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Revs snap up 15-year-old phenom
by Paul Kennedy, November 15th, 2010 6:32PM

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TAGS:  mls, new england revolution, youth boys

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[MLS] The New England Revolution's signing of 15-year-old Diego Fagundez -- the youngest player signed to an MLS contract since Freddy Adu joined D.C. United at the age of 14 in 2004 -- as its first homegrown player signals MLS's rapid expansion into player development.

MLS's board of governors is expected to vote this week to lift limits on the number of homegrown players clubs can sign.

A relaxation in NCAA rules, allowing amateur players to play alongside pros as long as they aren't paid, means MLS teams can give opportunities for young academy players without their losing their college eligibility.

The moves come as homegrown players -- players MLS teams signed from their academy teams -- played prominent roles in the 2010 season.

D.C. United's Danny Najar was a rare bright spot for the four-time MLS champions and earned 2010 Rookie of the Year honors.

Juan Agudelo, another 17-year-old attacking player, started both playoff games for the New York Red Bulls and earned a call-up to the U.S. national team.

Ruben Luna, one of three home-grown players signed by FC Dallas over the summer, played in the second of three FCD games on the road to MLS Cup 2010.

The new NCAA rules, adopted to deal with issues colleges had signing foreign basketball players, mean MLS teams will be able to try out academy players as young as 14 or 15 in the U.S. Open Cup, Concacaf Champions League and friendlies.

Such moves are common for big clubs in Europe and South America but unheard of up until now in American sports. (College ice hockey programs opted out of the new rules for fear that young players would be attracted to Junior A pro clubs.)

The Philadelphia Union used 15-year-old Zach Pfeffer in its friendly against Chivas Guadalajara, and Toronto FC started high school player Ashtone Morgan at left back for its final Concacaf Champions League game against Arabe Unido in October.

MLS's aggressive move into player development is greater incentive for it to resurrect its Reserve League.

Teams will need playing opportunities for their homegrown signings and academy players they will want to test against older competition.

The Uruguayan-born Fagundez played the 2009-10 season with the Revolution’s U-16 squad and earned U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Starting XI honors after scoring 20 goals. He previously played for FC Greater Boston Bolts.

He was called into camp with the U.S. under-15 national team in 2010.



0 comments
  1. david caetano
    commented on: November 16, 2010 at 9:53 a.m.
    great to finally see teams have the confidence to bring in to 1st team the players they develop. These players need a competitive environment and they will progress rapidly. I played pro in Europe after college and the competition level clearly helps.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: November 16, 2010 at 11:02 a.m.
    A step in the right directon for all soccer in the USA. Pro player developement should be the job of the Pro clubs. Just as it is all over the world.

  1. Kerry Ogden
    commented on: November 16, 2010 at 1:17 p.m.
    The biggest problem I have seen is that there are very few MLS Academies in this country, another is the fact that SA claims this is a home grown prodigy, FROM Uruguay, don't get me wrong, homegrown to me means having been born and raised in the USA not born in another country, raise and brought here to the US through US talent scout. This seems to be the norm even in the USNT's. Their are alot of could be excellent players already here in the US that get overlooked each yr. that is where I have a beef about the growth of soccer in this country.

  1. david caetano
    commented on: November 16, 2010 at 3:56 p.m.
    Players need to really enjoy the game to become better players. One way that we can do this is by each club, High School, or any other soccer organization is to make their programs have players and teams the younger players can emulate and look up to. When I coached High school I had team photos taken and the players signed them then we would give them out at the night games. Good for the players, great for the youth. UConn during 70´s and 80´s with coach Morrone always did similar things and the attendance was 2,5500 to 6,000 and excellent players were always coming out of that area.

  1. Brian Herbert
    commented on: November 17, 2010 at 6:57 p.m.
    I like your commment David, yes, big need to create a passionate soccer culture at the youth level. At GSA in Atlanta, we have been doing a lot with team websites - posting videos and pictures of players, doing blogs and discussion boards. I love the signed player pics idea, although I work with U9 to U12 academy kids so they're a bit young for that, also for legal reasons gotta be careful. Back to the article topic - I think Don Garber makes a lot of good decisions with the long-term in mind, but WHY would we restrict homegrown signings??? Signings and transfer fees for homegrown talent has been THE WAY to both success and financial strength at clubs like Man U., Barcelona, and Ajax. That is a place where MLS needs to get out of the way and let clubs hold the reins a little more!

  1. david caetano
    commented on: November 23, 2010 at 1:59 p.m.
    Yes Brian, USSF-MLS need to develop players but certainly need to promote other organizations to do the same with similar rules. this will only help USSF-MLS as more players will be developed, hopefully with quality. hello Paul, have a thought, When we comment there should be a way for us to receive an email when the next comments are made. I have enjoyed Soccer American since the late 70´s.


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