RSL loses Sebastian Saucedo to Pumas UNAM

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Saucedo (23) reacts after making contact with Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst (3) in MLS soccer action between Real Salt Lake and Atlanta United at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Friday, May 24, 2019. Saucedo is leaving RSL, signing with Mexican club Pumas UNAM in December 2019.

Another one of Real Salt Lake’s homegrown players is set to leave the team.

Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo signed with Mexican club Pumas UNAM, the Liga MX club announced Monday. Saucedo, who was out of contract with RSL after the 2019 season, confirmed to the move to The Salt Lake Tribune.

“I have to take another step in my career,” Saucedo said. “Pumas is a top five, historically, team, if not top three. So when we heard about this news, it was like, damn this is reality. This is huge for myself, for my family — for me in general to become a better athlete.”

Saucedo’s deal is for two and a half years. While he did not disclose an exact salary figure, he did say he would be paid “way more” than he was with RSL, where he was paid $123,000 in guaranteed salary in 2019.

RSL still holds Saucedo’s rights should he want to return to Major League Soccer, he said.

While he said earlier this month that he and his representation were weighing multiple offers, he said his priority was to stay with RSL due to his familial ties to the area. Saucedo is a Park City native.

“We had offers from RSL. We declined them,” Saucedo said Monday. “It’s not that I didn’t want to stay here. We would have loved to stay here. But they never matched what we wanted to get from them.”

Saucedo said there were also offers “here and there” from European clubs. But the money wasn’t right and it was “a little far from home,” he said.

Joining Pumas, Saucedo said, represented the whole package for him in terms of playing time, finances and the overall opportunity to further his career.

Last season with RSL, Saucedo started 13 of 26 games, scored two goals and added four assists in nearly 1,200 minutes — the most minutes of his RSL career.

The homegrown forward had recently been frustrated with this role on the team. He said with the 2020 Olympics coming up, this next year would be key for him to be in a situation where he could get playing time and put himself in the best position to make the Olympic roster.

Saucedo said he recently spoke with U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter, who told him that with the move to the Liga MX club, it would not make sense to invite him to the January camp because the season starts soon after the new year. Saucedo said the conversation was positive and he felt supported by Berhalter.

Saucedo joined RSL in 2015 and spent a total of four seasons with the club. He played 83 games, starting 29, and scored five goals in his stint with Salt Lake. He also contributed 11 assists.

Saucedo said his fondest memories with RSL are from his days in the academy and scoring his first professional goal.

“Those are memories I will not take away and they will always forever be in my heart,” Saucedo said. “I had incredible past years with my teammates, the coaching staffs that were there. I was very, very happy for the opportunity. I’m excited for a new chapter.”

RSL signs USL defender

The club announced Monday that it signed defender Alvin Jones ahead of the 2020 season. Jones played for the USL Championship’s OKC Energy in the 2019 season.

Jones also has experience on the international level with the Trinidad and Tobago national team.

“We’re happy to add a player of Alvin’s caliber to help make the team better," RSL coach Freddy Juarez said in a statement. "He’s good on the ball and has good attributes in the attacking third. He’s athletic. He’s strong. He’s a national team player and we hope that experience can make us a better team overall.”