SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake said Monday that they have signed their first-ever Home Grown player, Donny Toia. The 18-year-old Tucson, Ariz., native is expected to join the club later this week.
According to RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey, Toia is “really athletic, left-footed, fast, can jump – likely an attacking player.” However, he went on to explain, “He’s so young – as Luis [Gil] was when he started – we’ve got to see how he fits in with the group, and see where he projects over time.”
Although Toia is from Arizona, he is not a graduate of RSL’s Academy program located in Casa Grande, but did participate in the RSL youth program in Arizona for two years.
Toia graduated from Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson before moving on to Pima College last year. According to an article in the Arizona Daily Star last fall, Toia had turned down an earlier Home Grown contract offer and several opportunities at Division I college soccer, instead opting for the chance to get a year worth of college soccer under his belt in the comfort of his home town.
The move appears to have worked out in his favor, and in fact Lagerwey believes that there is no sense of urgency with the development of such a young player.
“I think it’s critical that we not put big expectations on players that are this young," he said. "These are players that are multiple years away from contributing to our team.”
In addition to the news on Toia, Real Salt Lake have released third-round pick Jarad vanSchaik. There has not been a decision made, however, in regard to trialist Conor Chinn, who is currently still in camp with the team.