Kyle Beckerman: Real Salt Lake's newest star Aaron Herrera is playing "national team level soccer"

Aaron Herrera - against SKC - MLS is Back

After Aaron Herrera broke through as a regular starter in 2019, Real Salt Lake rewarded the fullback with a long-term contract extension that runs through 2023.

By the time it's time to talk terms again, teammate Kyle Beckerman believes RSL could be negotiating with a defender who has World Cup experience.

"From game one on he’s playing national team level soccer," Beckerman said of Herrera, who is a probable starter again Monday night in an MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16 game against the San Jose Earthquakes (8:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada). "He’s powerful, skillful and I really feel he’s taken his game to the next level and I’m excited to see that and what the future holds for him. It’s great for us.”

Freddy Juarez, the man who has continued writing Herrera's name into the starting XI, also thinks the 23-year-old has a big future.

If there's a place for improvement, Juarez says it's becoming a more complete two-way threat.

“There’s a certain confidence in him,” Juarez said. “He needs to get a little bit better in the attacking part of the games, in the final third, which is the hardest part of the game without forgetting that you’re a defender first. … If he can be humble and stay hungry and remember that he needs a team to also have success because there are no good individuals without a team then he’s going to continue to grow. That’s always been my message to him.”

If that happens, Herrera should aim to be a prized commodity for much longer than the current World Cup cycle, Juarez said.

“It’s not good enough to have your first contract or second contract,” Juarez said. “You want to make a career out of it You’ve signed a 5th, 6th, 7th contract — that’s a career. … You can’t settle on what you’re doing now. You have to try to be the best. You have to take good examples around you and try to mimic that.”

SJ-RSL Round of 16 preview