Under the Arizona sun, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando encouraged RSL Academy player Jacob Jackson not to get ahead of himself, catch the first ball and hold it.
“My message to him is just focus on that first ball, and If you mess up, no problem,” Rimando said back in Utah on Sunday. “That second ball is going to be there in training, and the more and more you continue to train, the sharper you’re going to be.”
Jackson, nicknamed Oso for his size and fondness of sleep and food, was one of four U-19 Academy players that traveled to Tucson with the first team for RSL’s second preseason leg, and he trained with Real Salt Lake again Sunday. He soaked up all the advice he could get from RSL goalkeepers Rimando and Connor Sparrow, and Real Monarchs netminder Andrew Putna.
“Stuff like Sparrow teaching me how to organize, how to talk, be loud, vocal,” Jackson said, “and then Putna just telling me … stay hungry, keep working, keep wanting to get more, get all the reps you can and make everything perfect.”
Real Salt Lake went into the Tucson trip down a goalkeeper, which helped create the opportunity for Jackson to train with the first team. The Salt Lake Tribune reported two weeks ago that RSL had signed goalkeeper Alex Horwath, but his arrival was delayed by the birth of his child. Horwath was at training Sunday and is expected to travel with the team to Orlando.
Jackson eagerly joined the three more experienced goalkeepers.
“He’s someone that always had open eyes and open ears when he was training with us,” Rimando said, “and it was a breath of fresh air to see that there are kids that are like that and are going through our system.”
Jackson was hard on himself when he made mistakes, Rimando said, which the veteran goalkeeper took as a good sign. But he also encouraged Jackson to have a short memory.
Jackson joined the RSL Academy in the 2016-17 season, thanks to the encouragement from his older brother Alex Jackson, a minor league baseball player in the Seattle Mariners’ farm system.
“I was actually contemplating not coming,” Jacob Jackson said, “and he was like, ‘Just take it. … Go do it, go have fun.’ So I have him to thank for that.”
Jackson has started eight of his nine appearances this season and sports a 53.3 save percentage.
Real Salt Lake next travels to Orlando for the final leg of preseason. RSL will invite three Academy players to travel with the first team, Petke said, but that list had not been finalized by the end of Sunday’s training session. With the Monarchs in preseason as well, Petke decided not to take any players from the USL affiliate.
Jefferson Savarino rejoined RSL in training Sunday. The winger missed the Tucson trip after having his appendix removed on Jan. 26.
Fullback Taylor Peay has undergone a minor knee surgery. He sustained the injury in the scrimmage against the Academy on Jan. 29, Petke said. Petke did not release a timetable for his return.