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Real Salt Lake Adds Three Players Via Short-Term "Extreme Hardship" Mechanism

October 13, 2023 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Real Salt Lake News Release

CARSON, Calif. - Real Salt Lake today signed two players - FW Zavier Gozo and MF Griffin Dillon, both Utah natives - and recalled another, FW Axel Kei - all three RSL Academy products who spent the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season with Real Monarchs - to Short-Term Major League Soccer contract agreements in advance of Saturday's road trip to face the LA Galaxy, per the MLS "Extreme Hardship" mechanism.

Gozo, Dillon and Kei are added to the RSL roster for Saturday's 8:30p MT kickoff against the Galaxy, as playoff-bound RSL - already guaranteed its first home playoff match since 2019 - seeks to secure a top-4 seed in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs, which begin with the Wed., Oct. 25 Wild Card matches pitting each Conference's 8/9 seeds.

RSL owns a "game in hand" over other top-4 West contenders with this weekend's rescheduled match, as it chases Seattle, LAFC, Houston and Vancouver heading into next weekend's "Decision Day" concurrent contests - where RSL again travels to Colorado - as the Claret-and-Cobalt also look to hold off pursuers Portland, San Jose and Dallas in the race for home-field advantage on the Western side of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoff bracket.

The Round One "Best of Three" series begin Saturday, October 28 and run through the November FIFA window, with single-elimination Conference Semifinals at the home of the higher seed resuming on Nov. 25. Each Conference Final will occur on the weekend of Dec. 1, with MLS Cup 2023 slated for Saturday, December 9.

All Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoff contests will be available via the Apple TV+ / MLS Season Pass streaming ecosystem. Check or for additional information.

With Saturday's trip to Dignity Health Sports Park occurring during the current FIFA international break - rescheduled from August 20 due to Hurricane Hilary's adverse weather affects on Southern California seven weeks ago - RSL is missing four players this weekend (FW Jefferson Savarino - Venezuela; MF Braian Ojeda - Paraguay; FW Rubio Rubin - Guatemala; and D/M Kevin Lambert - Jamaica).

RSL DF Justen Glad is suspended for this match due to a red card received last Saturday against Kansas City, Also unavailable this weekend due to injury are: FW Chicho Arango (hamstring), FW Danny Musovski (quadriceps), GK Gavin Beavers (groin), as well as long-term injured players DF Erik Holt (shoulder) and MF Pablo Ruiz (meniscus).

Clubs may add players to their roster in cases of "Extreme Hardship." Extreme Hardship exists when an MLS club has either fewer than 16 outfield players available or fewer than two goalkeepers available. A club may sign players, on loan, to Short-Term Agreements (up to four-day contracts) for MLS regular season games in cases of Extreme Hardship.

After the mid-September Roster Freeze, MLS Clubs are limited to one Short-Term Call-Up on a game day roster, except in cases of Extreme Hardship (as is the case here).

FW Zavier Gozo: A prolific goalscorer from the RSL Academy and the 2022 MLS NEXT Cup Golden Boot award winner, Gozo recently wrapped up his first season as a member of Real Monarchs, where he made 10 appearances as a young 16-year-old. Gozo scored his first professional goal on August 9 against San Jose Earthquakes, just weeks after Gozo was named to the MLS Next All-Star Game

Gozo has received several callups to various United States Youth National teams in recent seasons, the Eagle Mountain, Utah, native born and raised just a few minutes away from the RSL Academy in Herriman, Utah. His older brother, Elijah, was also a member of the RSL Academy, and currently plays for former RSL legend Kyle Beckerman at Utah Valley University, the State of Utah's lone NCAA Division I program.

MF Griffin Dillon: A versatile playmaker and two-way midfielder, Dillon joined the Real Monarchs earlier this year after two seasons at the University of Maryland. Prior to his Terrapins experience, Dillon recorded seven appearances with the then-USL Real Monarchs as a member of the RSL Academy during his senior year of high school. This season, Dillon appeared in 24 matches for the MLS NEXT Pro Real Monarchs, the California-born but Draper, Utah-raised Dillon growing up in the veritable shadow of America First Field.

FW Axel Kei: The 15-year-old striker from RSL Academy and winner of the 2021 MLS NEXT Cup Golden Boot award, Kei's lone previous first-team opportunity came in last year's Leagues Cup Showcase match against LIGA MX side Atlas In his first season with the RSL Academy, Kei helped the team win the 2021 MLS NEXT Cup, while several months later he made his professional debut with Real Monarchs on October 16, 2021, at 13 years, 8 months and 9 days, becoming the youngest professional athlete in American team sport history at the time. When he signed his MLS / RSL Homegrown contract in January of 2022, he became the youngest in Major League Soccer history, a record that was overtaken shortly after by Maximo Carrizo at NYCFC. In his two MLS NEXT Pro seasons with Real Monarchs, Kei has recorded four goals and four assists in 19 matches.

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