SANDY, Utah--Third-year homegrown player Jordan Allen is starting to knock on the door when it comes to consistently breaking into Real Salt Lake’s starting XI. The team's currently got a talented attacking corp scoring goals--so Allen will need to break through without the help of injury or card accumulation as his next step in progressing from Development Academy Player of the Year.
He did start his fourth game of the season in this past Saturday’s 2-1 win over Houston, and provided a goal and an assist in his 90 minutes. He’ll need to keep that up to earn a regular starting spot.
“It’s competition,” said Real Salt Lake head coach Jeff Cassar. “You want to see consistency from the great performance that he had, consistency during the week and [consistency im] what he’s going to do to the game, whether he’s starting or coming off the bench.”
The 21-year-old filled in this season during games in which Javier Morales wasn’t able to suit up; this past weekend he started in place of forward Joao Plata. His contributions so far have helped RSL win four games when Morales wasn’t in the lineup, three more than they did last year without him.
Aside from his technical skill, and ability to play anywhere from outside back to forward, Allen is fast. He's often used his speed to get around defenders and open up space for him and his teammates--and he's applying the same pressure in his own career trajectory.
“Whether I’m in the XI or not, every day I’m trying to get better and trying to work,” he said. “That’s something that I don’t think will ever change. There are guys that don’t have their best season until they’re 28 or 29, so whether I’m starting or not right now, there’s no need to take my foot off the pedal.”
The question is--and he gets it plenty--is, what position is in Allen's future? Whether he’s the heir apparent to Morales or the next wide forward, he’s non-committal. “I’m an attacking player by nature,” he said. “So I’d rather play in an attacking role in any environment, and especially here.”
That’s good news for Real Salt Lake, who have watched Allen blossom in their academy in 2011 and 2012 before signing him after one year of college as the sixth Homegrown Player in their history. His work in the academy, the NCAA, and the youth national teams now has him in a position to keep pushing toward to that starting spot.
“It’s all up to him,” Cassar said, “But if he keeps progressing, he’s going to have a very, very bright future in this league, probably on the national team, I’d suspect. He’s still early; he needs to be consistent, and I know he will be.”