Jasper Löffelsend’s Journey To Real Salt Lake Far From Conventional

Jun 28, 2022, 2:59 PM | Updated: Jul 22, 2022, 3:18 pm
Photo courtesy: Laura Dearden of Real Salt Lake.

SALT LAKE CITY – Jasper Löffelsend was drafted with the 81st overall pick in the 2022 MLS Draft and has since gone on to play in 14 from a possible 17 fixtures for Real Salt Lake in 2022.

His importance has quickly risen under the guidance of manager Pablo Mastroeni, who has entrusted Löffelsend with a variety of roles and responsibilities.

A German Upbringing

But Löffelsend’s journey to Major League Soccer is far from your typical player. Growing up, Löffelsend spent the first 22 years of his life in Germany where he developed at a number of youth academies nearby his hometown of Bergisch Gladbach, just west of Cologne.

After excelling throughout the youth system in Germany, Löffelsend was not being approached by scouts of higher clubs. When he graduated from University with a bachelor’s degree, Löffelsend had a decision to make, to quit soccer and find a full-time job or find a way to continue playing the game he loves.

KPMG Job Offer

Löffelsend began working as an intern for global accounting giant KPMG and was offered a full-time job in their auditing department shortly after the conclusion of his internship.

But while interning at KPMG he was still playing soccer in the semi-professional ranks of Germany. During that time Löffelsend had a teammate that had previously moved to America to pursue his higher education while also playing collegiate soccer.

It was then that Löffelsend sent a highlight video to a number of universities in the United States and within a month he was committed to the University of Pittsburgh.

Löffelsend began his Master’s program while starring for the Pittsburgh Panthers in 2021 where he played and started in 19 games while notching nine assists, good enough for fourth-best in the entire country.

A Young Phillip Lahm

Then at the MLS Combine, Löffelsend grabbed the attention of the Real Salt Lake front office in attendance.

Even before games had begun being played, assistant general manager Tony Beltran was drawn to Löffelsend during the warmups. He began playing at right-back before being moved into the middle of the park and was calm and controlled on the ball, much like the great Phillip Lahm, who Beltran (somewhat) jokingly told general manager Elliot Fall and executive VP of soccer operations Rob Zarkos, that there were similarities between the two.

“It is a unique story, and I think the credit first and foremost needs to go to Jasper.  He has been absolutely fantastic and has seized the opportunity in front of him,” Beltran told KSL Sports in an exclusive interview. “We did travel out and have a delegation at the MLS Combine and we saw Jasper there in person, we had been tracking him throughout the year when he was at University playing college ball. Seeing him up close and seeing him play both the outside back position and in the middle of the midfield it was pretty clear to all of our staff that he had something,” Beltran added.

Löffelsend Joins RSL

Shortly thereafter, Real Salt Lake drafted their guy with the 81st pick of the 2022 MLS Draft.

Löffelsend joined Real Salt Lake in the preseason and was fast to make an impression. He had signed with the Real Monarchs following the draft but that contract was quickly shredded and a first-team deal was presented to him. On the same day that it was announced Löffelsend had signed with the first team, he debuted coming off the bench against Houston in the opening game of the 2022 season.

Timing has also played a significant role in the emergence of Löffelsend. At the start of the 2022 season, Real Salt Lake was riddled with injury as a number of key contributors were sidelined. That, as well as the work Löffelsend had shown on the training pitch, provided a perfect platform for the young German to make the most of his opportunity.

Emotional Montreal Moment

It has been a wild past few years for Löffelsend whose entire family remains in Germany. One day before the road trip to Montreal, Löffelsend was informed that he would not be able to travel back to Germany for his sister’s wedding due to complications with his immigration status. Mastroeni approached Löffelsend and asked if he was mentally prepared to start, to which Löffelsend responded with an emphatic yes.

Immediately following the final whistle against Montreal, Löffelsend collapsed to his knees and spent the next few minutes crying tears of joy, elated that his team came from behind to win, while also sad that he was not going to make his sister’s wedding. The three points against Montreal were dedicated to his sister.

“It was heartbreaking, to be honest,” Löffelsend told KSL Sports. “The decision I had to make, I do not want to have to let down the team, I felt bad to just let them down for one game, that would have been heartbreaking for me too…I was just so happy that we came back from being down 1-0 in the opening minute and to turn it around, for me to do my thing, the emotion just took over and it was a little bit too much for me,” Löffelsend added.

Life Is Good For #28 In Utah

For now, Löffelsend is enjoying his time with Real Salt Lake. His family has been able to visit him on one occasion where they spent most of the trip exploring the beautiful landscape that Utah has to offer.

Löffelsend is a beloved member of the Real Salt Lake dressing room. His eagerness to further his development and willingness to play a variety of positions have both his teammates and coaching staff thrilled.

Interestingly, Löffelsend does not feel any nerves prior to gamedays. His inner-self is at peace knowing that he is going to compete as hard as he possibly can to ensure a positive result for his club.

It remains unknown when Löffelsend will be able to return home to visit his family in Germany. For now, he has a job to take care of with Real Salt Lake as they attempt to win the club’s second MLS Cup.

Fortunately, Löffelsend does not miss the German food, that is unless his grandmother is cooking, of course. His father is a terrific cook and specializes in the Mediterranean style which is what Löffelsend prefers. He does however miss the crisp taste of a German beer, which will likely never taste better flowing out of the MLS Cup later this year, or at least, that is his hope.

To listen to the full interview with Löffelsend, click here.

Next RSL Match

Real Salt Lake will next travel for an independence weekend clash against Minnesota United. Kick-off is slated for 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 3rd.

The match will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports and KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.



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