While he doesn't finish school at the residency program in Bradenton, Fla. until May, Nik Besagno was in Utah on Wednesday night to take the field with the Real Salt Lake reserves in a friendly against Brigham Young University in Provo.
The No. 1 overall pick in this year's SuperDraft, Besagno has been training with the team during the week and came in at the beginning of the second half of the match, in front of 1,000 rain-soaked fans.
Although Besagno is listed at 6 feet tall and 175 pounds, RSL coach John Ellinger said he has grown since those measurements were taken.
"He has grown a little and filled out more since last time I've seen him," said Ellinger.
And Besagno used every bit of that size in the 61st minute when he got his head on the ball to clear a corner out of a congested goalmouth.
"It helps me to have the physical advantage," Besagno said. "I may not have the experience, but it helps me win the one-on-one battles."
But Besagno is the first to admit that his size alone won't make him successful in MLS.
"It's an advantage, but playing with these guys is so much faster and more physical," Besagno said.
Despite the increased speed of play Besagno held his own, while fellow rookies Luke Kreamalmeyer and Cameron Knowles put the ball in the net for RSL's first two goals in the 3-1 win. RSL's final goal was added in the 83rd minute by Salt Lake native Adam Acosta, an unsigned player who has been training with RSL.
While he failed to tally his first goal with Real, Besagno did pick up his first booking as a professional when he received a yellow card in the game's final moments.
"It is good to have him so he can develop for a little bit and get in some reserve games and when the opportunity comes, step in and do the job for us," said Ellinger.
Ellinger said he expects Besagno to dress for Saturday's game against the Earthquakes before he heads back to Florida to finish school. Besagno will graduate in May and join Real full time for the summer months, before he rejoins the U.S. under-17 national team in preparation for the World Championship this fall.
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.