When Lalo Fernandez left Real Salt Lake late in the 2017 season, there was no doubt about who should be the one to take his place: Connor Sparrow.
Sparrow, then 22, was a natural choice. He’d been performing at a high level for Real Monarchs consistently, and he was a central part of what had been going well for them. His ability to make stunning saves, whether in the run of play or from a penalty, kept things competitive with great consistency.
But in the summer of 2018, Connor Sparrow suffered a knee injury that cost him a first-team opportunity. That opportunity fell to Andrew Putna, who joined as RSL’s fourth rostered goalkeeper when Sparrow fell to injury.
Sparrow did recover in 2018, but the opportunity, by that point, was gone. He played primarily for Real Monarchs, with time coming from September forward when he recovered from injury.
The question remaining, of course, is about how much potential Sparrow still has. Can he lift himself to being an MLS-level goalkeeper? Certainly the training he picked up here will be much to his benefit. He — and we, in a sense — should feel buoyed by the fact that he’s still younger than Tim Melia during his last season with RSL, and now Melia has transformed himself into a best-in-MLS caliber player.
Sparrow has everything in front of him, should he desire it. He showed us the right stuff, and somebody will recognize that.
Of course, if that doesn’t work out, he could use his college degree. He studied to be a nurse — read this great Tribune profile about him — and at least at the time, still logged hospital hours to maintain his nursing license. He’d also probably make more than he would in MLS, and he’d do considerably more social good.
And that’s really the great thing about Connor Sparrow. He was a good goalkeeper with Real Monarchs, and he could have been a great one with us. For all I know, he could still be that. But if he’s not, the 24-year-old will go on to do great things off the field, and that’s pretty cool.