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Top 10 American MLS Homegrown prospects
by Paul Kennedy, July 15th, 2014 9:57PM

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TAGS:  mls

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[MLS SPOTLIGHT] The success of DeAndre Yedlin, the first MLS Homegrown player to represent the USA in the World Cup, sheds new light on the league's development program, designed to reward clubs for investing in their academy programs by giving them rights to players who come through their systems.

It is also supposed to provide an alternative to the traditional path to the pros -- via college -- though many of the Homegrown signings played college ball -- like Yedlin did.

Here's a look (in alphabetical order) at the top 10 MLS Homegrown players who might follow him on the national team.

1. Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas). Dallas has signed more players to Homegrown contracts than any other club, but breaking into the first team has been tough. Acosta made his MLS debut just 10 days after his 18th birthday last summer and kept the right back job, making 13 appearances, four more than the rest of the other Dallas Homegrown players had combined in 2013. He kept his starting job after a change of coaches but an avulsion fracture to his left knee has sidelined him since April. Acosta, who should return to action next month, has already played in one Under-20 World Cup and should be part of the USA's squad that will attempt to qualify in 2015.

2. Marky Delgado (Chivas USA). Only 19, Delgado is already in his third season with Chivas USA and continues to see regular playing time. Delgado lifted the pinpoint pass that set up Erick Torres for his winning goal against Vancouver on Saturday. He played Monday night in the U.S. U-20s' 2-1 win over Chile.

3. Bill Hamid (D.C. United). Hamid had one of the games of the season in goal for D.C. United on Friday as he held off a San Jose barrage to earn first-place United a 2-1 win on the road. Hamid's recovery from a so-so 2013 season has been a big reason for United's turnaround. At 23, he's already started 99 MLS games. He earned his first cap for the USA in 2012 after earning call-ups for five U.S. friendlies in 2011 after Jurgen Klinsmann took over as national team coach. He probably ranks third, behind Nick Rimando and Sean Johnson, among MLS keepers on the U.S. depth chart, but United's success will definitely keep him in the conservation.

4. Matt Miazga (New York). Like FC Dallas, New York has a well-establish academy program, but few players have made it on the first team. A year out of high school, though, Miazga finds himself starting in the middle of the Red Bulls' backline ahead of veterans  Armando and Ibrahim Sekagya. He gave up a horrible goal on Saturday but recovered to have a solid second half in the Red Bulls' 4-1 win over Columbus on Saturday. With Armando suspended, Miazga skipped the U.S. U-20s' NIT Invitational to remain with the Red Bulls for whom he should start on Wednesday against Philadelphia. Miazga, who turns 19 Saturday, hails from the Polish soccer hotbed of Clifton, N.J., and previously played at the youth level for Poland.

5. *Shane O'Neill (Colorado). Born in Ireland, where his father was a Gaelic football star, but raised in Boulder, where his father owns a pub, O'Neill is still only 20 but starting his second season with Rapids. He stepped in early last season at center back alongside Drew Moor, pushing Moor's longtime partner, Marvell Wynne, to right back. O'Neill's favorite position is midfielder, but his size (6-foot-2) and good feet make him one of the top national team prospects at center backs. He started for the U.S. U-20s in 2013 and traveled with the senior national team to Brazil in January. He was

6. *Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting KC). At 17, Palmer-Brown is the youngest player on the books in MLS and he has already made three appearances this season. His first start was pretty much a disaster -- he conceded a penalty in the first half and was red-carded after picking up two cautions at the start of the second half -- but Sporting KC threw him back out at center back for two more games before the World Cup break. He played with the U.S. U-20s at the Dallas Cup in April and is eligible for both the 2015 and 2017 Under-20 World Cups. Repeated offers from Juventus to buy Palmer-Brown have been rebuffed by Sporting KC.

7. *Dillon Serna (Colorado). The youth movement at the Rapids that began under Oscar Pareja has continued under Pablo Mastroeni, who inserted Serna, a second-year pro, ahead of some other established veterans in the Colorado midfield, and the 5-foot-7 Serna has two goals and two assists in 14 appearances this season. Like O'Neill, Serna played on the U.S. U-20s in 2013 and could be part of the under-23 national team that will attempt to qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

8. *Harry Shipp (Chicago). Shipp (pictured), 22, is a case of a player who played all four years of college. He wasn't even a regular starter at Notre Dame until his senior year in 2013 when he led the Fighting Irish to their first national title. All he's done in his rookie season is record six goals and four assists, tied for first on the Fire in both categories, making him the favorite for Rookie of the Year. The 5-foot-9 attacker had one of the games of the season with three goals and one assist in Chicago's 5-4 win over New York. If Chicago is to make the playoffs, Shipp will have to play a big role.



9. *Wil Trapp (Columbus). One of five Akron players -- among them Yedlin and Serna -- to sign Homegrown contracts after Zips head coach Caleb Porter went to the Portland Timbers after the 2012 college season, the 21-year-old Trapp started 16 games in his rookie season and already has 14 starts in 2014, serving as the club's vice captain. He missed the three games before the World Cup break with a knee injury and the Crew went winless. Trapp started for the USA at the 2013 Under-20 World Cup and should be a key player on the under-23 national team in its quest for an Olympic berth.

10. *Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy). Zardes, 23, was considered the top player coming out of college after the 2012 season, his third at Cal State Bakersfield, and he saw plenty of playing time as a rookie, playing in 27 games for the Galaxy. He's already matched his 2013 output with four goals in 2014 -- including the winner Saturday against Real Salt Lake. He started the 2014 season on the wing but has found his form recently since being moved to the frontline alongside Robbie Keane. He also scored two goals, both headers, in the 2-1 win over Arizona United in the Open Cup.

*Selected to 2014 Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game roster.

NOTE: New England's Diego Fagundez, the best Homegrown player in MLS, only received permanent residency status in October 2013, so he may not even by eligible to play for the USA until after the 2018 World Cup. He attended a Uruguayan under-20 national team camp in 2012 but was never played a competitive match for the Celeste at any level. Besides Yedlin and Hamid, the only other MLS Homegrown product who has been capped for the USA is 21-year-old Juan Agudelo, who is a free agent after twice being denied a British work permit at Stoke City.


4 comments
  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: July 16, 2014 at 9:34 a.m.
    Harrison Shipp should be the flagship... for US soccer development. The question should be... why was he so overlooked??? Lets see... oh wait... hes 5' 9"...

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: July 16, 2014 at 10:15 a.m.
    Players are either overlooked or not looked at because of their size and physicality. The real problem is that these players should be observed in game situations, not combines. An old adage says if the player does his thing in practice, can he do it when it counts.

  1. peter mcginn
    commented on: July 16, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.
    It seems like these kids with no Euro link - parents with EU passports get the short end. The Palmer-Brown kid, I have no idea who he is, should in principle be able to go to Juventus or wherever to play. These MLS teams lock these players up for cheap, MLS salaries are pretty low, and then they own them. This is not good for U.S. Soccer or for the player. In order for U.S. soccer to blossom it seems clear you need to get more players to Europe and have them come back. I think Dempsey, Landon et al contribute to the development of MLS and U.S. soccer. As a casual fan if you have U.S. guys "branded" as top notch Euro players playing in the MLS it gives legitimacy to the league while offering fans the opportunity to see how these euro annointed guys play with the other players in the rank and file. Homegrown is good but must be mixed with Euro knighted. Yedling for example should be sold to a Euro team and allowed to show his stuff over there. Eventually we need to get guys of caliber to play for the Champions league teams... the Real Madrids, Man city, Munich etc. The more americans in europe having success the more credibility euro fans/press give u.s. soccer and then more respect given mls and suddenly you turn " euro snob" U.S. fans into Mls fans. It's all about building legitimacy.

  1. C Marshall
    commented on: July 16, 2014 at 11:22 p.m.
    Peter, I disagree with you on mls homegrown program. It is great for player development and all the big clubs around the world do it. These teams invest a lot of time and money to develop players and most don't pan out. If good players always left the club any time a bigger team came waving money there would be no incentive to develop players. Teams invest in the youth programs to help strengthen team in future by developing good players,who will help team or deliver good transfer fees in transfer market. The homegrown players get locked into clubs for a period of time by signing contracts, generally before any other teams know much about them. In the case of Palmer-Brown, another team could get him if they paid Sporting KC enough money. If he went to Juventus he would probably get loaned out for a couple years before he was good enough to be on Juventus 23 man squad.


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