soccer in any capacity.
Other notable first-round picks: Andre Blake (Philadelphia), Steve Birnbaum (DC United), Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas)
Joey Dillon: Third round, #53 overall
After playing four years at Georgetown University, the defensive midfielder was drafted by Real Salt Lake in the third round in 2014, and subsequently signed with the club on March 1 after impressing during the preseason.
In a quick turn, RSL released Dillon and he signed with Arizona United of the USL, going on to make 46 appearances over the next two seasons.
Where he is now: Unable to find any information, it’s nearly impossible to tell where Joey is these days. It seems that Arizona United released him after the 2015 season, and we couldn’t find any information regarding his whereabouts in 2016.
Daniel Jackson: Fourth round, #70 overall
Jackson is a forward who spent two years at Cumberland University and two years at Coker College before being selected by Real Salt Lake in the SuperDraft.
A familiar story in 2014, he spent the preseason with the club but didn’t end up signing with RSL. Instead, he ended up signing with the NASL side Carolina RailHawks on March 12, 2014, where he spent one season, making 16 appearances and scoring two goals.
From there, he moved onto the Charlotte Independence of the USL, making 15 appearances and scoring four goals in the 2015 season.
Where he is now: Jackson signed with USL side Oklahoma City Energy FC in 2016, where he only made two appearances all season. According to Energy FC’s website, he hasn’t yet been re-signed for 2017, but he hasn’t departed the club either.