- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On February 29, 2012
- 2 Comments
- 2012 MLS Season, Features, Home Grown Players
In 2010, MLS began opening up the doors for clubs to sign Home Grown Players. Several clubs like FC Dallas, Chivas USA, Toronto FC and DC United all had plenty to offer in terms of young talent that they signed. More clubs followed suit and then the league blew open the doors to allow any number of HGP signings.
All was rosy then with the HGPs. D.C. United midfielder Andy Najar became the first non-draft pick player to win the MLS Rookie of the Year award and many thought the HGPs were here to make their mark on MLS.
But 2011 was not as kind to the HGPs. Only a small number saw action on the field while others mainly saw time in the reserve league or barely any time at all. The number of new signing dwindled as clubs got a little more picky about their process or the league flat out denied the signing of some players due to some players not being in a club’s academy system long enough.
So what does 2012 hold for the HGPs in MLS? With only a couple newbies signed for this year, one can’t expect another ROY winner right away.
Looking at a number of players currently in MLS with the HGP tag to their name, this could be a big make or break year for several of them. We know United will continue to play Najar and keeper Bill Hamid. Juan Agudelo will still get some playing time in New York. But will some fall to the fait of guys like Sacir Hot or Matt Kassel? Again, its a big year.
I look around the league and see players like Ruben Luna and Bryan Leyva in Dallas. Luna lead the MLS Reserve league in goals last season and after a couple full years with the senior club, I really do believe this is finally his year to see a lot of first team action. How he handles it will be key but the kid has the potential to do very well this year.
Then there are guys that are currently stepping up in preseason play like Houston’s Josue Soto and Alex Dixon. Both players could be set for more playing time this season.
Lastly, you then have to look at someone like New England’s Diego Fagundez. He was recently named to ESPN’s 18 under 18 list. You do have to wonder how he’ll fit in new manager Jay Heaps’ roster this year. Just seeing what he could do in a couple matches last year was more than enough to tell me that he has a lot of good potential.
The jury is still a bit out on the whole HGP process but 2012 looks to be a bounce-back type of year for these kids. Some may call 2011 a disappointment in the HGP movement but with teams getting smarter and patient with proper development, this should be a good year.
What do you all think? Will we see more growth in the HGP department in 2012 or will it be more of the same like with what we saw in 2011?