The Park City Red Wolves have high ambitions
USL League 2 team currently leads the Mountain Division
The Park City Red Wolves have a tradition of playing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and celebrating after every win. They’ve had plenty to celebrate this year with seven wins out of 10 matches this year. The Red Wolves currently hold the top spot in the Mountain Division and hope to win the Western Conference.
“We all get together, hands up and down and celebrate, so it’s a good time,” left back Jace Vance said. “We’ve done it quite a bit. It’s awesome; we want to keep doing it.”
The Park City Red Wolves play in USL League Two, a semi-professional soccer league. The Red Wolves have played their home games at Judge Memorial Catholic High School this year in Salt Lake City. Park City has a pair of home games on July 15 and July 17.
“Season’s been great,” Park City head coach Scott Mackenzie said. “Obviously, sitting comfortably at the top, three points away from mathematically securing the conference. Team’s been great, culture’s been great. It’s been a big season for us.”
Mackenzie added that the team went into the year believing that the Red Wolves were a championship-caliber team. That approach has paid off this year.
“We want Park City Red Wolves to be known as one of the best League 2 teams in the country,” he said. “Right off the bat, everything we do, every training session’s geared up to being one of the best teams in the United States.”
In addition to trying to be one of the best teams in USL League Two, players are hoping to continue developing on the field. USL League Two teams tend to have plenty of college players looking to play in the summer while maintaining eligibility to play for their college teams. At the same time, they’re hoping to catch the attention of scouts. In this year’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft, 17 first-round picks had experience playing USL League Two, according to the league.
“We’ve got numerous guys who are going to declare for the draft next year,” Mackenzie said. “We talked to these guys about two things. Play for us, and we’ll put you in a position to win things, we’ll put you in a position to get better, we’ll put you in a position where you can be exposed to our first team and the widest spectrum of professional soccer.”
Among them are Vance and central midfielder Kurt
Lehmkuhl. Lehmkuhl is originally from Columbus, Ohio, but his parents moved to Park City a few years ago. Lehmkuhl plays for Cornell University’s men’s soccer team during the year.
“Every chance I can, I get off school, I come out here because it’s just one of the greatest places on earth,” Lehmkuhl said. “This summer, getting to play for a great team while being in a great spot, it’s the best of both worlds.”
Vance, meanwhile, currently plays for Westminster College and grew up in the valley. The Brighton High alumnus has enjoyed playing just down the road from his home field at Westminster.
“Decided I wanted to stay close to home for college and pursue my degree, but it’s awesome to continue to play in college and here with the USL boys and the Park City Red Wolves,” he said. “It’s incredible. It’s good to just stay on top of it and look to get better over the summer. That way, when we go back, all of us to our colleges, wherever that is, and we’re in better shape and we’re on top of things.”
The Red Wolves suffered their first loss of the season on June 30 to New Mexico United’s U-23 team, but it was how they responded that made it a pivotal moment in the season. Several hours away from home in New Mexico, the Red Wolves won a rematch two days later.
“We showed a really good reaction (in the second game) to come out and get the win there and stay clear of points at the top of the list, on top of the table,” Lehmkuhl said. “That’s what we want. We want to be top of the West, top of the Mountain Division, and we’re on our way there.”
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