Posted on: Tuesday, November 6, 2018
HERRIMAN, UT - Tennessee Soccer Club 2003 Boys ECNL Player Forrest Wells spent a week in Utah training and playing games with Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake (RSL) Youth Academy. Wells was invited to guest play with RSL's U15 Development Academy team for the Western Conference Generation Adidas Cup Regionals held in Herriman, UT. Herriman is the new home for the RSL MLS team, USL team and Academy teams.
During his week in UT, Wells participated in multiple training sessions and played in three games with RSL. They faced Los Angeles FC, Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes in this first leg of the event. The second leg will take place in February at the Stub Hub Center in Los Angeles, CA, where the team will play LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders.
Below is a conversation we had with Forrest about his time with RSL Academy.
TSC: How did this opportunity to play and train with Real Salt Lake come about for you?
Forrest Wells (FW): I was actually never scouted directly by RSL and they never saw me play before I went to Utah. They heard about me through a combination of recommendations from various coaches who saw me at different events with ECNL (Elite Clubs National League), Region III ODP and US Soccer Training Centers.
TSC: Were you the only player from outside RSL asked to participate?
FW: No, half of the team was from out of town and the other half were from Utah. One other player from the Southeast was invited, a guy from Alabama that plays on the Region III ODP team with me. All of the others from out of town were from the West Coast.
TSC: What was the level of play like and how was it different from what you are used to?
FW: The training was very fast paced and high quality. Everyone wanted to make the roster for the games so the competition during training sessions was really intense. The other major difference was the training facility at RSL. They have multiple indoor fields along with outdoor fields that are incredible. You train alongside the older age group Academy players and the professional players.
The games had multiple US Soccer National Team scouts on the sidelines. When you are put in this environment it makes you play your heart out and hope for the best. The competition was very good but for me it was similar to playing with and against the 03 age group I am with at TSC. At RSL I was playing on age with the 04's so it wasn't quite as physical as our ECNL games. The technical ability of the players was very, very high. If the ball was lost in possession it wasn't unusual to go 10-15 passes before possession was gained back both for RSL and the teams we played.
TSC: What feedback did you receive from the coaches?
FW: All of the players are still waiting on feedback so I haven't had any discussions yet. Each player should hear back soon.
TSC: How do you feel like you played in that environment?
FW: The last game was my best game of the event. We beat San Jose Earthquakes and I had the winning assist to Zach Booth. Zach is the current U15 Boys National Team Captain and was my roommate for the week. I played the #10 role for the entire game and got the assist five minutes into the second half. I was able to beat two players and found Zach just outside the six yard box. I was really excited.
TSC: What was your favorite part of your week with RSL on the field?
FW: Getting to play with and against some o the best players in the country. There were six or seven national team players in our age group at the event and all of the kids were very talented. The professional environment was also really cool. Little things like having a fourth official, professional photographers, national team coaches and scouts on the sideline. We were given stats after every game with diagrams of passes lost and connected, tackles won and lost, and lots of other info that we reviewed with coaches along with game film.
TSC: ... and your favorite part off the field?
FW: The facility at RSL is amazing. I think I heard it was over $80MM to build. They have dorms for the players, their own school, cafeteria, weight room, indoor complex with multiple full-length fields, PlayStations, foosball tables and indoor soccer tennis courts. It is hard to describe unless you see it but its like Disney World for soccer players.
TSC: What is the next step with this involvement with RSL? Do you know if you'll participate in the second leg of the tournament?
FW: I hope to be invited back to California in February for the second leg but they are looking at all sorts of players. They took a group to Japan over the summer for a tournament, they played in the International Champions Cup in Florida and they have kids in for trials all the time. It is hard to say but either way it was a great experience.