Real Salt Lake’s involvement in producing young, talented international players is something we’ve been talking about for some time, and it’s really coming to fruition now.
After all, five players with Real Salt Lake ties, four of which are on first-team MLS contracts, are with the United States U-20s right now. That’s significant. If you followed Real Salt Lake last year, you’ll know Justen Glad, and you might have heard a couple of the other names.
Justen Glad, center back
A 19-year-old center back who can keep up is hard enough to come by that Justen Glad already stands out. Most central defenders don’t peak until their late 20s, so if that’s anything to go on, Justen Glad’s someone to be excited about. He’s been involved with youth national teams since his early academy days, and he’s impressed the whole way up. He’s entering his fourth (!) season with Real Salt Lake after signing with the club in 2014.
Expect a composed center back who reads the game well, but don’t expect too many charging runs and hard tackles.
Aaron Herrera, right back — University of New Mexico
We haven’t seen too much of Herrera, but we have here a talented full back who’s featured for youth national teams for a while. In January, MLS writer and analyst Matt Doyle mentioned that Herrera could end up signing with Real Salt Lake this season or next. Keep an eye on this one — there’s a lot to learn about him.
Danilo Acosta, defensive midfielder
One of the many multi-positional players to come from Real Salt Lake’s academy setup, Acosta is probably best known at the international level as a defensive midfielder. There’s some thought that he could be tried at full back this year, and he’s also rated as a center back — so let’s see where he plays for the United States.
Sebastian Saucedo, attacking midfielder
One of the most raw, creative players out of the academy system, Saucedo is a Utah kid — Park City, of all places. He’s also been a tremendous goalscorer, and an incredible player to watch when he’s on his game. He spent last season on loan at Veracruz in Liga MX, and while he didn’t play too frequently, it’s still a statement.
Interestingly, Saucedo has bounced back and forth between the American and Mexican national teams, but it looks like he settled on the U.S. side. That should bode well, because he could be an unreal talent.
Brooks Lennon, striker and winger
Alright, so we’ve talked about Brooks Lennon a lot. What’s that going to come to in this tournament? It’s hard to say right now, because we simply haven’t seen him play much recently. Outside of extensive Liverpool U-23 highlights, Lennon presents an unknown. That’s exciting, though! We have a player who’s impressed at a good level, and there’s certainly no shame in not being ready as an under-20 to make a Premier League team.
Look for a dynamic, exciting striker — because I think that’s what Lennon could be for the U.S. and for Real Salt Lake.