SALT LAKE CITY - Last year at this time, Chad Sackett was the starting goalkeeper for the Utah Blitzz, a third division team playing in the United Soccer Leagues. Sackett has since joined the Real Salt Lake sales team, helping RSL to become one of the highest ticket selling teams in the league. He has personally sold over 1,000 season tickets - which is tops for a sales person through out all of MLS.
"(Chad) is so well known and so well liked in this community," said RSL general manager Steve Pastorino. "He's been able to open doors for us left and right."
Sackett has been involved with soccer his entire life - whether it be as a player, coach, or in business, he has always stayed close to the game. So it came as a no-brainer when Real Salt Lake set up shop in Utah that he join the organization. He has been happy to help out by selling season tickets to the local soccer organizations, but the desire to get out and play never faded for Sackett.
With developmental keeper Noah Palmer undergoing season-ending surgery on his shoulder this last week, Real had a void that they needed to be filled quickly. Initially, Clint Baumstark, who is employed by the league to facilitate teams that need a 'keeper temporarily, was brought in to train with the team. But, since Baumstark can be called out to any other team at any time, a more reliable solution was needed.
For now their search ended with one of their very own in the front office: top ticket salesman Chad Sackett.
"We lost Noah, who was on our developmental roster, and because of that we could have gone out and tried to get another (goalkeeper)," said head coach John Ellinger. "But, if we keep a spot open it gives us some flexibility.
"It made sense. Of the goalkeepers that we saw at the open tryouts (before the season began), (Chad) was by far the best one. So, we're just giving him his chance," Ellinger said.
Sackett, who will train with the team three days a week and be available for reserve matches and friendlies throughout the season, isn't your average office worker who dreams of playing at the highest level. He has the experience and ability to be successful on the field.
Born and raised in Utah, the Davis High School graduate went on to play for Westminster College, and then Brigham Young University before joining the Utah Blitzz in their first season. Sackett spent five years with the Blitzz, earning honors as the best D3 Pro League 'keeper in the country for the last two seasons. He also helped his team win a national title in their final year.
Being able to take his game to the next level and get on the field with RSL excites Sackett, to say the least.
"This has always been a life-long dream," said Sackett. "To be able to get into the mix with a Major League Soccer team, not just in the office but on the field, is a dream."
Even though he's now helping out in the net, don't think that RSL are going to let the league's top ticket salesman go. Sackett now has double duty, and is expected to continue his ticket-selling magic.
"The guy can play and sell, that's pretty multitalented," said Chris Keeney, RSL's senior director of sales. "That's never happened before."
It seems as though Sackett is pretty familiar at doing things that had never been done. Whether it's in the box or in the office, Sackett is committed to the success of Real Salt Lake. But for now the dream to play at the highest level is just that much closer.
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.