A nice article about La Roca’s Taylor Booth in Ogden’s Standard Examiner. Well-done Ryan Comer.
RYAN COMER, Standard-Examiner Staff
Taylor Booth would be “amazed” if he ever reached his goal of playing professional soccer in Europe.
If the 14-year-old Eden native has proved anything, it’s that the amazing is the norm.
“Two years ago I was in Dallas playing in the Dallas Cup, which is going on right now,” Taylor said. “We would go watch the RSL academy play and from then on it was like that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to play in these big games.”
The Generation Adidas Cup is just one of a number of big games Taylor has been involved in at a young age.
He’s not just a member of Real Salt Lake’s academy team, based in Casa Grande, Arizona, he’s also a member of the United States U-16 national team.
His journeys have taken him from California to Florida, and he’s visited countries such as Spain, Croatia, Germany and England. Last year, he played in a game with the Real Monarchs, a United Soccer League team owned by Real Salt Lake, against Brigham Young University.
According to national web site topdrawersoccer.com’s 2019 Boys IMG Academy 150 rankings,’ Taylor is ranked No. 2 overall.
“Just to be this young and have all these opportunities I have, it’s amazing,” Taylor said. “I never get bored of it … I think about (it) a lot, just to be so young and the places I’ve gone out of the country and just the experiences.”
Taylor’s success isn’t a total surprise. Both his parents, Chad and Kelli Booth, played soccer at Weber High School. Chad Booth, who graduated high school in 1991, went on to play at Weber State University, while Kelli Booth (née Carver), who graduated high school in 1996, would have played at Utah State University if not for two knee surgeries.
According to Kelli Booth, Taylor’s first word was “ball.”
“I wanted it to be mama, and it wasn’t. It was ball,” she said.
Like many kids, Taylor started playing soccer in the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) when he was around 5 years old and also played indoor soccer with his dad as his coach.
Kelli Booth described him, even then, as “aggressive” and “dominant,” recalling specifically an incident when he was around 9 years old and he was fouled to set up a penalty kick.
“He just stood up to take the penalty kick,” she said. “Most kids, where it’s not your home team, would want the older kid or the star forward (to take it) and here he is this little punk kid. He’s like, ‘I’m taking it.’ And he took it and he scored.”
That confidence served Taylor well when he later found himself playing for La Roca, a Layton-based club team. During one scrimmage, Taylor was backed into a corner with current Layton High soccer player Blaine Chambers defending him. Chambers had been talking trash just to try and get in Taylor’s head, and the next thing Chambers knew, Taylor had ‘nutmegged’ him (kicking the ball between his legs) on his way to scoring a goal.
Taylor didn’t say anything after scoring, but he didn’t have to. He just looked at Chambers.
Chambers was awestruck.
“I play some of the highest level of competition in the country and I’m going to tell you right now, nobody I’ve ever defended against has ever done that,” Chambers said.
Chambers, who is able to joke about the incident even though he considers it embarrassing, said he approached Taylor and said, ‘You got me good.”
“That’s probably my claim to fame is the kid from the national team has nutmegged me,” Chambers said.
Current Layton High goalkeeper Sam Hunter, who was in goal on the same play, said when Taylor isn’t scoring “he’s getting an assist for sure.”
“He’s good at turning, he’s just an all-around good player,” Hunter said.
Although it’s hard to guarantee anything, Chad Booth believes Taylor is essentially a lock for a great soccer future.
“Barring injury or barring something else, and if he continues to play the way he plays, he’ll play at a very, very high level, whether that’s collegiately leading to a professional career or directly to a professional career,” Chad Booth said. “Barring an injury, that at this point is almost a given will happen.”
Even when Taylor’s not on the soccer field, he’s still thinking about it.
“We took a ball to Yellowstone last summer and we’re waiting for the geyser to erupt and my kid’s having an impromptu little soccer session right there … and I heard someone behind us go, ‘Who brings a soccer ball to Yellowstone?’ I’m like, ’Well, we do, actually,’ ” Kelli Booth said.
All of Taylor’s success hasn’t come without challenges, however.
Fitting school in when he was an eighth grader at Snowcrest Junior High last year was a challenge. Taylor missed 60 days of school because of soccer-related travels, his mother said.
Taylor’s relocation to Arizona has also presented difficulties.
“From the outside it sounds so glamorous. Your kid’s on track to go play professional sports,” Kelli Booth said. “It sounds so glamorous, but behind the scenes it’s a full-time job because we’re trying to keep up with school, he’s traveling like crazy, you’re trying to hold the family unit together and he’s living in Arizona. And you’re coordinating all these different schedules with your family and also with him.”
While Taylor acknowledges the challenges, he believes everything he’s doing is for the best.
“The sacrifice is worth it and hopefully when I’m older it’ll pay off,” Taylor said.
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