For several years, seeing the Real Salt Lake Academy players in action was a rare treat.
Every now and again, you could see them playing with Real Monarchs, and once in a great while, a stream popped up when they were involved in some tournament or another.
Now that the academy has made the transition from Casa Grande, Arizona, to Herriman, Utah, those chances should become far more regular, and Saturday is the first working example of that.
Both the Under 19s and Under 17s play at Rio Tinto Stadium tomorrow as they open their respective campaigns, with both teams facing Portland Timbers to kick things off.
The U-17s start things off with an 11 a.m. kickoff; the U-19s play at 1:30 p.m. — and Real Monarchs play at 7 p.m. against San Antonio, meaning there’s a full slate of soccer despite an international break for the first team. Attendance is free, and while it’s not mandatory, I’ll strongly suggest it.
The U-19s are led by Sebastian Soto, among others, and after a goal-shorn 2016-17 season the U-15/U-16s, it’s easy to see why. In 35 matches played, he scored ... 35 goals. Really, that’s remarkable stuff. Top Drawer Soccer rated him as the 13th best club soccer forward in the nation this summer, up from his previous spot at 27th.
Headlining for the U-17s would likely be Taylor Booth, a local midfielder that Top Drawer rates as the second-best in the nation at his age. He’s been a fixture for youth national teams, too. With the U-17 World Cup this year, don’t be surprised if this is one of the few chances you get to see Booth in 2017 — he’ll be flying all over the place, I’m sure. He’s definitely a focus for the U-17s. You should also pay attention to fellow midfielder Luis Arriaga, who has also been a fixture at youth national team levels.