Owen Knecht: UVU Men’s Soccer’s hometown hero

Reading Time: 2 minutes Having lived his whole life in Utah, Owen discusses his experience signing to play soccer with UVU Men’s Soccer team.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Utah Valley Men’s Soccer program is on the rise. With the hiring of legacy coach Kyle Beckerman, former standout for Real Salt Lake and the United States Men’s National Team, the tide of the program has turned thanks to the players he has recruited.  

This is thanks to young, promising players like sophomore Owen Knecht. 

Knecht, who reigns from Highland, Utah, was an All-Region selection in high school at American Fork. He had five goals and one assist in his senior season with the Cavemen.  

Knecht’s love for soccer began when he was just a kid, mainly due to his two older brothers that played who he loved competing with at an early age. “The second I touched the ball, I knew it was my thing,” Knecht added. “I remember clearly from a young age how excited I was to watch and attend soccer games.”   

Knecht has transformed the dream from his youth into his reality. As he enters the 2023 season, he stands out as one of Utah Valley’s most valuable players, already contributing to two of the Wolverines 5 goals this season. 

Knecht joined a club named “Surf” during junior high that helped him gain some experience, he then decided to join Sparta when he was only 12. Knecht spent five years with Sparta, and he said it has helped shape the player he is today. 

“My first couple years in Sparta were very tough for me because I came from Surf, which was not very competitive,” Knecht said. “During my years at Sparta, I had to learn a lot of new things. Justice, my coach, played a huge role in preparing me for UVU.” 

Shortly after his five-year stint with Sparta, Knecht then decided to go to FC Cincinnati’s U19 squad a semester early, where he learned and grew the most. “I never saw soccer at a high level like it was at FC Cincinnati,” Knecht added. “I wasn’t comfortable at all being out there because I felt like one of the worst players, which helped my confidence in a big way.”  

Major League Soccer allows its teams to have academies so they can develop young and aspiring professionals to train with the big leagues while maintaining eligibility to play collegiate soccer. 

This opportunity propelled him to be a standout player for the Wolverines and he hopes to lead them to a successful season. 

However, it is not just Knecht who realizes his role, players and coaches are seeing his value.  

“Owen’s work rate is second to none. Owen will do dirty work runs and whatever is asked of him. He really put in the work,” Beckerman said. “He came in during the spring and worked his way up and his work rate is contagious.” 

In just 20 games with the Wolverines, Knecht has reached the goal five times on just 21 shots, with 11 of them on target.  

Knecht was pivotal in Utah Valley’s dominant 4-0 win in the season opener against Kansas City. Despite dropping the last three games, Knecht and the Wolverines will look to right the ship as they travel to California to take on UC Santa Barbara on Sept. 9 and Cal Poly on Sept. 12.  

All games will air live and can be streamed on ESPN+