Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Real Salt Lake: RSL drafts Cal midfielder Ryan Neil at No. 18
MLS » Neil is the team’s lone pick on the first day of the draft.
First Published Jan 16 2014 12:02 pm • Last Updated Mar 24 2014 11:34 pm

Ryan Neil had a feeling he’d hear his named called Thursday and had a pretty good feeling by which team.

Real Salt Lake chose the 22-year-old University of California-Berkeley player with the No. 18 pick in the first round of the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft on Thursday morning in Philadelphia. Neil, a four-year contributor with the Golden Bears, hit it off with the RSL technical staff during the interview process at the MLS Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., last weekend.

At a glance

Ryan Neil file

Position » Defender

Height » 6 foot 1

Weight » 165 pounds

Birthdate » Jan. 2, 1992

Hometown » Mission Viejo, Calif.

College » University of California-Berkeley

Drafted » 18th overall in the first round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

But it didn’t make the sitting on the couch or pacing around his home in Mission Viejo, Calif., any less anxious. But when MLS Commissioner Don Garber called his name, the weight of draft day slipped off Neil’s shoulders.

"[RSL] had a good plan for me and how I would fit into the franchise," Neil said. "As the draft went on today, I thought Real Salt Lake might even pick me."

They did.

Neil earned All-Pac-12 honors in 2012 and 2013 at Cal and started 20 games his senior year. Neil, an outside midfielder his whole life, is expected to utilize his speed and attacking ability to contend at right or left back for RSL.

"Every time I’m getting the ball, I’m willing to run at the defense of the other team and set up scoring opportunities for my teammates," Neil said. "I’ll bring good pace down the wings."

Neil is the first draft pick in the Jeff Cassar era. The former RSL assistant turned coach in December said Neil was very high on RSL’s draft board, adding the club was fortunate Neil still was available at 18. Cassar said the staff took 12 hours over the course of two days to interview every athlete at the Combine in Florida.

Neil stood out.

"Ryan just blew us away with his demeanor," Cassar said. "During the interview, we came to learn that he’s a winner and he’s a competitor."

story continues below
story continues below

But Neil knows the mountain he must climb in his first few weeks as a pro.

After attending his Cal men’s soccer banquet in Berkeley on Monday, he’ll trek to Salt Lake City for entrance physicals Jan. 24, a day before the club leaves for training camp in Arizona. The club already has 26 players signed to the roster, more than any other previous offseasons in franchise history. He’ll slot in behind staples Tony Beltran, Chris Wingert as well as Abdoulie Mansally and Rich Balchan.

"I know I have to go prove myself again," Neil said. "I’m starting at the bottom and have to earn the respect of the team, coaches and fans."

The former Cal Golden Bear is familiar with Utah. His older sister attended BYU and was a frequent RSL attendee. She always joked that if her baby brother decided to go pro, he’d be drafted by RSL. Now with the club he saw "have an unbelievable year" in 2013, the rookie must try to assert himself as yet another key member of the future.

"I’ve been to Salt Lake many times," Neil said, "and I love it."


Twitter: @chriskamrani

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.