In 2005, Real Salt Lake took part in their first-ever MLS SuperDraft, entering the league with fellow expansion newcomers Chivas USA. RSL won the first pick in the draft by way of a coin toss with Chivas.
Nik Besagno, 2005: Round one, #1 overall
RSL kicked off the draft by selecting midfielder Nikolas Besagno — a 16-year-old midfielder who had spent time with the US U-17 team under then-RSL coach John Ellinger. Besagno became the second-youngest player to ever be drafted, just behind 14-year-old Freddy Adu who was picked in 2004.
Besagno spent four seasons with RSL, playing a total of 439 minutes in eight appearances. In 2008, he was loaned to the USL side Seattle Sounders, and just five months later was released by Real Salt Lake.
Having been cut by the Sounders the following January, Besagno spent the next few years bouncing around between PDL clubs in Washington — from the Tacoma Tide to Kitsap Pumas where he helped win the PDL championship in 2011, and landing with the Washington Crossfire in 2012. He made 12 appearances and scored one goal with the Crossfire as he helped them reach their first-ever PDL playoffs.
Nik took over as head coach of the Crossfire in 2013, and hasn’t played for a professional club since his stint with RSL. Last anyone had heard, he was pursuing a degree from Seattle University, double-majoring in computer science and math.
Other notable first-round picks: Brad Guzan (Chivas), Chad Barrett (Chicago), Drew Moor (Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England)
Jamie Watson, 2005: Round two, #13 overall
Many fans will remember Texas-native midfielder Watson, who made 38 appearances and scored two goals in his three seasons with RSL.
RSL waived Watson following the 2007 season, and he went on to play for the PDL side Austin Aztex U23 where he scored seven goals in 13 games in 2008 while helping them reach their first-ever playoffs. Shortly after his stint in Austin, he was signed by FC Dallas, but only made one appearance.
After being waived by an MLS club for the second time, Watson signed with the Wilmington Hammerheads of USL-2 where he scored 12 goals in 16 games and earned himself multiple honors, including the 2009 league MVP award.
Watson signed with the USL-1 Austin Aztex in 2009 and stayed with the club through 2013, even through their move and rebranding to Orlando City SC in 2011. Through five seasons with the organization, he made 95 appearances and scored 33 goals before he was signed by Minnesota United FC in 2014.
With Minnesota beginning MLS play in 2017, Watson isn’t listed currently on their official roster, however Jamie himself alluded to a contract signing with a tweet on January 5th that would see him with his first MLS team since 2008 as he presumably makes the move up with the club from the NASL.
Jay Nolly, 2005: Round two, #22 overall
RSL drafted 23-year-old goalkeeper Jay Nolly after he spent his college years with Indiana University. He spent two seasons at RSL where he played backup to ‘keepers DJ Countess and Scott Garlick, making only seven appearances. After the 2006 season, he was sent to DC United in a trade that saw both Nick Rimando and Freddy Adu head to Salt Lake.
After spending one season with DC and making one appearance, he signed with USL side Vancouver Whitecaps in 2008 and helped them win the USL Championship later that year. He stayed with Vancouver even through their move to MLS, making a total of 97 appearances for the club through four seasons.
Ahead of the 2012 season, Nolly was traded to the Chicago Fire where he spent one year and didn’t see any playing time, after which Chicago declined his contract for 2013.
Nolly is now retired, lives in Utah, and as many fans already know, is currently an RSL commentator for ESPN 700.
Luke Kreamalmeyer, 2005: Round four, #37 overall
After giving up their third-round slot in a trade with Chicago, RSL used their final selection in 2005 to pick up midfielder Luke Kreamalmeyer (say that five times fast).
Luke spent one season with RSL, making six appearances and notching one assist. He was released after the 2005 season and signed with USL-1 side Portland Timbers, where he played two seasons and scored 10 goals in 54 appearances.
After the 2007 season, Kreamalmeyer stayed in USL-1 and played with the Rochester Rhinos in 2008 where he scored five goals in 34 games, and the Carolina RailHawks in 2009, scoring another five goals in 26 games played.
He spent a year in 2010 with AC St. Louis of the USSF D2 where he notched another five goals through 29 games. His last year of professional soccer saw him playing with the Montreal Impact of the NASL in 2011, where he played 20 games and tallied one goal. He was released by Montreal in October of 2011.
The last that we heard of him — as far as professional soccer goes — he was on trial with the New England Revolution before the 2012 season, but didn’t end up making the roster.
Mehdi Ballouchy, 2006: Round one, #2 overall
With their first pick in 2006, RSL selected 22-year-old midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy from Santa Clara University. Ballouchy has been a well-known name in MLS, as he’s played for several different teams over the years.
He spent two seasons with RSL where he made 46 appearances, scored two goals and notched two assists. In July 2007, he was dealt in the infamous trade to rivals Colorado Rapids which saw Kyle Beckerman make his move to Salt Lake. Ballouchy spent four seasons with the Rapids, playing 77 games while he tallied seven goals and 18 assists.
In September of 2010, Ballouchy was traded to the New York Red Bulls where he spent nearly two years, making 51 appearances and scoring four goals. In July of 2012 he was sent to the San Jose Earthquakes where he only made 11 appearances due to consecutive ACL injuries that kept him off the pitch for nearly two years collectively.
The Earthquakes didn’t renew his contract and Ballouchy was selected by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2013 Re-Entry Draft. He wouldn’t step onto the field until June of 2014 after he made a full recovery from his second injury.
Ballouchy spent the last two years of his career — one of them with former RSL boss Jason Kreis — with New York City FC after he was selected in the 2014 Expansion Draft. He recently announced his retirement in November of 2016.
Other notable first-round picks: Marvell Wynne (NY/NJ MetroStars), Yura Movsisyan (Kansas City), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Patrick Ianni (Houston), Kei Kamara (Columbus), Calen Carr (Chicago), Nathan Sturgis (Los Angeles)
Ryan Johnson, 2006: Round three, #26 overall
It’s easy to forget that MLS veteran Ryan Johnson started his pro career with RSL. It was short-lived, however, as he played seven games in Salt Lake before he was traded to the Chicago Fire. In Chicago, he played three more matches and was found out of contract, unable to agree to new terms.
Johnson is the first RSL draft pick to go overseas, signing a short-term contract with Osters in Sweden, which lasted only four months -- March through July 2007. He played 14 games and scored two goals for the club who decided not to renew his contract.
Johnson came back to MLS and signed with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2008 where he spent nearly four seasons, scoring 17 goals in 99 appearances. He was sent to Toronto FC in July of 2011 where he played until the end of the 2012 season, earning valuable time playing and scoring in the 2012 CONCACAF Champions League quarter finals, and was awarded MVP of the 2012 Canadian Championship.
Following the 2012 season, Johnson was sent to the Portland Timbers where he spent a full year, making 29 appearances and scoring nine goals in what would be his last MLS season to date. In 2014 he went to the Chinese team Henan Janye, where he scored four goals in 28 appearances overall.
2015 saw Johnson join new Korean team Seoul E-Land FC, where he also spent a year before he made his return to the US and joined the NASL club Rayo OKC, playing alongside former RSL men such as Rauwshan McKenzie, Sebastian Velasquez, Pecka, and Robbie Findley.
Ryan only made it through four matches with Rayo OKC before he was released from his contract in May of last year. It was reported just a week later that the 32-year-old was training with Portland’s Timbers 2 USL side while he prepared to head to Europe for trials.
Due to utilizing draft pick slots in previous trades, RSL didn’t have a second-round or fourth-round pick in 2006.