[MLS ROOKIE CLASS: Ten to Watch] Real Salt Lake's highly rated signing of Jordan Allenout of the University of Virginia gives new meaning to the term "homegrown signing." In his last three years of high school, Allen spent time living and playing soccer in Florida and Arizona but has never lived in Salt Lake City. And he began and finished his high school career in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y.
Allen's year at RSL AZ, Real Salt Lake's residential program at Grande Sports Academy in Arizona, earned him homegrown status, allowing RSL to sign him after his freshman year at Virginia, where he helped the Cavaliers reach the Men's College Cup.
MLS Rookie Class: Ten to Watch
1. Jordan Allen (Virginia-signed with Real Salt Lake)
Allen had 16 goals as a sophomore at Aquinas Institute in 2010 under his father, Howard Allen, who came from Jamaica to play at Roberts Wesleyan College and attend grad school at the University of Rochester and is a bank executive. Jordan was good enough to make the U.S. roster for the 2011 Concacaf Under-17 Championship in his only semester at the U-17 residency program in Bradenton but did not travel with the USA to the Under-17 World Cup in Mexico.
Allen moved to RSL AZ, where he lived in dorms at Grande Sports Academy, for the 2011-12 Development Academy season, splitting time with the U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams. He was named the Western Conference U-15/16 Player of the Year with seven goals as a forward in 25 games. It cannot be said Allen has never been to Salt Lake City before, though. He played for RSL in several Reserve League games.
After the 2011-12 season, Allen returned home for his senior year at Aquinas Institute and also played for Empire United, which is now affiliated with the New England Revolution, before enrolling at Virginia.
Allen is the 20th Virginia player to leave school early to turn pro. The first three didn't do too badly: John Harkes, Tony Meola and Claudio Reyna. Later Ben Olsen and Kyle Martino won MLS Rookie of the Year awards after leaving Charlottesville.
Along with sophomore Darius Madison (eligible to sign with the Philadelphia Union as a homegrown player), Allen gave Virginia two very dangerous players out wide. He played at right back for the U.S. U-18s and is listed as a defender on the U-20s with whom he is training at the camp that began Friday in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
Allen's versatility should make him right at home with RSL, the defending Western Conference champion, and he has a shot at getting considerable playing time in 2014.