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RSL Academy is in Arizona again after Serreno, Legacy partnership

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The move re-establishes RSL in one of their key territories.

Saguaro. Photo by FlowerPhotos/UIG via Getty Images

Real Salt Lake’s academy moved from Arizona to Herriman, Utah in 2017, and while we haven’t really started to see the long-term fruits of having our setup close by, it didn’t take long for the club to establish a presence in Arizona for a second time.

RSL’s partnership with Grande Sports Academy ended after that move, with FC Barcelona establishing a presence at the site.

The new partnership combines RSL with Serreno Soccer Club and Legacy Soccer Club, and a press release states that that will bring 7,000 youth into the newly combined Real Salt Lake Arizona system.

In addition to re-introducing Arizona to the RSL Academy system, this also opens up the first girls academy to the club, which has been a stated goal of RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen following the establishment of Utah Royals.

The RSL-Arizona academy will be headed by Mike Kraus, who worked under academy director Martin Vasquez. From the press release:

“The partnership to re-establish ‘RSL-AZ’ is yet another example of Mr. Hansen’s commitment to promote and invest in the youth development of soccer in our territory,” said RSL-AZ Academy Director Mike Kraus , a USSF A-licensed coach and a former MLS player with Kansas City who has worked with RSL and/or Martin Vasquez since 2012. “We have found a terrific partner in Sereno, a club with an unparalleled history in Arizona as well as an extremely qualified and ambitious staff of coaches. With Sereno, Legacy and our other collaborations, we are very excited to provide elite training, competition, and coaching with a professional pathway for the boys and girls of Arizona.”

RSL general manager Craig Waibel, from the release:

“Our continued investment in and commitment to providing development opportunities for the youth of Arizona is critical to the club’s success at every level,” said RSL General Manager Craig Waibel, noting the recent inclusion of RSL players and Arizona natives Justen Glad and Brooks Lennon to the senior U.S. National Team. “Utilizing the RSL infrastructure and vision, under the guidance of Mike Kraus and the accomplished Sereno staff, provides numerous opportunities for boys and girls across Arizona, not only to provide a professional pathway in the RSL pyramid, but more importantly to gain the benefits from teamwork, fitness, discipline and competition.”

It’s a substantial move for Real Salt Lake that puts them back in an underserved state. It will certainly be interesting to see how it all shakes out, but it’s exciting to know that we’ve had our eye on re-establishing the presence that landed us players like Brooks Lennon, Justen Glad, Jose Hernandez and many more.