A Few Ideas for Real Monarchs To Build a Truly Local Roster

March 6th, 2015 | by Shawn Blymiller
As the Monarchs look to build the future, will they look to local Utah talent?

As the Monarchs look to build the future, will they look to local Utah talent?

Back in November 2014, RSL made the claim that they have a lot of homegrown talent that they want to offer contracts for the club’s new USL Pro venture.

“What we’re planning on doing is having four-to-six spots for players on the MLS roster to come down and get games and train with us,” Real Monarchs president Rob Zarkos said in a Q&A in early December. “We’re also planning on signing or having a couple of the academy kids rotate in and out to get games. Then we are looking to sign 10-18 pure USL players. Some of those will be former academy players. Some will be former prospects that we didn’t sign at a certain point.”

Zarkos went on to explain that everything is dependent on the current CBA agreement that was successfully negotiated this week. Terms of the deal as it relates to the USL Pro league are still unclear.

The CBA is important to note because with a growing league finances and salaries are important parts of the equation. When Jason Kreis took over 3-year-old RSL in 2007, they were dispelling developmental contracts that were worth a whopping $12,000/year.

This mainly being used for players that were on the fringe of the reserve teams. On average, USL Pro contracts range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 a month. You have to be in the right period of your life for these paychecks to work for you. This is not the lavish lifestyle of the huge pay days in Europe.

We already know that the Real Monarchs will showcase the likes of Justen Glad, Sebastian Saucedo, Jordan Allen, Lalo Fernandez, Austin Najib and Phanuel Kavita. Many of these players have been showcased in the defunct MLS Reserve League for Real Salt Lake and select exhibition games.

Owner Del Loy Hansen has also made it a goal to sign homegrown talent. These players have had their first steps in the professional soccer world during Hansen’s reign.

Here is a list of college commitments & professional signings from the RSL-Arizona Academy. These players would need to be the players that we assume that will eventually sign professional contracts, whether that be in the USL Pro or with bigger named clubs.

Let us assume that the nearest to contracts would be the players from the U-18 National Team Pool: Aaron Hererra (RSL-AZ Academy; Las Cruces, N.M.), Diego Silva (RSL-AZ; Layton, Ut) and Evan Waldrep (RSL AZ; Peoria, AZ) . These guys have been with the academy in Arizona.

My biggest question is: Who are going to be the homegrown players that are yet undiscovered? I know that there are players that grew up in the state of Utah that can play. I have had the opportunity to watch some of these players in my broadcasts with both Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University over the past year; both programs offer a unique platform to young aspiring soccer players. BYU competes in the Premier Developmental League, the fourth division of U.S. Soccer and one step below USL Pro. And of course, the only NCAA Division I men’s soccer program in the state is at Utah Valley University.

These would be my top prospects for the Monarchs in 2015, if I were an a front-office position:

Will Bagrou (Mercer; Draper, UT) : No. 46 on Top Drawer Soccer’s Freshmen Top 100 list.

Bagrou finished the season with 29 points off 12 goals and five assists. The rookie led the Southern Conference in total goals and total points, and finished the season ranked No. 9 and No. 11 nationally, respectively. Bagrou also tallied five game-winning goals, leading the conference and ranking 12th in the country

Skyler Milne (MF; Utah Valley): He has size and agility that you would not believe. He is a 6’4 frame that has an uncanny ability to beat players on the dribble. Nobody wins battles in the air with him challenging.

Karson Payton (F; Utah Valley): Earned NSCAA All-West Region 3rd team honors. He is an attacking midfielder from Provo that has already grown up in the RSL academy system. He scored 5 goals and added 5 assists for the inaugural season at Utah Valley as the team captain. He shows a bit more maturity as he is already 22, married, and a father. He will turn 23 in February.

Matt Gay (F; Utah Valley): Earned NSCAA All-West Region second team honors with 7 goals and 4 assists. He has the speed and strength to play as an out-and-out striker or streaking down the wings. Watch his free kicks rocket at goal.

Alex Neff (D; Utah Valley: Named to the All-WAC first team. This kid loves to go into tackles. Sometimes I wonder if he should have been a middle linebacker or a free safety in the NFL — there is nothing he shies away from getting stuck in. I don’t remember ever seeing him lose a dual.

Lucas Cawley (MF; Utah Valley): Topdrawersoccer.com listed him No. 40 in their Top 100 Freshman of 2014, and another RSL academy product at UVU. Lucas was named the WAC offensive player of the week on a few occasions. Lucas rarely loses possession of the ball — and imagine if he was able to train with Kyle Beckerman or Javier Morales everyday.

Kip Critchlow (D/MF; BYU): This kid is probably the most humble soccer player around, and a true utility player. He can play as an outside back, holding midfielder, attacking midfielder or outside midfielder. He does not turn the ball over in midfield.

Winston Sorhaitz (MF; BYU): Led the Cougars with 7 goals and 1 assist in 2014. He is a speedy flank player with a lot of raw talent — and he is a work horse. He is a busy working bee that doesn’t stop defending.

Brian Hale (Alpine, Utah): Brian just graduated from BYU and was a 3 year starter. There are some highlights of him running in to fowards and not flinching. He is big and strong and moves well in his box. He might be just what the Monarchs are looking for in a backup to Lalo Fernandez.

A few other potential Monarchs signings with ties to the Wasatch Front include Garett Losee (Cal State Fullerton; Sandy, Utah), Carlos Lara (UNLV; Salt Lake City, UT), Connor Coletti (UNLV; Sandy, UT), Taylor Peay (Portland Timbers Academy; Sandy, Utah), Derek Boggs (Portland; Sandy, Utah), Camden Bronson Boyd (Portland; Midvale, Utah) Michael Nielsen (Portland; Sandy, Utah), Jacob Hustedt (formerly with San Jose Earthquakes; Sandy, Utah), Kyle Christensen (drafted by Chivas USA 35th overall in 2009; Layton, Utah) and Stephen Phillips (Whitman College NCAA D-3, played professionally in China).

Shawn Blymiller

Shawn Blymiller

I was a guest host on a weekly podcast called "The Jockularity Show" in preparation of the World Cup. It was there that Rick Aaron from Channel 4 News coined me a "Soccer Geek". I played 2 seasons in the Premier Developmental League, 1 year with BYU and 1 year with the Ogden Outlaws. I also played soccer in college and was named to the All-conference teams. Soccer is my passion, it is in my makeup and in my DNA. I am staying involved with the beautiful game as much as I possibly can. I have done the play by play and the color commentating for games in the PDL, and the Western Athletic Conference for UVU. Follow my posts about RSL, RSL Women, Real Monarchs, UVU Soccer, BYU Soccer, and just about everything else in the footballing world. #COYG Arsenal!
Shawn Blymiller


  1. someone who knows Utah youth Soccer says:

    Austin Najib? I’ve seen much better keepers from Utah that are younger then him? Knowing who he is and having helped trained him, luckily for him, his parents are rich and were able to pay for everything. By the way, why would Taylor Peay play for Monarchs when he already has a contract with Portland?

    • Shawn Blymiller says:

      You raise some very good questions and seem to be educated on the subject. I’ll address both questions separately. Taylor Peay would be considered a homegrown talent and would not count towards the overall salary cap. There are a few different reasons as to why a move to Salt Lake could benefit him. Play in front of family and friends and develop. I never said it was a for sure thing. Austin Najib is a talented goalkeeper. He was part of the RSL academy and he was the backup for a few of the Reserve matches last summer. I only said he was part of the conversation. If you have other young talent that should have been included, drop their names. I don’t know everyone 🙂

  2. Robert says:

    Thank you for your great analysis on the local talent. Will Bagrou is definitely a prospect to look out for. Does RSL have him on the radar. The kid is 6’1 with speed. He can flat out play

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