Real Salt Lake’s homegrown revolution has been an exciting thing to watch. Today, it’s coming full circle.
After eight seasons away from the club, Donny Toia, RSL’s first-ever homegrown player, has been picked up by the club again through the first stage of the MLS Re-Entry Draft. Real Salt Lake must now either exercise Toia’s contract option, if there was one, or extend him a bona fide offer.
Toia, 26, played at Real Salt Lake’s academy and was initially signed by the club in 2011. Having started as a striker before transitioning to left back, he played no minutes. He left the club and played for FC Tucson and Phoenix FC in 2012 and 2013, respectively, before coming back into MLS with Chivas USA.
Toia later moved to Montreal Impact, where he played regular minutes, before being picked up in the Expansion Draft by Atlanta United FC, who traded him to Orlando City SC, where he was reunited with former RSL coach Jason Kreis.
RSL’s left back situation is an interesting one. Danilo Acosta seemed to be the answer there, but he has largely sat on the bench in 2018 under Mike Petke, with reports of indiscipline surfacing. Demar Phillips, who was largely injured in 2018, has left the club, though he was once RSL’s starting left back. Aaron Herrera, who is nominally a right back, played much of the season at left back.
It’s hard to imagine Toia not coming in to a starting role, given his MLS experience. He should prove a good attacking full back option for the club.