According to a tweet on Friday from Washington Post writer Steven Goff, RSL Academy product Taylor Booth seems to be headed to the Bundesliga soon.
Source this morning says Bayern is happening. Nothing official yet, though. Stay tuned ...— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) December 30, 2017
There are mixed feelings to be had here for sure. First off, in the name of full disclosure, I am a big FC Bayern supporter and have been since 1990. The very idea that a kid born and raised in Utah has talent that catches the eye of my second favorite men’s soccer team in the world is incredibly exciting.
That said, I’ve watched non-German youths go through their setup before, and haven’t been impressed with the results. The most recent American story is that of Julian Green, who showed some promise before Pep Guardiola arrived, and then never saw much opportunity to prove himself. He was loaned to Hamburger SV, then transferred to VfB Stuttgart while they were in the 2. Bundesliga last year. After earning promotion for this season, they have since loaned him to SpVgg Greuther Fürth where he has only featured in 9 matches so far with one goal scored.
One player does not make a completely convincing stack of evidence, but I’d feel better about a club like FC Schalke 04 or Borussia Dortmund, who have players like Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic earning significant minutes and developing against top-flight players. Maybe this time will be different. Maybe the leadership in München see something different about Booth, something they can mold and develop. For a big club like that, there seems to be little value in wasting time and money on a faint hope. If he does end up going, the ideal situation is that they give him the chances he needs to prove himself in matches, and fight to play alongside the first team players. It’s hard to argue against the quality of the coaches, players, and facilities he would experience, but it has to be a positive environment to develop him properly.
On the other side of things, naturally I want him to stay with Real Salt Lake. Seeing a player come through at 16 years old who could be nearly ready to contribute to the first team success on a regular basis is the reason so much effort is being put into the academy system, and having Booth be a Utah native makes it that much better of a story. The limitations might come from the labor laws in the United States, though there may be some exceptions that could be made. Still, Booth might be too good for a Real Monarchs contract, and if he’s weighing options to maximize playing time and doesn’t feel like Mike Petke can give it to him, getting some development in the 2. Bundesliga might be a great option.
It’s also unclear whether he has the ability to get a work permit in Europe, though it’s hard to imagine that there are the infamous “sources” supporting the move if he didn’t have that end of it worked out. Ultimately I want him to play in the best environment to make him a player that can increase the strength and competitiveness of our national team, and I’d be beyond proud to be able to say a Utah-born, RSL trained player made it at Bayern. If he does leave for Germany, it needs to raise the awareness of U.S. Soccer that more needs to be done to offer our players a reason to stay and play in MLS. If he decides to lift his home team to new levels, we may get to watch something incredible develop in front of our own eyes for many years to come.