The crowning jewel of Real Salt Lake’s Youth Development endeavors is the Real Salt Lake – Arizona (RSL-AZ) Academy, the United States’ first – and currently only – soccer residency program affiliated with a Major League Soccer club. Based out of the state-of-the-art, $20 million Grande Sports World training facility in Casa Grande, Arizona, the goal of the RSL-AZ Academy is straightforward – to teach the next generation of potential Real Salt Lake players how to train and play “the RSL way” while providing them with a quality education both on and off the field. The RSL-AZ Academy hit the ground running in its inaugural year in 2010, when 24 players gathered in the desert to lift the burgeoning program to impressive heights right from the start.
After visiting the Grande Sports World complex during its 2010 preseason, Real Salt Lake developed a relationship with the facility that pushed past merely bolstering the Utah side’s three-year-old RSL-Arizona Under-17 team. As a result, the residency program that came to fruition with the Fall 2010 Academy class has all but revolutionized the way youth development is looked at in MLS circles. With an impressive coaching staff that is committed to teaching the core values of the Real Salt Lake system, and continuous access to perhaps the most outstanding soccer training facility in the country at Grande Sports World, the RSL-AZ Academy residency program leads the way in developing soccer talent in the United States.
Shortly after forming, the RSL-AZ Academy was designated as a member club of the US Soccer Development Academy, a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an everyday environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players. The Academy’s programming philosophy of increased training, less total games and more competitive games is based on U.S. Soccer’s Best Practices utilized by the U-17 U.S. National Team Residency program. The RSL-AZ Academy is one of now 78 clubs taking part in the elite development program and participates at the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups in the competitive Southern California Division – a 10-team group which also includes squads representing a pair of MLS rivals, Chivas USA and the L.A. Galaxy.
Between its contributions to Real Salt Lake’s SUM Cup successes, an undefeated record at the US Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase, an upcoming appearance in the prestigious 2011 Dallas Cup Super Group, and an overall impressive showing in its first season of league play, it is no wonder the Real Salt Lake – Arizona Academy has garnered such widespread notoriety in a short amount of time. Perhaps the best proof of the RSL-AZ Academy’s quality of training stems from its ranking as one of the top US Soccer Development Academy programs in NCAA scholarship offers for the 2011 NCAA season, with its graduates scheduled to continue their playing careers at some of the nation’s top programs from coast to coast.
For the 2011-2012 academic year, the Real Salt Lake – Arizona Academy plans on boosting its enrollment for full-time residential academy players, the evaluation process beginning with player identification and tryouts in April and continuing through July. Are you the next Real Salt Lake prospect? Learn more about the Real Salt Lake – Arizona Academy full-time residential program and Grande Sports World by visiting GrandeSportsAcademy.com or the “Youth Soccer” section of RealSaltLake.com.