[MLS SPOTLIGHT] In his fifth season in MLS, Toronto FC's Doneil Henry has emerged as one of the top young center backs in MLS, while Wil Trapp has been emerged as a key player for the new-look Columbus, another team that opened the 2014 season with two straight wins.
Henry had a strong game in Toronto's 2-1 win at Seattle in its season opener, and Toronto followed that up with a 1-0 win over D.C. United on Saturday. His play won praise from Toronto captain Steven Caldwell, his center-back partner.
"It's a pleasure playing beside him," said the Scotsman after Saturday's win. "I think we complement each other well and hopefully we can keep getting better and better and obviously clean sheets are important so it's a real bonus to get one today."
Henry was the first player Toronto signed out of his academy program. He doesn't turn 21 until April but is already in his fifth MLS season. Of the 20 Homegrown players who played in 2014, only D.C. United's Bill Hamid, excellent in goal against Toronto, has been around the league as long.
Seattle's DeAndre Yedlin, New England's Scott Caldwell and Trapp, all starters in their rookie seasons, are among five Akron players who turned pro after Caleb Porter left the Zips for Portland and signed with the MLS clubs who held their Homegrown rights. Dillon Serna started for Colorado in its opener and Chad Barson saw his first action of the season for Columbus in its 2-1 win over Philadelphia.
Trapp has emerged as one of the key players in the new-look Crew under Gregg Berhalter, serving as the holding midfielder, covering for the Crew, which has been attacking out of the back with outside backs Josh Williams and Waylon Francis.
Except for the first half against Toronto, Yedlin, sidelined part of the preseason with an ankle injury, has played well for the Sounders. Scott Caldwell, on the other hand, has struggled as the holding midfielder for the Revs and appears to have lost his starting job, at least for the time being, to veteran Andy Dorman.
The only Homegrown rookie who is starting is Harry Shipp, who had his first MLS assist in the Chicago Fire's 1-1 tie with New York on Sunday.Jordan Allen showed promise in two short appearances off the bench for Real Salt Lake, but he is now out with an ankle injury.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
“He asked me if I was ready and I kind of laughed a little bit."
-- Victor Pineda, who spent four seasons as a pro with the Chicago Fire without playing an MLS game, on his reaction after Chicago Fire coachFrank Yallopasked him to go in Sunday's game against New York for his MLS debut. Injuries had previously set back the Fire academy product.(Chicago-Fire.com)
Big seasons were expected from Diego Fagundez at New England and Gyasi Zardes with the LA Galaxy, but both have fired blanks so far in this season. Indeed, the Revs have gone scoreless for their first three games for the first time in their history, while Zardes gave way to veteran Swede Stefan Ishizaki in the Galaxy's reshaped midfield at RSL on Saturday.
USA-MEXICO CALL-UPS?The two likely Homegrown players to get call-ups to the U.S. national team for its game April 2 against Mexico are Hamid and Yedlin.
2014 Homegrown Players:
MIN. PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)
270 Diego Fagundez, New England (4th year: New England acad.)
270 DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle (2nd year: Akron)
232 Kellyn Acosta, FC Dallas (2nd year: FC Dallas acad.)
181 Scott Caldwell,New England (2nd year: Akron)
180(1 assist)Wil Trapp, Columbus (2nd year: Akron)
180 Kevin Ellis, Sporting KC (2nd year: Barton County CC)
180 Bill Hamid, D.C. United (5th year: D.C. United acad.)
180 Doneil Henry, Toronto FC (5th year: Toronto FC acad.)
180 Shane O'Neill, Colorado (3rd year: Colorado acad.)
180 Russell Teibert, Vancouver (4th year: Vancouver acad.)
156 (1 assist) Harry Shipp, Chicago (rookie: Notre Dame)
90 Moises Hernandez, FC Dallas (2nd year: FC Dallas acad.)
90 Dillon Serna, Colorado (2nd year: Akron)
69 Gyasi Zardes, LA Galaxy (2nd year: CSU Bakersfield)
45 Marco Delgado, Chivas USA (3rd year: Chivas USA acad.)
19 Victor Pineda, Chicago (1st year: Fire acad.)
9 Jordan Allen, Real Salt Lake (rookie: Virginia)
4 Sean Okoli, Wake Forest (rookie: Wake Forest)
1 Ashtone Morgan, Toronto FC (4th year: Toronto FC acad.)
1 Chad Barson, Columbus (2nd year: Akron)