After a strong debut, Taylor Booth seeks continued growth at St. Polten
February 17, 2021
WHEN AMERICAN PLAYERS move abroad, some are able to achieve first-team minutes right off the bat while others begin at the youth and reserve levels. For players who have the latter route, it can often be a challenging grind and the hopes of first-team minutes are uncertain.
For Taylor Booth, 19, that quest for first team minutes is finally coming true after joining Austrian Bundesliga side St. Polten on loan for the remainder of the season. Booth’s path initially saw him sign for Bayern Munich in January 2019 to play with the club’s youth teams– a move facilitated by an Italian passport due to Booth’s heritage. This allowed him to move before he turned 18.
But two years later, minutes were tougher to come and the opportunity for first team minutes came about after he was sent on a week-long trial with St. Polten – which was sitting eighth in the 12-team Austrian Bundesliga. Booth, primarily No. 6 and No. 8 midfielder, impressed and the club took him on loan.
“I was excited,” Booth told ASN from Austria. “I felt like I needed a move and I was excited for the challenge. The first league in Austria is I mean it is first team football in a first league. I was super excited to get out here and to start training with them for the trial week and really see what everything was. Everything went well and they wanted to take me on loan. I was really happy. I felt like it was the correct move for the next step in my career.
“If you have the opportunity to play first team from the first league in Europe. I didn't want to turn that down. And I wasn't getting a lot of minutes back in Munich.”
On Saturday and just days after the loan was finalized, Booth started for St. Polten against Ried and was competent throughout the entire game. He was active, tidy on the ball, and won a solid number of his duels and aerials.
Taylor Booth: raw # for St. Poelten in 1-1 draw vs. Ried— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 14, 2021
3 key passes
30/42 passing (71%)
1/6 long balls
12 duels won (8 lost)
3 dribbles (3 attempts)
2 tackles (3 attempts)
5 aerials won (4 lost)
- Solid pro debut!
His best moment came in the 83rd minute when St. Polten was trailing 1-0 but Booth assisted on a goal to Samuel Tetteh – a forward on loan from Salzburg but who was unsuccessful in a loan stint to the New York Red Bulls last season. That assist turned out to be the decisive play for St. Polten which secured a 1-1 draw.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Booth is excited for the opportunity that the Austrian Bundesliga presents in helping him transition to being a first-team player.
“The Austrian in league is a very physical league,” Booth explained. “I've seen that and I've already watched games. It's a very physically demanding league, which a player like me, it can only help me develop more because I can add that part to my game. And as far as our team, St. Polten, we actually have quite a few players who are willing to play and keep the ball on the floor and try and play the best style possible as much as we can, which is definitely something that made my decision a lot easier when hearing that and seeing the type of players that they had here.”
Joining Booth at St. Polten is fellow American midfielder Brandon Servania who also impressed on a similar trial and will looking to make his debut in the games ahead. For the Utah native Booth, having another U.S. youth international at the club, such as the Alabama-born Servania helps with adjustment to a new league, a new country, and a different way of life compared with the big-city vibe at Munich.
“I knew Brandon before the trial,” Booth said. “To have another American with you there and to be training with you all week, it makes everything a little more comfortable and it helps everything, it makes everything a little bit easier.”
Over the past several years, Booth has done well adjusting to moving away from home. In Germany, he worked hard to learn German and adapt to the new culture. His younger brother, Zach, 17, was also recently signed by Leicester City in England to play for its youth teams – and he is just now coming off an injury. The two are close and that has helped both make the adjustment to moving abroad as well.
“I moved away from home when I was 14, down to Arizona to go play for Real Salt Lake's academy,” Booth said. “So, I had already been away out of my house for two years. I was used to being away from home at that point. As far as moving to Europe, it actually was a lot easier than I expected, to be honest. It's kind of crazy because once you get over here, it's like you're in a whole different world living a different life because you're so far away from America. I don't miss home as much when I'm in Europe compared to when I was like living at residency or living in Arizona. It's the time change is so different and really just living your own life.”
His first team professional debut over the weekend came at a good time for Booth as it will give him a platform to showcase his abilities. On Christmas Eve, Booth received news of a significant setback when FIFA announced that the U-20 World Cup was cancelled due to COVID and Booth was expected to be a key contributor to the U.S. team’s midfield.
In 2017, Booth made the U.S. U-17 World Cup team while playing a year younger than most of the players on the team. The 2021 World Cup was set to see him play with the key 2001-born U.S. players for the first time in a major tournament. Playing in the Austrian Bundesliga, however, will provide that showcase and Booth hopes to also eventually climb back into the international picture with the U-23 team (either in 2021 or 2024) or possibly the full national team if he impresses and perhaps moves to a bigger league.
“I was definitely super, super bummed,” Booth said of the U-20 World Cup cancellation. “I was able to go to the U-17 World Cup a year older. And ever since that tournament, I always had in the back of my mind about the U-20 World Cup just because it was my age group. At that point I was already familiar with all the players in our age group and I knew I could be a key part of that team. To hear that got canceled - it sucks, to be honest. Also, it would have been cool because my little brother would probably have been with U-17 team in the same year. So that would have been cool to have me at the U-20 World Cup and my little brother at the U-17 World Cup.”
“Obviously, everything depends on COVID right now so it's, it's difficult to say,” he added on what’s next for him internationally. “I can say right now I'm just focused on the opportunity I have right now here in St. Polten. The national team stuff will come as long as I do my job with my club team.”