At first, Brooks Lennon wasn’t expecting to get a permanent deal from Real Salt Lake, after coming here on loan from Liverpool.
“When I came on loan it was just to get more playing time and experience MLS a little bit,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Lennon achieved that, and more on Wednesday. RSL announced that it has signed Lennon to a new contract, acquiring the RSL Academy product on a permanent basis from Liverpool. The team did not disclose the terms of the agreement.
“Salt Lake is a good place for me and in my development,” Lennon said, “and I’m really excited to sign a new deal.”
Lennon, 20, signed with Liverpool in 2015, after scoring 31 goals for the RSL Academy in Arizona the previous season. The Arizona native mostly played for the Reds’ U-23 team.
When Lennon returned to RSL, he rejoined former academy teammates Justen Glad, Danilo Acosta, Sebastian Saucedo and Jose Hernandez. That, Lennon told The Tribune in September, was one of the reasons he decided to join RSL in the first place.
The familiar faces helped smooth his transition. His experience last season, which was marked by a second-half rally that pulled the team from the bottom of the standings and put it in contention for a playoff spot, made Lennon want to stay.
“Getting a lot of playing time last season and getting coached by Mike Petke, who I can learn a lot from, and also being in the locker room with guys like Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, all those guys last year helped me out so much. … I think I grew as a player last year so much,” Lennon said.
Lennon began the season as a starter, playing 90 minutes in eight straight matches from mid-march through the beginning of May. He was called up to the United States U-20 national team, where he scored six goals and tallied three assists in 11 starts.
Lennon’s call-up to the U-20 national team for the World Cup coincided with RSL’s signing of winger Jefferson Savarino, and when Lennon returned from South Korea, Savarino had claimed the starting spot.
From July on, Lennon became a regular sub, and he demonstrated his versatility by filling in at both winger and striker when injury or planned rest called for it. In August, Petke said he was trying to get Lennon playing time because he deserved it.
“How do you look at someone like Brooks and say, ‘Sorry dude, you’re not playing’?” Petke said. “But again, that wouldn’t happen if there weren’t guys in front that were really firing on all cylinders.”