International Soccer

Real Salt Lake sign Matt Crooks from Championship side Middlesbrough

Real Salt Lake have signed midfielder Matt Crooks from EFL Championship outfit Middlesbrough on on a three-year deal through the 2026 MLS season.

Crooks makes the move to Major League Soccer after spending most of his career in the second and third divisions of English soccer with the likes of Huddersfield Town, Accrington Stanley, Hartlepool United and Northampton Town.

The 30-year-old attacking midfielder, who can also play as a striker and stands at six feet four inches tall, managed 21 goals and seven assists for Rotherham United before signing for Middlesbrough in July of 2021. Crooks departs the Championship after registering 23 goals and 15 assists in 115 appearances across all competitions for Middlesbrough.

“Everyone on the technical staff and in the front office are quite excited to welcome Matt Crooks to Salt Lake. Matt is a player that should fit in very well on and off the field. He brings size and veteran leadership. He has good feet and his awareness on both sides of the ball really stands out,” Real Salt Lake interim sporting director and chief soccer officer Kurt Schmid said in a release.

“Crooks is always very involved in the final third, always in the mix with the ability to score and set things up. He can combine well and he’s willing to do the work with and without the ball. We always look for good characters and players who will fit in the locker room. He is a good cultural fit and a high-character person that should translate his experiences and skills to MLS.”

Crooks departs his native England having made well over 300 appearances, and he’s set to join a midfield group that boasts the likes of Diego Luna, Nelson Palacio, Carlos Gomez, Braian Ojeda and Pablo Ruiz, who’s still recovering from a knee injury suffered in August.

“I’m quite excited to make this move, very much the right time and right fit for me. In speaking to Kurt and the manager while in Portugal, they showed me how we want to play – it’s pretty similar to our style at Middlesbrough,” said Crooks.

“These are exciting times for MLS, I feel like the League’s really growing now, with the World Cup coming over here in a couple of years’ time. There’s respect for football/soccer in America at the minute. I’m really looking forward to being a part of it and hopefully I can show everyone what I can do.”

Real Salt Lake being their 2024 MLS season on February 21 against Inter Miami and Lionel Messi at DRV PNK Stadium.

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