Tuesday , April 18, 2017 - 11:19 AM
Up until a couple weeks ago, Taylor Booth didn’t even have his learner’s driving permit.
Now he has that, as well as something much more meaningful: a spot on the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team that will play in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Panama from April 21 to May 7.
Booth, a 15-year-old Eden native, was one of 20 players named to the U.S. squad coached by John Hackworth, according to a release from U.S. soccer. The U.S., which will be part of Group C along with Jamaica, Mexico and El Salvador, will be trying to qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup that runs from Oct. 6-28 in India.
The U.S. plays Jamaica on Sunday, April 23, Mexico on Wednesday, April 26, and El Salvador on Saturday, April 29.
“The depth of the player pool in this age group is as good as we have ever seen,” Hackworth said in the release.
Booth’s star continues to grow brighter since he played in the Generation Adidas Cup last March.
In April, he was one of 20 players named to the U-16 Boys National Team’s roster for the 2016 Tournament Delle Nazioni in Italy.
In August, he was one of 24 players invited to a U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team camp in Park City, a camp that included friendlies against Utah Valley University and the RSL Monarchs. In October, he was one of 32 players invited to the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida.
Booth suffered a concussion Oct. 10 during a game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, home of the Colorado Rapids. He was sidelined for about eight weeks, but as evidenced by the achievement announced Monday, Booth recovered well.
“We got down (to Florida) on Friday and he said he’s been training really, really well the last couple weeks,” said his father, Chad Booth. “When it comes down to it, he just seems to rise up.”
Will Parchman, a writer for mlssoccer.com, considers Booth Real Salt Lake’s top prospect.
In an article last month that ranked the top academy prospect for every MLS club, Parchman wrote the following about Booth:
“Being named the top up-and-coming star in RSL’s academy is a real honor these days, and I have no hesitation about anointing Taylor Booth with that moniker at the moment. Booth was named to the U16 MNT as a 14-year-old and U17 residency at 15, and his confident, mature play as a tone-setting midfielder validated the choice. RSL is fond of developing technically able midfielders capable of picking apart a defensive line. Booth might be their best ever.”
Booth called the last year “a blur.”
“Going from country to country and playing … it’s been a dream, really,” he said.
Booth’s mom, Kelli Booth, joked that she wishes she could collect the sky miles from all the flying he has done.
“Sometimes we have to sit and think, ‘Now, wait a second. Is this real? Is this really happening?” she said. “Because sometimes it doesn’t feel real.”
Contact Standard-Examiner sports reporter Ryan Comer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @RyanComerSe and on Facebook.
Sign up for e-mail news updates.