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SANDY — Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy product Danilo Acosta became the 10th Homegrown signing in the history of the Salt Lake MLS club on Tuesday.
Acosta, who spent three seasons at the Casa Grande, Arizona, academy, spent the majority of his time at center back at the youth level, but also projects as a defensive midfielder going forward. RSL coach Jeff Cassar said the new addition gives the 18-year-old a chance to see some minutes as a young backup to team captain Kyle Beckerman.
"He's another versatile player that can play a little bit at center back and a little bit at defensive mid," Cassar said in a statement from the club. "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 was a key figure for the academy's U-18 squad that went 37-4-4 in 2014-15, outscoring opponents 176-38. He also featured in three matches on a trial basis for RSL's third-division affiliate Real Monarchs and played one game with the RSL Reserves in 2014.
RSL expects Acosta to join the full squad Jan. 22 at the start of preseason training. He already has experience playing with fellow Homegrown signings Jordan Allen, Lalo Fernandez, Justen Glad, Fito Ovalle and Sebastian Saucedo, as well as a number of academy signees currently playing with the Monarchs.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, who grew up in Sandy, earned U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy West Conference First XI honors this past season, one of three RSL academy players to receive the distinction.
"It's an honor. When I came to the Academy, my dream was to play with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium," Acosta said in a statement. "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."
RSL opens the season in CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal play Feb. 24 at Mexico's UANL Tigres.