Real Salt Lake added to its roster ahead of Saturday’s 2019 season opener in Houston.

And the club did so by promoting from within.

RSL signed Real Monarchs midfielder Justin Portillo. The 26-year-old from New Orleans was named the Monarchs team MVP in 2018 after appearing in 32 matches, 30 of which were starts. Portillo scored twice and has six assists last season with the Monarchs. He becomes the eighth player to make the move upward from the USL franchise to the first team.

“This is a dream come true,” Portillo said in a club release. “Ever since I was a little kid, watching the games on TV I wanted to be in the league. It’s an exciting time for me and my family. It’s something I think that I’m ready to challenge for. I can’t wait to keep going with the club.”

Portillo, who had 142 career appearances in the USL, was part of RSL’s preseason camp roster and impressed the staff and front office enough to earn a spot on the RSL roster.

“Justin has been impressive in his time with the Monarchs and has earned the opportunity to sign a first team contract,” general manager Craig Waibel said in the release. “It’s a great credit to his own talent and hard work and it’s great as an organization to be able to reward that commitment.”