Eleven-year-old Park City resident Charlie Retzer is getting set to embark on a unique journey.
A couple weeks after returning from England, where he trained with some of the world's top youth soccer academies, Retzer found out he was accepted into a prestigious academy on this side of the Atlantic.
The young striker will join Real Salt Lake's under-12 team, a new addition to the squad's own youth academy.
"I was pretty excited," Retzer said. "My dad was really excited to hear that we would be able to do this because it's a new opportunity and now that they have this academy program in America, it will be a good experience and a good opportunity just like England."
RSL is working on developing a system to help funnel top talent toward their pro team, Chris Retzer said.
"They're working on setting up a pyramid structure, similar to baseball with the minor leagues and things like that," he said. "They've got this team that will grow into the U14 academy, which feeds into their in-residence program that's basically for high schoolers."
Unlike the U14, U16 and U18 teams, which are based in Arizona, the new U12 squad will be stationed in Utah, though there will be a lot of traveling involved.
Charlie Retzer said he's excited for the new challenges the RSL academy will bring.
"When I played in Park City, I played up a year [in age]," he said. "I was playing against older kids. My teammates now are all my same age. It'll be a lot more traveling and a lot more soccer."
But, for someone with goals as lofty as Retzer's, the extra work is no problem.
"I want to go professional and I hope I can do that through this," he said. "This is a big step. Now they're going to know my name. I'll just keep training and, like my dad said, keep on taking steps up the pyramid."
He already knows what he wants to focus on this summer.
"Right now, this summer, my goals are to get better with my left foot and to keep juggling and get a higher juggling record," he said.
Then, before he knows it, the tournament schedule will pick up, taking him all across the country.
"My first practice was on Monday," he said. "The first week of July, we do our first tournament. This summer, we're also going to go to New York, L.A., San Diego and Las Vegas for tournaments."
With all that soccer in Retzer's future, avoiding burnout will be important. But his father isn't too concerned about that.
"I think I kind of went through that a few years ago where I was putting a little more pressure on him to do some other things," Chris Retzer said. "But it didn't really matter baseball, basketball he just didn't want to do anything else. Finally I just said alright, well if he really loves it, and he obviously does, that's fine then."
"You have to love the sport," Charlie added. "Doing this [youth academy] is going to be a really cool experience and it'll keep soccer fun. If you work hard at it, it also makes you a little more committed to it. And I just love soccer."
Working hard is what he'll keep doing as he tries to follow his dreams.
"It's all about hard work," he said. "If you work really hard, then you can almost accomplish anything. If you keep going for your goals, you can usually accomplish what you want to accomplish."
On July 4, Retzer will participate in an on-field introduction with the rest of the U12 squad at Rio Tinto Stadium when RSL hosts the New England Revolution.
"They were supposed to do it Saturday, but they changed it to July 4," he said. "We'll all be at the stadium and we'll all be introduced at the game. I can't wait it's going to be really cool."