Parkite shines at Real Salt Lake Academy | ParkRecord.com

Parkite shines at Real Salt Lake Academy

Real Salt Lake’s soccer season is in full swing, with the team hosting a game on July 4 against Orlando City before traveling to Colorado to take on the Rapids on July 11.

Someday, 12-year-old Park City resident Charlie Retzer might be taking the field for RSL. But, for now, he’s scoring goals at an impressive rate in the team’s Youth Academy at the U12 level.

In his first full season with the program in 2014, Retzer scored a whopping 67 goals in 45 games. So far in 2015, he’s scored 23 goals in 29 games.

To put Retzer’s scoring prowess in perspective, the player with the second-most goals has scored nine times in 2015. In 2014, the second-highest goal total was 22.

But, to Retzer, scoring so many goals isn’t the result of his individual talent — he’s just doing his job.

"It’s not necessarily me as much as it’s my teammates who help me score," he said. "I’m the one on the field who’s supposed to score the goals because I’m the center striker. I’m expected to score more goals than the other players on the field, so you let your teammates set you up and then you have to finish the chances you get and create chances for your teammates, also."

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When he joined RSL’s Youth Academy last year, Retzer said he didn’t know what to expect. After all, he said, he’d rarely played with kids his age.

"I was kind of nervous," he said. "Before RSL, I’d always played on older teams. At tryouts, though, I felt like I fit in pretty well. I wasn’t too worried about not playing well, but I didn’t think I’d be as successful as I was."

At a tournament in California last year, Retzer said he realized he could hold his own against other top youth players.

"It was probably after our San Diego tournament where I scored like 10 goals in four games," he said. "My coach just played me all game, every game from then on out if it was an important game. Since then, I know I can compete at that high level if I just keep working hard."

Retzer said he is very thankful for the chance to play with the RSL Youth Academy to help grow his game.

"All the opportunities I’ve had here are pretty amazing," he said. "My coaches are great. To be able to play at such a high level with my teammates is pretty awesome."

Playing alongside his high-quality teammates motivates him the most.

"It makes me want to work really hard, knowing that if I want to go to the next level, there are so many kids that play soccer and I need to really work for it," he said. "Being able to go to Dallas for regionals and playing with the top-level teams in the country, it shows that I can play with them. As long as I keep practicing and playing at a high intensity, I can stay at that high level."

Retzer has noticed his game steadily improving. He said a few areas stand out most in his progression.

"My juggling has gotten a lot better over this year," he said. "Every practice, we juggle for like 10 minutes. I’ve also gotten a lot better with my left foot. Also, mentally, I’m making better decisions on the field — I think I’ve improved there the most."

Moving forward, Retzer said he wants to focus on making his teammates better. In 2014, he tied with Charlie Gray for the team lead in assists with 17. This year, he’s tied with Braxton Najib for second on the assist list with six. Cuauhtemoc Borjon leads the team with seven assists.

"I still have a lot to do with the mental part of my game," he said. "I want to keep making good decisions and learn what to do and when to do it. Also, I want to work on how to put my self in better places and making sure I’m putting my teammates in better places and making the best choices that will help my team out."

Retzer said he and his teammates have a busy summer schedule, highlighted by a couple important tournaments.

"We’ve got one in Minnesota coming up and then the San Diego Surf Cup coming up," he said. "Those two are both going to be really big tournaments."

To learn more about Retzer and the RSL Youth Development System, visit http://www.realsaltlake.com/youth .