We know the United States won’t be playing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and that’s not exactly fun news. But what it does provide is an opportunity for us to look inward — and not at ourselves personally, but at our club, Real Salt Lake, and wonder what we’ll be doing in 2022.
Hopefully we’re in a World Cup spot without any controversy, and with any luck, there will be some Real Salt Lake players involved for the U.S.. Who might they be, though? It’s always hard to tell the future without a time machine, but here are some things we can start rooting for.
1. Justen Glad (25 at 2022 WC)
There’s no doubt about Glad’s potential presence in my mind. He’s come incredibly far in the last two years, and he’s shown great growth over the last year. You no longer look at his play and see a kid being given minutes — he’s a first-team player who deserves his position. If he continues on his trajectory, he should be at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Is he better than some of his peers in his age group, like Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers or Erik Palmer-Brown? Maybe not, but in one season, he’s played more minutes than Palmer-Brown has in his MLS career. At 20, he’s ahead of where Miazga was. The thing he hasn’t got in comparison? A contract in Europe. Does he need one? I don’t think so. I’m biased.
2. Danilo Acosta (23)
The multi-talented defensive player has been nothing short of excellent for Real Salt Lake in huge swathes of his playing time, and he deserves an opportunity to translate that to the international stage. As the U.S. goes through a substantial rebuilding phase — or should, at least, do so — a player like Acosta deserves a chance to show that he can play at the international level.
3. Brooks Lennon (24)
It’s very interesting to me that Lennon isn’t higher up on this list, but in 2017, we’ve seen he still has some way to go in his development. He’s also shown he can be a truly excellent winger at times, and if his club situation is sorted out and he plays regular minutes in the next two years, I think he has an excellent opportunity in front of him.
4. Sebastian Saucedo (25)
While he hasn’t been the most impactful young Real Salt Lake player, Bofo Saucedo still has many years in front of him. He’s still only 20, and he has shown he has the requisite skills to make it at this team. The big question isn’t if he can make it, but if he will — and sure, that’s a question a lot of players face. If he manages to improve his trajectory somewhat, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him integrated into the full national team by 2020.
5. Taylor Booth (22, RSL Academy)
Alright, so this is clearly a pick more about trajectory and having a bit of fun than it is anything proven. Let’s just lay that particular card on the table.
Taylor Booth, 17, is from Eden, Utah. He has been playing this week in the U-17 FIFA World Cup. In five years, he’ll be 22. It’s a massive stretch that he’ll make the World Cup roster, but you know what? Maybe he will. Why don’t you turn on the U-17 World Cup and find out? It’s on FS2 and NBC Universo at 10:30 a.m., so options do exist.
At any rate, Booth has been a steady midfield presence for the U.S. at the youth level, and I’d love to see him at Real Salt Lake in the next two or three years.