[MLS] Francisco Navas Cobo became the latest player to be promoted from an MLS academy team to its first team when the 18-year-old midfielder signed with the Houston Dynamo. The story of this "homegrown" signing began last summer when Navas Cobo left Colombia, where he was raised, and returned to Houston, where he was born.
Navas Cobo, whose mother Flor Estela Cobo studied at the University of Houston and is an attorney in Colombia, helped the Dynamo U-17/18 team into first place in the Texas Division of the USSF Development Academy league at the break for the Texas high school season and then appeared for the first team in its first four preseason scrimmages and both games against MLS teams.
Navas Cobo had earlier played for a year with Houston youth powerhouse Houstonians before returning to Colombia, where he spent time in America de Cali's youth system.
He is the second Dynamo Academy player to be signed to a first-team contract.
Goalkeeper Tyler Deric signed with the Dynamo in 2009. His case was unique in that he signed after playing for the University of North Carolina.
Other players to earn promotions include Georgian-born Giorgi Chirgadze (New York), Tristan Bowen (Los Angeles), Mexican U-17 Bryan Leyva (FC Dallas), Bill Hamid (D.C. United) and Cesar Zamora (Chivas USA).
Several other Development Academy stars spent time with MLS clubs in preseason.
Ruben Luna, the 2009 Development Academy U-15/16 Player of the Year, went with FC Dallas to Florida.
Andy Najar, only 16, went with D.C. United on its preseason trip to Florida.