For years, Tyler Klein was always told by those around him that he was an incredible soccer player.

Those who watched him train would witness Klein pull off impressive feats and heap praise upon him and ask if he was planning on playing professionally in the future.

But Klein said that his brilliance in training, and the expectations that came with it, didn’t really translate into strong in-game performances.

“I’d go into these games with all these unrealistic expectations for myself,” Klein said. “It was a lot for me mentally and emotionally.” 

Klein’s dad suggested that he watch a video about the mindset of Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne — a player that Klein said he tries to model his game after. In the video, Klein watched as De Bruyne explained his mentality of having the confidence to make mistakes and keep trying instead of avoiding mistakes altogether.

Klein said that adopting that mindset changed things for him as a player.

“I had to learn that you can lose the ball nine or 10 times a game, which I often did, but if you scored or assisted (a goal) nobody is going to remember the times you lose the ball,” Klein said.

“It was just a mindset of trusting myself and knowing that mistakes are part of the game. …With that mindset, I really came into my own as a player and I discovered my identity as a player and as a teammate, and I started to develop my confidence.”

It was that mindset that allowed Klein to finally produce brilliance on the field, as he made numerous stunning plays as a senior for the 13-win Orem Tigers. Klein’s spectacular season was worthy of the 2023 Deseret News Mr. Soccer recognition.

The Orem senior finished the season with 17 goals and 10 assists, leading the Tigers to a No. 2 seed in the 5A tournament.

High school boys soccer: 2023 Deseret News Players of the Year were catalysts to their teams’ state titles
High school boys soccer: Deseret News 2023 6A all-state team
High school boys soccer: Deseret News 2023 5A all-state team
High school boys soccer: Deseret News 2023 4A all-state team
High school boys soccer: Deseret News 2023 3A all-state team
High school boys soccer: Deseret News 2023 2A all-state team

Klein said that winning the award was never really on his radar as he progressed through the club and high school levels. Even though he was invited to the inaugural Deseret News High School Awards ceremony as a candidate for the award, Klein didn’t really think he was going to win until he heard his name called at the podium.

“I kind of just walked up (to the podium) with my hands in my pockets thinking like, ‘Holy crap what’s happening,’” Klein said. “I just wasn’t prepared for anything like that. I was just pitching myself afterwards while looking at the trophy. … I do feel like I deserved it, but I just wasn’t expecting it at all.”

Klein — who said he wasn’t really planning on pursuing soccer at the collegiate level — said that receiving the award has allowed him to get in touch with some college soccer coaches. Klein has yet to make a decision on his future, but playing collegiate soccer now seems like a real possibility.

Due to Orem’s heartbreaking early exit to Olympus in the 5A tournament, Klein thought that his chances to win the award were next to zero, but his ability to produce goal-scoring chances — seemingly out of nothing — ended up putting him above the other contenders.

“I just feel like I have the ability to produce one or two strong, individual moments each game,” Klein said. “I’m just not afraid to try stuff that no one else really wants to try, whether it’s a first-time volley or taking on a few defenders. I just think that those moments are so much fun.”

Past Deseret News Mr. Soccer winners

2022 — Stockton Short, Weber
2021Austin Wallace, Skyridge
2019 — Alex Fankhauser, Brighton
2018 — Carter Johnson, Herriman
2017 — Kaden Amano, Layton
2016 — Aidan Dayton, Maple Mountain
2015 — Christian Bain, Alta
2014 — Lucas Cawley, Viewmont
2013 — Matt Coffey, Brighton
2012 — Tyler Murdock, Weber
2011 — Derek Boggs, Alta
2010 — Casey Black, Davis
2009 — Josh Hernandez, Davis
2008 — Colton Cook, Viewmont

After mainly playing as a defensive midfielder his junior year, Klein was able to settle into his ideal roles as an attacking midfielder or forward this season. Playing higher up the field afforded Klein more opportunities to create the spectacular moments he became well-known for.

The more and more plays he made, the more confident he got as the season progressed.

“My favorite part of soccer is in the final third,” Klein said. “I love seeing defenders panicking and then setting up a goal for either myself or a teammate. I know I have the talent and ability in those moments, so I have a lot of fun (there).”

Though the season didn’t end the way Klein and the rest of the Orem Tigers wanted it to, Klein said that he and his teammates know they did all they could.

Ultimately, it was an outstanding season for Klein, who leaves Orem with no regrets and with the confidence that he was always searching for in his early playing days.

“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to at the end of the season, but I feel like I played well and did as much as I could against Olympus,” Klein said.

“Honestly, it was a validating year for me. I always knew I had the ability, but I’ve never really trusted myself to perform, so it feels awesome to have delivered the season that I did.”

Orem celebrates Tyler Klein’s goal against Alta at Alta High School in Sandy on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News