MLS Closeup: Galaxy gives 'Made in LA' new meaning

The LA Galaxy has been known for its big stars, David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, but it was also the first MLS team to sign a Homegrown player (Tristan Bowen in 2008) and first MLS team to launch a USL second team (Galaxy II in 2014).

But only now is the Galaxy beginning to enjoy big dividends from its investment in player development.

In Wednesday's 3-1 win at Colorado that moved the Galaxy into fifth place, head coach Curt Onalfo started seven players who were signed as Homegrown players or from Los Dos, the Galaxy's USL team. They've been a big part of the Galaxy's turnaround from a 2-5-0 start.

In all, 13 players who signed as Homegrown players or from Galaxy II have played this season, and they account for 35.7 percent of all the Galaxy's minutes in 2017. Only one other MLS team gives more than a quarter of its minutes to Homegrown or USL signings: New York Red Bulls (27.6 percent).

Galaxy Homegrown Signings:
867 Gyasi Zardes (1 assist)
644 *Nathan Smith
366 *Jack McBean (2 goals, 1 assist)
176 Jose Villarreal (1 assist)
104 *Jaime Villarreal
90 *Hugo Arellano
86 Bradford Jamieson IV (1 assist)
14 Raul Mendiola
*Signed or re-signed from Galaxy II.

Galaxy USL Signings:
1033 Daniel Steres (1 goal)
674 Dave Romney (1 goal, 1 assist)
630 Clement Diop
593 Bradley Diallo
28 Ariel Lassiter

A big part of the Galaxy turnaround has been due to sensational Frenchman Romain Alessandrini, who is having an MVP-caliber first season with eight goals and seven assists, but it would not have survived the slew of injuries that left its starting ranks depleted if its youngsters had not been producing.

Clement Diop, who has reportedly attracted interest from clubs in France, Belgium and Germany, has been starting in goal, while Nathan Smith and Dave Romney started in the back. All three players began their Galaxy careers with Galaxy II.

For the first time in their careers, brothers Jose and Jaime Villarreal started for the Galaxy in an MLS game. It was just Jose's second start in the last two seasons after his career seemed to stall. Younger brother Jaime was starting his first MLS. Jose, 23, had been signed as a Homegrown player in 2012, but Jaime, 21, spent his first three pro seasons in the USL with Los Dos.

Until now, the Galaxy's best Homegrown signing has been Gyasi Zardes, who started on the Galaxy's last MLS championship in 2014 and was a regular on the national team under Jurgen Klinsmann until a foot injury sidelined him for the second half of the 2016 season.

Zardes hasn't scored in 11 games in 2017 but is starting to regain his form. Jack McBean ended an MLS scoring drought that dated back more than four years when he scored the first two goals in the Galaxy's win at Colorado. McBean, who scored in his MLS debut as a 16-year-old in 2011, had lost his MLS contract after not playing in 2014 and 2015, but he earned it back after a strong USL season in 2016. He's been starting recently with forward Giovani dos Santos on national team duty with Mexico.

The common thread for players like Diop, Romney, Smith and Jaime Villarreal, all USL signings, and Jose Villarreal and McBean, who both spent most of last season with Los Dos, is that their coach was Onalfo, which started the Galaxy II program and was promoted to head coach after Bruce Arena left to become national team coach.
1 comment about "MLS Closeup: Galaxy gives 'Made in LA' new meaning".
  1. Daniel Clifton, June 22, 2017 at 8:03 a.m.

    What the Galaxy are doing should be the future of MLS. This will not only help teams that are not from big markets, it will also aid in development for the national team.

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