RSL-AZ is extremely excited to share that its own Julio Benitez from RSL-AZ and the RSL Academy has signed a professional contract with the Real Monarchs ahead of the 2021 United Soccer League Championship season.
Benitez, a 2005 born in Mesa, joined RSL-AZ originally with the 2004 ECNL team before moving to the RSL-AZ Development Academy team and on to the RSL Academy in Utah. As a starting midfielder, Julio was a dominant force on the field, soon establishing himself as one of the best players in the league despite playing above his age group. During this time he was called to the United States U-15 National Team and participated in the U-15 UEFA Development Tournament in Poland, facing Poland, Russia, and Iceland.
Julio moved to Utah in 2019 to join the RSL Academy, where, according to Real Salt Lake Assistant General Manager Tony Beltran, “Brought the admiration of all the staff who worked with him, for his footballing talents, natural leadership, and appetite for hard work.”
Despite his young age, Julio has an unparalleled drive and a strict discipline—here some facts about him, in his own words:
What is your first soccer memory?
My first soccer memory is playing soccer with my friends on the streets just outside my home. I was only 5 years old and I remember always having a ball at my feet. Our games weren’t very organized but we had fun. That’s where my passion for soccer began to grown and pretty soon I knew that soccer was what I wanted to do with my life.
What does soccer mean to you?
Playing soccer has shaped who I am today. I have learned so much on the field, from my coaches and my teammates. I learned to be a better player and a better friend. It’s important to perform in a game but it’s also important to inspire and motivate the players around you. Soccer, like life, is a team sport and we all need to work together so that we can each achieve our goals.
What’s your biggest drive and inspiration?
My biggest drive and inspiration is my family. I work hard to be a better player for them because I hope that my success will make them proud and bring them a better life.
What would you say to all the young soccer players out there to motivate their success?
Keep working out there, and work hard. Take every training session, every touch, every action seriously, and always be in “game mode”. Talent is important but hard work is what makes the difference. Your lucky break may be just around the corner.
Julio will move back to Utah later this month to start preseason training with the Monarchs and will be playing his first match during the weekend of May 8th.
“We are immensely proud of Julio and thrilled for him and his family. Julio is a perfect example of what we want for our kids in RSL AZ and it is fitting that he is the first player to play in the RSL-AZ academy, the RSL Academy in Utah, and now professionally. Julio is an extremely hard worker, trained well every day, and was a leader on and off the field. The signing of his first professional contract with RSL is just another step in his journey and we know he will continue to work hard as a member of RSL,” RSL-AZ Executive Director Brent Erwin said.
“We are extremely excited for Julio and his family. He has been a tremendous young professional ever since joining RSL-AZ and is a great example for our young players. His commitment level and work ethic are of the highest degree but its superlative character, instilled in him from his parents, that will guide him throughout his career and life,” RSL-AZ Academy Director Mike Kraus added.
Join us in congratulating Julio for this tremendous achievement and wishing him great success in his professional soccer career.