With an eye toward the future, Real Salt Lake turned to an Englishman with decades of youth soccer development experience to oversee its academy.
The club announced Wednesday that Tom Spall was hired as the club’s new Academy Director. RSL hopes to continue some valuable momentum in developing young players since academy product and RSL forward Corey Baird signed a homegrown contract in January 2018 and went on to be named the 2018 MLS Rookie of the Year.
“There’s a structure in place already,” Spall said in a statement. “I see my role as linking the foundation to the Academy in Arizona and the Academy here. It’s like a big puzzle and we’re trying to bring it all together.”
Spall said he has more than 30 years of experience in youth soccer development. He’s worked closely assessing talent and as a project manager for clubs in the English Premier League and Major League Soccer. His work with youth talent advisor Double pass, which assesses and advises football clubs and leagues on optimizing their talent development, lends a diverse knowledge of academies to his new position.
In a statement, Spall said his ideas for youth development coincide with the club’s. His recent coaching experience extends to the English Football League Championship as an academy coach with Barnsley FC from 2012-2013 and in the English Premier League with Sheffield United FC from 2010-2012. Spall was an assistant manager at Bottesford Town FC from 2010-2011 and served as the Head of Youth Development for Lincoln City FC from 2005-2010 and served in a similar role for Scunthorpe United from 2000-2005.
Real Salt Lake’s Academy displayed more promise when product and goalkeeper David Ochoa was announced as part of the 21-man roster for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland.
RSL Academy teams are also gearing up for the USSDA Playoffs beginning on Monday. The RSL U-19s will feature in Group H, along with Bethesda FC, Crossfire Premier and fellow MLS side Atlanta United FC. The RSL U-17s were drawn into Group E of this year’s playoffs, with FC Westchester New York, Real Colorado and Toronto FC. All playoff matches will be held at SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, California.