Park City native selected to U-20 national team | ParkRecord.com

Park City native selected to U-20 national team

Saucedo will also return to RSL at start of season

Local soccer player Sebastian Saucedo holds up the Copa MX trophy after his former team, Veracruz, won the tournament last season. Saucedo was recently named to the U-20 World Cup qualifying team and will return to Real Salt Lake in March.

Growing up in Park City, Sebastian Saucedo was surrounded by Olympic athletes. He remembers going to assemblies as a little kid at McPolin Elementary School, where top winter-sport athletes would come and speak to him and the rest of the kids.

Saucedo, who plays for local Major League Soccer club Real Salt Lake, now represents Team USA himself. Instead of in the snow, though, he's on the pitch. Earlier this month, he was named to the country's U-20 World Cup qualifying team, an honor given to just 20 players throughout the country.

"It’s a huge achievement and it’s an amazing feeling," Saucedo said. "As a kid, you dream of being a professional athlete. When you become a professional athlete, you want to be called into your national team and it’s a dream come true.

"Being able to represent the USA logo is an honor. I’m not just representing the state I was born in or the state I was raised in, but also a whole country you have to fight for."

Though he's talented, Saucedo realizes that he hasn't gotten to where he is without a little help. From his parents — who would sometimes miss work so Saucedo could make a training session — to various teammates and coaches that have guided him along the way, Saucedo is grateful for all of the support.

"Without my family I don’t think one of this would’ve been possible," he said.

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Saucedo worked his way through the ranks, which all started here in Park City. He was a member of the Park City Soccer Club as a youth, but quickly advanced to Real Salt Lake's and the U.S. soccer developmental teams as a teenager.

He had massive success at both. By the time he was 17 years old, he signed a professional contract with local team Real Salt Lake. In 2014, Saucedo played in nine matches for the club, including one start. He spent last year on loan for Veracruz in Mexico's Liga MX, where he won a Copa MX tournament and scored his first goal as a professional player.

"It was an amazing experience," he said. "[Playing for Veracruz] probably created one of the best memories of my soccer career so far."

Saucedo returned stateside just before the New Year rang in after his loan in Mexico was completed. He went back home to Park City to spend time with his family. He'll spend much more time with them once his season with RSL starts on March 4.

He also spent time with the U-20 national team this past month as it tries to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer. The qualifying tournament is taking place in San Jose, Costa Rica, and will most likely go right before the MLS season. Depending on how far Team USA makes it, Saucedo may even miss RSL's first game.

Saucedo has a busy few weeks ahead of him between practicing with the national team and trying to reestablish himself with RSL.

"What’s next for me is winning the qualifying for Team USA and being able to make it to the World Cup," Saucedo said. "Then, coming home and fighting for a starting position with Real Salt Lake and being able to compete for playing time."

"I’m always busy with Real Salt Lake. It’s my job and I’m trying to get better every day."