Real Salt Lake continued their offseason makeover on Tuesday, signing academy product Danilo Acosta to the first team as a Homegrown Player.
While with the academy team, Acosta, 18, has lined up at center back and as a defensive midfielder, but it sounds like RSL plan to groom him for a role in the midfield.
"He's another versatile player that can play a little bit at center back and a little bit at defensive mid," Real Salt Lake head coach Jeff Cassar said in a club statement. "I think it's a wonderful opportunity for him to get himself as close to Kyle Beckerman as possible, watch and learn what he's doing before practice, during practice and after practice. That will give him some time to learn, adjust to the MLS game and hopefully contribute to the first team in the near future."
Acosta joined the RSL-Arizona Academy, based in Casa Grande, Arizona, in 2013, and has been an integral part of the program ever since. He helped Real Salt Lake reach the Generation adidas Cup and USSDA U-16 finals in 2014 and keyed the U-18 team's run to the final in 2015. For his efforts, he was named to the USSDA Western Conference Starting XI in 2015.
"When I came to the Academy, my dream was to play with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium," Acosta said. "I've been working hard and the coaches have been pushing me a lot these last three years, and now my dream has come true."
Acosta, a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, becomes the sixth academy product on RSL's current roster.
He has already seen the pro game up close, having played four matches for RSL's USL club, Real Monarchs, in 2015. He also made two appearances for the Real Salt Lake Reserves in 2014.
This signing comes in the wake of several significant departures, including central midfielder Luis Gil, who joined Liga MX side Queretaro, and center back Chris Schuler, who has not been re-signed or picked up since his contract ran out at the end of the 2015 season.