Real Salt Lake has added some more center back depth to its first team.
The club on Thursday signed defender Zach Farnsworth to a homegrown contract guaranteed until 2024 with options for 2025 and 2026. He joins players like Aaron Herrera, Justen Glad, Andrew Brody and David Ochoa as someone who got his start on the academy level and eventually earned a Major League Soccer contract.
“I think this is just the best place for me to grow and I knew it from the minute I joined the academy,” Farnsworth told The Salt Lake Tribune. “I knew it from the minute I joined that I wanted to sign and become part of the first one day.”
Farnsworth — a Cedar Hills, Utah, native — played 11 games and started for the Real Monarchs in the pandemic-shortened 2020 USL Championship season while still technically being an academy player. He tallied 23 clearances, 16 interceptions and four blocks.
Academy players are allowed to play for the Monarchs without signing a pro contract.
RSL VS. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
At Rio Tinto Stadium
When • Friday, 8 p.m.
TV • KMYU
But Farnsworth hasn’t played in the 2021 season for the Real Monarchs or the academy. He injured his ankle in a preseason game with RSL, and said he expects to be out until October.
“I’m in the mindset where I’m preparing for next season and preparing to get back as soon as I can,” Farnsworth said.
RSL coach Freddy Juarez said Farnsworth has agility and is good with the ball at his feet and at one-on-one duals. But what he really likes about the soon-to-be-19-year-old is a quality that is unique among center backs.
“I think one of the main things that we like is [he’s] a natural lefty,” coach Freddy Juarez told The Tribune. “Those are hard to find, man — a natural lefty center back. We’ve been trying for a while and it’s easier when it comes out of the academy.”
Juarez made clear that the club picked up Farnsworth for his potential and the type of player what he could be a few years down the line.
Farnsworth is in a walking boot and moving around on crutches right now, Juarez said. But when he’s healthy, the team won’t rush him.
“We’re not looking at him to come and be the next Justen Glad today,” Juarez said. “We’re wanting him to be the next Justen Glad two, three, four years from now. Now, if it comes sooner, awesome. We’ll take that.”
Farnsworth spent all of his high school years at the RSL Academy. He has also played with the under-17 Youth National Team.
Clemson University previously signed Farnsworth to its 2020-21 recruiting class after the center back committed to play there in October 2020.