Youth Movement: MLS second teams quickly grow younger

The pace at which MLS teams push young players through their systems accelerates.

Ten teams are the owners or majority owners or otherwise control second teams in the USL Championship, which kicked off last week with 10 teams.

More than 21 percent of the players whom the 10 teams used last week were born 2000 or later, young enough to have eligibility to play in this season's Development Academy.

Sixteen players were 17 years old or younger. Eight are still amateurs playing on USL academy contracts, including U.S. U-17 prospects Kobe Hernandez-Foster (LA Galaxy II) and Griffin Yow (Loudoun United). But most of the teenagers are already pros, having quit or never entered the college ranks.

The median age of four teams was under 21, including the Tacoma Defiance, which fielded a team with a median age of 18.5. The Defiance's core consists of seven academy players whom the parent Seattle Sounders have signed to USL contracts in the last year. Bethlehem Steel, the Philadelphia Union's second team, and Defiance both used nine teenagers.

At least half the players on three teams -- Atlanta United 2, New York Red Bulls II and Portland Timbers II -- were players under contract with the parent MLS team and playing down to get playing time or gain fitness. That included ATLUTD2's Florentin Pogba, Paul Pogba's older brother.

Eight players are on loan from foreign clubs, including four players from Panamanian clubs and two Africans from the Czech Republic's MFK Vyskov.

Atlanta United 2
(2-0 vs. Hartford Athletic)
Makeup: MLS 7, USL pro 5, USL academy 2.
Average age: 21.9. Median age: 20.5.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
30 Ruthven
USL pro
28 Pogba MLS
27 Metcalf USL pro
26 Gallagher MLS
26 Moore MLS
22 Asiedu MLS
21 Luiz Nascimento USL pro
20 Benitez USL pro
20 Vazquez MLS
19 Pereira MLS
17 *Bello MLS (HG)
17 *Campbell USL academy
17 *Conway
USL pro
17 *Vint USL academy
*Born in 2000 or later.

Bethlehem Steel (Philadelphia Union)
(2-0 at Birmingham Legion)
Makeup: MLS 4, USL pro 7, USL academy 3.
Average age: 20.1. Median age: 19.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
32 Chambers
USL pro
25 Przybylko MLS
22 Zandi USL pro
21 Chavany USL pro
20 Freese MLS (HG)
19 Diaz USL pro (on loan from Panama's Tauro)
19 Fontana MLS (HG)
19 Real MLS (HG)
19 *Jamoi USL pro
18 *Ofeimu USL pro
18 *Rayyan USL pro
17 *Cole USL academy
17 *Shanyder USL academy
16 *De Vries USL academy
*Born in 2000 or later.



LA Galaxy II
(1-4 vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks)
Makeup: MLS 1, USL pro 12, USL academy 1.
Average age: 21.4. Median age: 22.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
24 DePuy
USL pro
24 F.Lopez USL pro
23 Ontiveros USL pro
23 Shultz USL pro
22 Acheampong USL pro
22 Jose Hernandez USL pro
22 Tchilao USL pro
22 Vera USL pro
21 Koreniuk USL pro
21 Vom Steeg MLS
21 Williams USL pro
20 Walker USL pro (on loan from Panama's Plaza Amador)
18 *Jorge Hernandez USL pro
16 *Hernandez-Foster USL academy
*Born in 2000 or later.

Loudoun United (D.C. United)
(0-2 at Nashville SC)
Makeup: MLS 3, USL pro 9, USL academy 2.
Average age: 21.4. Median age: 22.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
27 Doue
USL pro
27 Lubahn USL pro
26 Brown USL pro
26 Hawkins USL pro
26 Murphy USL pro
23 Ward MLS
22 Kadono USL pro
22 Pilato USL pro
21 A.Bustamante MLS (HG)
21 Pines MLS  (HG)
20 Presley USL pro
19 S.Bustamante USL pro
19 *Nalerio USL academy
16 *Yow USL academy
*Born in 2000 or later.

NY Red Bulls II
(3-1 vs. Swope Park Rangers)
Makeup: MLS 7, USL pro 7.
Average age: 22.4. Median age: 22.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
26 Valot
MLS
25 Bezecourt MLS
24 Epps MLS
23 Louro MLS (HG)
23 Barlow USL pro
23 Scarlett USL pro
22 Buckmaster USL pro
22 Lema USL pro
22 Nealis MLS
22 Stroud USL pro
21 Elney USL pro
21 Koffi MLS (D.C. United HG)
21 Yanes USL pro
18 *Mines MLS (HG)
*Born in 2000 or later.



Portland Timbers II
(1-1 at Tulsa Roughnecks)
Makeup: MLS 7, USL pro 5.
Average age: 22.5. Median age: 23.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
25 Ornstil
, USL pro
25 Wharton USL pro
24 Jadama, MLS
24 Zambrano MLS
23 Langsdorf MLS (HG)
23 Leeker USL pro
23 Tuiloma MLS
22 Williamson, MLS (D.C. United HG)
21 Loria, MLS
21 Sierakowski USL pro
20 Farfan, MLS (HG)
19 Hanson USL pro

Real Monarchs (Real Salt Lake)
(1-1 at Sac Republic FC)
Makeup: MLS 4, USL pro 10.
Average age: 22.2. Median age: 22.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
27 Chang USL pro
27 Ryden USL pro
26 Toia MLS (HG)
24 Blake USL pro
23 Brody USL pro
23 Kacher USL pro
22 Avila USL pro
22 Holt MLS (HG)
21 Martinez USL pro (on loan from Honduras' Vida)
21 Okumu USL pro
20 Ruiz MLS
19 *Palma USL pro (on loan from Panama's Universitario)
18 *Abate Etoundi USL pro
18 *Ochoa MLS (HG)
*Born in 2000 or later.

Rio Grande Valley (Houston Dynamo)
(0-1 at Tacoma Defiance)
Makeup: USL pro 13, USL academy 1.
Average age: 21.5. Median age: 22.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
24 Arcila USL pro
23 Small USL pro (on loan from Panama's Arabe Unido)
23 B.Willis USL pro
22 Adams USL pro
22 Coronado USL pro
22 Dunwell USL pro
22 Foster USL pro (on loan from Costa Rica's Alajuelense)
22 Rodriguez USL pro
21 I.Martinez USL pro
21 Samuels USL pro
20 Castellanos USL pro
20 Monroy USL pro
18 *W.Cabrera USL academy
*Born in 2000 or later.

Swope Park Rangers (Sporting KC)
(1-3 at NY Red Bulls II)
Makeup: MLS 5, USL pro 9.
Average age: 21.1. Median age: 20.5.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
25 Bilyeu USL pro
24 Dick MLS
24 Vanacore-Decker USL pro
23 Colombie USL pro
23 Smith MLS
22 Segbers USL pro
21 Allach USL pro
20 Alexsander USL pro
20 Hernandez USL pro
20 Ngom Mbekeli USL pro (on loan from Czech Republic's MFK Vyskov)
20 Wan Kamal MLS (HG)
19 Harris USL pro
18 *Lindsey MLS (HG)
16 *Freeman MLS (HG)
*Born in 2000 or later.

Tacoma Defiance (Seattle Sounders)
(1-0 vs. Rio Grande Valley FC)
Makeup: 5 MLS, 9 USL pro,
Average age: 19.4. Median age: 18.5.
--------------------------------------------------------
AGE PLAYER CONTRACT
27 Campbell MLS
25 Abdul-Salaam MLS
22 Nance MLS
22 A.Roldan MLS
20 Hopeau USL pro
19 Muse MLS (HG)
19 *Ndow USL pro (on loan from Czech Republic's MFK Vyskov)
18 *Vargas USL pro
17 *Atencio USL pro
17 *Diaz USL pro
17 *Gonzalez USL pro
17 *Robles USL pro
16 *Ocampo-Chavez USL pro
15 *Leyva USL pro
*Born in 2000 or later.

Photo: Seattle Sounders FC.

2 comments about "Youth Movement: MLS second teams quickly grow younger".
  1. Paul Salo, March 12, 2019 at 1:44 p.m.

    Great research and data concerning the makeup of MLS "second teams" playing in the USL Championship.  Note: I'm pretty sure Matt Nance signed a USL pro contract, which would mean Tacoma Defiance had 4 MLS and 10 USL pro players make an appearance in theiropening game.

  2. Bob Ashpole, March 12, 2019 at 4:37 p.m.

    Very encouraging. I look forward to 10 clubs fielding USL teams to become twice that. Good for MLS and, hopefully, most of these players have US passports.

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