FC Tucson’s Herrera signs for Real Salt Lake
Solid defender was starter for both Los Tucsonenses and U.S. U-20 Squad
The bad news is that you won’t see Aaron Herrera on the back line for FC Tucson this coming season. The good news is you’ll see him play in Major League Soccer.
Real Salt Lake announced Friday that they are signing the 20-year-old Las Cruces, N.M., native to a contract under the league’s Home Grown Player rules. Herrera trained for three years at RSL’s academy in Casa Grande.
Herrera played for FC Tucson in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, usually at right back.
“He’s very athletic. He can play right back or center back, but also gets forward very well,” said Jon Pearlman, FC Tucson coach. “He’s very coachable and has the qualities a pro team is looking for.”
That ability to go forward came through in his time playing for the New Mexico Lobos. He scored 5 goals in 17 starts in 2017 and also recorded 5 assists.
His time at FC Tucson in the 2017 season was cut short after being called in to play in the Under-20 World Cup. He started all three group matches for the United States, playing alongside fellow RSL academy graduates Sebastian Saucedo and Justen Glad. The U.S. fell to eventual finalists Venezuela in the quarterfinals.
Herrera is expected to suit up at his old soccer ground, Kino Stadium, when RSL participates in the preseason Mobile Mini Sun Cup this February. Details on schedule are forthcoming.
Of all MLS teams, RSL is the one that has the most connections to Tucson. From 2007 until this summer, RSL’s main soccer academy was in Casa Grande. This put Arizona in RSL’s “territory” when it came to MLS’s roster rules.
In addition to Herrera, former RSL players Donny Toia and Ricardo Velazco came through both FC Tucson and the RSL academy. Tucsonan Justen Glad, a defender who will be on the back line with Herrera, helped the RSL academy to a U.S. Development Academy Championship in 2013.
Two more academy grads on the current RSL roster, midfielder Jose Hernandez and forward Brooks Lennon, are from the Phoenix area.
This summer, the academy’s operations moved up to a new facility in Herriman, Utah. Grande Sports World, the owners of the facility in Casa Grande, now house academies for U.S. Soccer as well as Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona.
Ted Prezelski writes about all things soccer, fútbol and piłka nożna for TucsonSentinel.com and at the blog How Flair is Punished (mindingthe.net).