Real Salt Lake Academy product Aaron Herrera announced that he was leaving the University of New Mexico on Instagram late Wednesday, likely signaling his signing with RSL.
“I’m extremely thankful for my teammates, coaches, academic staff, friends, and all of the great Lobo soccer fans that make this program what it is,” Herrera, 20, wrote on Instagram. “But now it’s on to a new chapter.”
RSL is in need of a right back, with Tony Beltran expected to miss a majority of next season after undergoing two right knee surgeries.
Thanks to Homegrown Player rules, RSL would be able to sign Herrera now, as opposed to waiting to select him in the MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 19. Per MLS rules, a player that was in a club’s academy for at least one year and “has met the necessary training and retention requirements” may sign with that club without going through the MLS SuperDraft.
Herrera spent thee years in the RSL-Arizona Academy, starting at right back for the team’s run to the U-15/16 U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy finals in 2014. He was one of five RSL Academy products to join the U.S. U-20 national team for the World Cup this year.
Per club policy, Real Salt Lake declined to comment through a team spokesperson.
No Real Salt Lake players appeared on the list of players eligible for Stage 1 of the 2017 Re-Entry Draft, which MLS released Thursday.
In all, 59 players are available from 20 teams for Friday’s draft. FC Dallas and Toronto FC also don’t have any players on the list.
The MLS Re-Entry Draft takes place in two stages. The second will be next Thursday. Players who meet all the eligibility requirements can opt out of the draft before either stage. Otherwise, those who are not selected in Stage 1 will be available in Stage 2.
In Stage 1, teams must either make a bona fide offer to an out-of-contract player or pick up the contract option of a player whose team had declined his option. In Stage 2, a club can negotiate a new contract with the player it drafts.
The restrictions in Stage 1 of the re-entry draft often lead to few selections, with four being the high mark since the draft’s introduction in 2010. In the past two years, however, Stage 2 selections have also fallen off, with only six combined selections.
Real Salt Lake has used only one pick over seven re-entry drafts, selecting Lovel Palmer in Stage 2 of the 2012 draft. In the general manager Craig Waibel era, RSL has passed every year. This year, RSL is ninth in the draft order.