Each year Major League Soccer is growing not just on and off the field but in how they grow their own talent. Academies are getting to the point where they are producing quality talent each season soon enough MLS teams will be able to take full advantage of a younger player in their every day lineup.
We’ve seen some success so far in the Homegrown movement. Andy Najar is the obvious best example. In his rookie season with D.C. United, the Honduran midfielder earned the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He was the first Homegrown to win the award and to this day remains the only one to as well. Najar was also recently the first Homegrown player to get transferred overseas.
This winter several MLS squads made Homegrown signings. Dallas, Columbus and New York each signed a couple of their own in hopes that they have the next best young start.
So who are these Homegrown players? Here is a good list of who you should be expecting to get some playing time in 2013.
(*- I’m not covering every HGP that has signed this offseason, but if you feel I missed your guy, write about him below!)
Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids) – One of a few Akron players on this list, Serna will have to battle his way into Oscar Pareja’s lineup. He’s a quality young attacker that given the right amount of playing time will develop into a quality player.
Preseason minutes: GS 1, GP 3 (COL played 8 preseason games), 2 goals in scrimmage against the Colorado Foxes
London Woodberry (FC Dallas) – Another guy that will have to battle for PT in his rookie year. The former Maryland center back brings some versatility to Schellas Hyndman’s roster. He will likely see more time at fullback rather than in the middle to start out with until he bulks up. But don’t be surprised if within a year you’ll see his name on a starting XI more.
Preseason minutes: GS 2, GP 7 (FCD played 7 preseason games)
Bradlee Baladez (FC Dallas) – Some were shocked with Baladez signed early back in December with FC Dallas but believe me this kid has the talent and the desire to do well in this league. He has three big strikers ahead of him in the depth chart but he’ll get his chances before long, you can bet on that.
Preseason minutes: GS 1, GP 6 (FCD played 7 preseason games), 3 goals scored
Chad Barson (Columbus Crew) – If there is one defender that could see some good minutes this year, it may be Barson. He has good size and a guy in Chad Marshall to learn from. Not many young defenders can say that.
Preseason minutes: GS 2, GP 6 (CLB played 7 preseason games *Did not count Urso Memorial Game*)
Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew) – Right now the Crew’s midfield is a little tight but I like Trapp’s chances to break in the lineup early this season. If he shows well early on, I think he could also be a dark horse ROY candidate.
Preseason minutes: GS 0, GP 3 (CLB played 7 preseason games *Did not count Urso Memorial Game*)
Bryan Salazar (Houston Dynamo) – The Neymar looking kid for the Dynamo just recently signed his professional deal. I don’t think he’ll get a ton of minutes but look for him in some USOC and CCL games later this year. He has some serious talent and he isn’t afraid to show up some older players too.
Preseason minutes: GS 0, GP 0 (HOU played 11 preseason games)
Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy) – Most will consider him a front runner for ROY out of the gate, and for good reason. With Landon Donovan not slated to return until possibly April, Zardes has some time to prove his work and hype. Look for him to do some serious work this season for the Galaxy.
*Zardes is out for a little while after having foot surgery.
Preseason minutes: GS 0, GP 2 (LA played 11 preseason games)
Scott Caldwell (New England Revolution) – Another dark horse ROY candidate from Akron. Caldwell has serious talent and has shown pretty well in the preseason for Jay Heaps. If he can bust through a crowded midfield, he has the potential to be a real special player in MLS.
Preseason minutes: GS 0, GP 4 (NE played 6 preseason games *there may be some scrimmages missing from this*)
DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders) – He’s young, got maybe another year to really prove himself but so far the preseason returns on this guy are that he can play. He’s an outside back and I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we see him in the regular day lineup for the Sounders.
Preseason minutes: GS 1, GP 5 (SEA played 6 preseason games *there may be some scrimmages missing from this*)
Kellyn Acotsa (FC Dallas) – I am throwing one more FCD guy in this list not to be a homer or anything but because he signed so late last year that this should technically be his rookie year. Acosta is another versatile player and at 17, he has many good years ahead of him.
Preseason minutes: GS 0, GP 4 (FCD played 7 preseason games)