Benji Lopez, a young forward at Real Salt Lake, could be set to join a less-than-positive list of players at the club: homegrown players who left before they played first-team minutes. An option on his contract to continue at the club has been declined.
It remains to be seen if he could catch on at Real Monarchs, but with offers having been made to play overseas, maybe it wouldn't be strange to see him depart for a European team. He previously had a trial at Panathanaikos in Greece, but it's hard to say if that's still an option.
Donny Toia, a forward who can play at left back and most recently played at Chivas USA and was picked up by New England Revolution in the Dispersal Draft last month, never played first-team minutes for Real Salt Lake in his sole year at the club, 2011. Nico Muñiz, a midfielder, joined in 2012, but he, too, never played.
Benji Lopez, should his declined option indeed spell the end of his time at Real Salt Lake, would join those two. Lalo Fernandez, further, has yet to play first-team minutes, but as a remarkably third-string goalkeeper, that's very much par for the course.
On the flip side of that coin, though, are players like Carlos Salcedo, who gained first-team minutes early in his RSL career, and Jordan Allen, who looked set to earn consistent time before he was stuck needing a season-ending surgery. Justen Glad and Sebastian Saucedo both are likely to get minutes with Real Monarchs.
So what's the solution? Is the dropping-out of Lopez part of a more endemic problem? Is it about him more than it's about the group? It's difficult to say without being involved with the team, but it's clear that the answer is coming in 2015: Real Monarchs.
Having a natural step in our development of young players that doesn't necessitate thrusting young players into the fray without being tested, tried, or given the proper environment for success — it's essential. Real Monarchs will be a godsend for these young players. Justen Glad and Sebastian Saucedo will, next year, have better opportunities in the organization.