Aaron Herrera of the University of New Mexico men’s soccer team has signed a professional contract with Real Salt Lake of MLS, the club announced today.

Herrera just completed his third season for the Lobos, lead the team with five goals and five assists during the 2017 campaign and briefly was moved up top from his natural right back position in an effort to stimulate a stagnant Lobo attack. In his three seasons at UNM, he appeared in 54 matches, scoring seven goals and tallying eight assists. Prior to the 2017 season, Herrera was a member of the United States Men’s National Team that appeared in the Under-20 World Cup.

Before coming to New Mexico, Herrera played in the Real Salt Lake Academy for three seasons, reaching the U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Championship twice in that time.

“Aaron is another example of a player who developed under Martin Vasquez and Freddy Juarez at our Academy and put in the work to become a professional,” General Manager Craig Waibel said in a release. “There are so many different paths those players have taken, but it just goes further to emphasize that there are so many different ways to successfully develop talents in this country. We are extremely proud of Aaron for his accomplishments thus far and are excited to have him continue his career at the pro level with Real Salt Lake.”

Herrera’s departure leaves the Lobos with big shoes to fill defensively, and it’s not a hole that will be easily filled. However, the Lobos are no strangers to having to fill the holes left by players departing for the pro ranks, as they experienced a similar situation following the departures of Niko Hansen and Chris Wehan after the 2016 season.

Herrera becomes the youngest member of an aging RSL defense, where the average age is nearly 30 years old. Along with fellow academy product Justen Glad, who is just a few months older, Herrera represents the next generation of the RSL defense.

The 2018 MLS season will begin next March.

Cameron Goeldner is a freelance sports reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter