Justen Glad had to be one of the happiest guys sitting on the bench in the drizzling rain at Saturday’s FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup tripleheader.
A month ago, he was doing the usual: working to become a professional soccer player at the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy in Casa Grande. Next thing he knows, he’s sitting next to the likes of Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales.
During the early days of its preseason training in Casa Grande, the club asked the former Catalina Foothills High standout join the first team for the rest of the preseason.
That month-long stint ended with Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Chivas USA in the event’s final tripleheader at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium. Glad didn’t get off the bench Saturday, but he did come on as a substitute in the 81st minute of RSL’s 3-1 win over FC Tucson on Wednesday.
Not bad for someone who just turned 17 on Friday.
“It’s been a great experience,” Glad said. “The practices have all been good. The level of play is always a lot higher, which is always fun to be around.”
In Saturday’s other matches, the New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids drew 2-2 before the Chicago Fire defeated the Chivas Guadalajara youth development team 2-0 before the 1,604 people who stuck it out on a windy and wet day and night.
Combine Glad’s call-up for preseason training with the fact that he’s already a part of the United States youth program — playing in last year’s Under 17 World Cup qualifying — and you have the makings of a future so bright that it could have lit up all the floodlights during the gloomy Saturday at North Stadium.
Even though he isn’t a pro yet, the defender acts like one, as he appears to be taking in stride that he trained with players who have competed all over the world.
“They’re all really nice guys,” said Glad, who was on the Star’s All-Star team as a freshman at Catalina Foothills two years ago. “They’re all very accepting. They’ ve helped me out since Day One.
“It’s been really good to be able to talk with them and connect with them.”
He’s also made a connection with first-year Real Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar.
“I see a bright future for a fantastic young man,” Cassar said. “He can play a few different positions on the field. That’s someone we’re going to keep our eye on and make sure that he’s progressing. All the coaches that are at the academy are doing an amazing job with him maturing as a young man and as a player.”
Glad knows he still has plenty to work on when he returns to the academy in Casa Grande.
“It’s all about speed of play and making up your mind for the next play or the next pass,” said Glad, who has verbally committed to Stanford.
And more than likely, that future includes very little bench time.
- In the tournament finale, C
- ago picked up the trophy thanks to goals on perfectly placed curling shots in each
- half. Ecuadoran
- Luis Anangono
- scored in the 15th minute, and
- Quincy Amarikwa
- the second in the 90th minute in a game that felt the effects of the wind and rain. N
- umerous times,
- balls set down for free kicks rolle
- d away before bein
- g struck, and one goal kick by Chivas goa
- Raul Gudino
- went only about 20 yards after bei
- ng caught up in the wind.
“It’s always nice to win,” Fire coach Frank Yallop said. “We should have put the game away in the first half. ... I was quite pleased with our four performances here — three wins and a loss.”
- In Saturday’s opening match,
- Alvaro Saborio
- tapped home a cross from
- Javier Morales
- in the 70th minute to pull Real Salt Lake even after Chivas USA’s
- Erick Torres
- scored in the 10th minute. Former local standout
- Donny Toia
- came on in the 74th minute for Chivas.
- In the second match, with the rain pelting down for most of the 90 minutes, New England took the lead twice, only to see Colorado answer back each time. Uruguayan striker
- Vicente Sanchez
- netted the
- second equalizer in the 82nd minute. Three minutes after that goal, New England’s
- Dimitry Imbongo
- and Colorado’s
- Marvin Chavez
- were shown red cards after a scuffle.