Curb Your Enthusiasm: US Youth National Teams, Prospect Hype, and Youth Development Thread [The DA is DEAD updates]

67YAZ

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I’ll have to check the podcast. The more arcane the podcast I can put on in living room, the more likely the kids are to flee to their rooms to read. Win-win.

Re: a U19 DA tier - isn’t this where the NCAA should come in? If a kid isn’t on a USL or MLS contract by then, isn’t the NCAA a reasonable path? And if he’s a late-bloomer, there’s still many pathways back into MLS.
 

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I’ll have to check the podcast. The more arcane the podcast I can put on in living room, the more likely the kids are to flee to their rooms to read. Win-win.
Their podcast is part of the Total Soccer Show's podcast feed. I think TSS is helping them produce it.

Re: a U19 DA tier - isn’t this where the NCAA should come in? If a kid isn’t on a USL or MLS contract by then, isn’t the NCAA a reasonable path? And if he’s a late-bloomer, there’s still many pathways back into MLS.
Hmm, that doesn't quite work (under current rules, anyway) because most players age out of the U17 level as their enter their senior year of HS, leaving them with a one year gap before they could play NCAA soccer.

They could try to fiddle with the age cutoffs to make it work, I suppose. As long as all HS-aged players are eligible for this league, I don't really care what they call the divisions or how they configure the cutoffs!
 

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Titans Bastard

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IIRC, Torres is with the first team in Orlando and may end up being the first '04 to play in MLS if he gets into a game.
There's definitely a bit more opportunity with Vela staying home, even there are probably still six attackers ahead of him (without Vela) for three slots. Plus, there's more opportunity for all young players given the five-sub rule.
 

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SKC signs a well-regarded 17 year old attacking midfielder to a USL deal.

https://www.sportingkc.com/post/2020/07/14/sporting-kansas-city-ii-signs-17-year-old-midfielder-bailey-sparks
There are lots of MLS teams signing prospects to USL deals these days. Frankly, it's getting harder and harder to keep track of it all! There are certainly a lot more signings than I've been posting here.

This one interests me because it's a sign of the times, and it's putting more and more pressure on some archaic and bureaucratic MLS rules. Sparks is from Dallas and previously played for a prominent club called Solar. MLS has ruled in the past that you can't sign kids from other clubs' markets, but technically SKC isn't signing him; SKC II is signing him and MLS rules don't apply to USL rosters. So now Sparks is on the books with SKC II and things will get tricky if/when they want to promote him to the MLS roster. What MLS should do is just get rid of homegrown territory rules and let all clubs recruit anywhere they want, but as it stands now I guess MLS would require SKC to send compensation to FC Dallas for the rights to a player who never had anything to do with FC Dallas.

There are a few other similarly-aged kids who could also be test cases for this situation, like Caden Clark (NYRB II / Minneapolis) and Jack McGlynn (Philly Union II / NYC)
 

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SKC signs a well-regarded 17 year old attacking midfielder to a USL deal.

https://www.sportingkc.com/post/2020/07/14/sporting-kansas-city-ii-signs-17-year-old-midfielder-bailey-sparks
There are lots of MLS teams signing prospects to USL deals these days. Frankly, it's getting harder and harder to keep track of it all! There are certainly a lot more signings than I've been posting here.

This one interests me because it's a sign of the times, and it's putting more and more pressure on some archaic and bureaucratic MLS rules. Sparks is from Dallas and previously played for a prominent club called Solar. MLS has ruled in the past that you can't sign kids from other clubs' markets, but technically SKC isn't signing him; SKC II is signing him and MLS rules don't apply to USL rosters. So now Sparks is on the books with SKC II and things will get tricky if/when they want to promote him to the MLS roster. What MLS should do is just get rid of homegrown territory rules and let all clubs recruit anywhere they want, but as it stands now I guess MLS would require SKC to send compensation to FC Dallas for the rights to a player who never had anything to do with FC Dallas.

There are a few other similarly-aged kids who could also be test cases for this situation, like Caden Clark (NYRB II / Minneapolis) and Jack McGlynn (Philly Union II / NYC)
After all that, I realized that I misread the press release and Sparks only signed a "USL Academy Contract" which means he's not on pro terms. But I'm sure SKC will be trying to lock him down soon enough!

Anyway, Orlando signed a 17 year old defender today:

https://www.orlandocitysc.com/post/2020/07/15/orlando-city-sc-signs-defender-michael-halliday-homegrown-contract
 

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Philadelphia signed Nathan Harriel '01 to a USL deal for 2020 and an MLS deal starting in 2021. He played more minutes in USL last year as an amateur than any other player. They probably would have signed him a bit sooner, but it's another example of dumb MLS homegrown territory rules. Harriel is from Tampa, which is Orlando City's homegrown catchment area. Even though Harriel had nothing to do with the Orlando City academy, Philly had to pay off OCSC with a first round draft pick.

Kill the homegrown territory rules!!!

Anyway, another interesting right back prospect in the mix.

https://www.philadelphiaunion.com/post/2020/07/17/philadelphia-union-sign-defender-nathan-harriel-homegrown-contract
 

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Philadelphia hasn't used a first round pick since 2016 and hasn't used any SuperDraft picks in the last two years, not sure what the thinking is there.
 

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Philadelphia hasn't used a first round pick since 2016 and hasn't used any SuperDraft picks in the last two years, not sure what the thinking is there.
Philly is all-in on their academy and their GM Ernst Tanner couldn't possibly care less about the draft. All their picks get sent away as trading chits in situations like these. Of course, if they were able to sign Harriel without having to compensate Orlando for the fact that Harriel grew up in Tampa, they'd be able to use this trading chit for something else.

FC Dallas is still the leader on the academy front, but Philly is up there at this point. Auston Trusty's stock has fizzled — he lost his job, got traded to Colorado, and is still benched — but Aaronson and McKenzie look like sellable assets and they have some interesting players in the pipeline who are a bit younger as well.
 

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Philadelphia signed an '03 midfielder, Jack McGlynn, to a homegrown contract beginning in 2021. He's been featuring regularly for their reserve team in USL already while on a USL contract, and no doubt will continue to do so. Interestingly (well, to me) he's from Queens and moved to the Union from a non-MLS academy in NYC recently. In situations like these in the past, teams have been blocked from signing players from the "homegrown territory" of other clubs even if they weren't part of an MLS academy. Glad there's no red tape here.

https://www.philadelphiaunion.com/post/2020/08/17/philadelphia-union-sign-jack-mcglynn-homegrown-player-contract
 

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Philadelphia signed an '03 midfielder, Jack McGlynn, to a homegrown contract beginning in 2021. He's been featuring regularly for their reserve team in USL already while on a USL contract, and no doubt will continue to do so. Interestingly (well, to me) he's from Queens and moved to the Union from a non-MLS academy in NYC recently. In situations like these in the past, teams have been blocked from signing players from the "homegrown territory" of other clubs even if they weren't part of an MLS academy. Glad there's no red tape here.
From Middle Village - about as 'hood as Queens gets without being public housing.

That youth club is BW Gottschee, one of the oldest and biggest soccer clubs in NYC (1951), other than the AYSO leagues. I've contended with them for field permits before. Nice guys, definitely super professional organization, and runs feeder programs all over the city for their travel teams. If I'm not mistaken, they're the same club that Tim Weah was a part of before moving to NYRB academy. A quick glance at their website shows them placing players into a bunch of domestic and international pro academies. Maybe they've just forged a peace with NYRB / NYCFC by supplying some profitable talent over the years.
 

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Philadelphia signed an '03 midfielder, Jack McGlynn, to a homegrown contract beginning in 2021. He's been featuring regularly for their reserve team in USL already while on a USL contract, and no doubt will continue to do so. Interestingly (well, to me) he's from Queens and moved to the Union from a non-MLS academy in NYC recently. In situations like these in the past, teams have been blocked from signing players from the "homegrown territory" of other clubs even if they weren't part of an MLS academy. Glad there's no red tape here.

https://www.philadelphiaunion.com/post/2020/08/17/philadelphia-union-sign-jack-mcglynn-homegrown-player-contract
Philly signs another '03. It's Brenden Aaronson's little brother Paxten, and like CM Jack McGlynn '03 and RB Nathan Harriel '01, his MLS contract kicks in for the 2021 season. Paxten is billed as a somewhat more attacking version of Brenden, who is more of a 8/10 hybrid than a true attacker. I've heard that he's a better prospect than Brenden and I've also heard that he's a worse prospect than Brenden, so [*shrug emoji*].

Philly's been leaning into an identity as a club that focuses on youth and the the density of talent in the age cohorts coming through now feels a bit stronger. The elder Aaronson and McKenzie may well be sold before the 2021 season, but they'll still have eight (and counting) academy products under contract for next season.

For now, B. Aaronson and McKenzie are the MLS starters from their academy, which is solid but not earth-shattering. We'll see if they can expand on that over the next few years.

https://www.philadelphiaunion.com/post/2020/08/19/philadelphia-union-sign-academy-product-paxten-aaronson-homegrown-player-contract
 

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Philly signs another '03. It's Brenden Aaronson's little brother Paxten, and like CM Jack McGlynn '03 and RB Nathan Harriel '01, his MLS contract kicks in for the 2021 season. Paxten is billed as a somewhat more attacking version of Brenden, who is more of a 8/10 hybrid than a true attacker. I've heard that he's a better prospect than Brenden and I've also heard that he's a worse prospect than Brenden, so [*shrug emoji*].

Philly's been leaning into an identity as a club that focuses on youth and the the density of talent in the age cohorts coming through now feels a bit stronger. The elder Aaronson and McKenzie may well be sold before the 2021 season, but they'll still have eight (and counting) academy products under contract for next season.

For now, B. Aaronson and McKenzie are the MLS starters from their academy, which is solid but not earth-shattering. We'll see if they can expand on that over the next few years.

https://www.philadelphiaunion.com/post/2020/08/19/philadelphia-union-sign-academy-product-paxten-aaronson-homegrown-player-contract
I've heard similar divergent opinions here locally. I guess that's 16 year olds.....probably depends on the day you watched them. There is also a younger sister (Jaden) who is apparently quite good.
 

Titans Bastard

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I've heard similar divergent opinions here locally. I guess that's 16 year olds.....probably depends on the day you watched them. There is also a younger sister (Jaden) who is apparently quite good.
Here's a vote in favor, from a guy whose opinion I hold in high regard:

View: https://twitter.com/_Susaeta/status/1296249196752715778


Susaeta
@_Susaeta


Finally watched a good bit of Paxten Aaronson. I know I’m late to this party, but the kid has potential to be special. Plays so fast, which is exactly what you want from an aggressive young 10. It means more mistakes right now, but it pays off long-term.

8:54pm · 19 Aug 2020
 

Titans Bastard

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TB -

what are you hoping to see as markers of success/optimism that we don’t already know about the MLS DA?
I'm curious to see the finalized list of clubs (I'm really glad that they are being inclusive and no going MLS-only). I'd like to know what age groups they will establish for the league. And I guess I'd like to hear their general tone and what they choose to emphasize.
 

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7 minutes late to start so far. Who do they think they are, the President?

edit: Don Garber appears to live in an insane asylum or an Apple store.
 

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I love how they pretend by saying "you can participate too, just join in on the chat on this video!". The youtube chat makes the comments on political articles look measured and mature.
 

Titans Bastard

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You guys are really showing a lot of commitment by actually watching this stuff. I have it in the background and mostly it's fluff/propaganda about a few success stories like Adams and Davies.

Heath Pearce sighting in the chat!

The DA was just starting to generate a larger mass of quality players that we're seeing filter through MLS reserve teams in the USL and on to MLS right now, so please just tell me you won't screw this up, thx.
 

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Yeah I had to turn it off. I was expecting to be walked through a corporate powerpoint that talked about league structure, a progression or career path, funding, transfers, and how they'll fight to stop pay-to-play. This rah-rah personal story stuff is like the Olympic bio-pic fluff videos, ain't nobody got time for that.

edit: residency, nutrition, COACHING, dear god where are we going to get world-class youth coaches when most youth coaching today is done by "whoever's dad can leave work early on thursdays"? I mean FFS, if any of the adults on this call have spent any time in a proper european academy, they'd likely be too embarrassed to continue the call.
 
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Titans Bastard

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Yeah I had to turn it off. I was expecting to be walked through a corporate powerpoint that talked about league structure, a progression or career path, funding, transfers, and how they'll fight to stop pay-to-play. This rah-rah personal story stuff is like the Olympic bio-pic fluff videos, ain't nobody got time for that.
Took a shower, came back, they're still doing it. TBF, I guess the main audience for this video is actual youth players & parents, but still. Let's get to some substance!!
 

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So in the end, it was all just a hype video for parents & players, and they announced the branding: MLS Next.

The plan is to run U19, U17, U16, U15, U14, and U13 leagues. My understanding is that some MLS clubs won't be running U19 leagues because they plan to push all the promising kids in that age bracket into USL. IMO, I think that could be short-sighted — a good way to challenge your best talents is to play them up an age bracket and I think the U19 league would be a useful tool for your good U17s. Plus, it gives kids who aged out of the U17 league but who aren't ready for USL a place to play before they go to college in case they are late bloomers as prospects.

Hopefully league membership grows over time. It's reasonably robust given the short turn-around time after the dissolution of the FA and the fact that many clubs went back to the ECNL. But it would be nice to fill in some of the gaps, represent more cities, and reduce travel.
 

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Update on training compensation and solidarity payments.

The short version: MLS clubs have recouped a small amount of money so far, non-MLS youth clubs are having a hard time getting their cut of a player's TC/SP because of a bad USSF record-keeping system, and there's no update on MLS clubs potentially paying TC for domestic players.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/major-league-soccer/story/4146199/why-are-mls-clubs-getting-paid-for-us-talent-going-to-europe-but-not-the-youth-teams-that-played-a-part-in-their-development
 

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A couple of signings of young players:

GK Luca Lewis '01 signed with NYRB II after a stint with Torino.

https://www.newyorkredbulls.com/post/2020/09/22/new-york-red-bulls-ii-sign-goalkeeper-luca-lewis
Winger Bode Davis '02 signed a homegrown contract with RSL effective in 2021. He signed a USL deal just a couple of months ago.

https://www.rsl.com/post/2020/09/22/real-salt-lake-signs-bode-davis-2021
Is it prospect snobbery to be uninterested in a HG deal for an 18 year old? I’d tend to think these days that the best prospects are signing HG deals at ages 15-17, otherwise they go to Europe. I guess you get the occasional Tessman exception but if they didn’t ID a kid as HG worthy until this age, I guess I implicitly rate them lower.
 

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Sounds good to me.

I'm not even mad about the usual MLS end of season/midseason nonsense. I believe the Austrian Bundesliga takes one of those long January breaks as the German one does, Aaronson is getting good reps now, and RB Salzburg are constantly pillaged for talent so it's not like they'll have a settled squad he can't break into and get minutes if he's good enough.
 

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Is it prospect snobbery to be uninterested in a HG deal for an 18 year old? I’d tend to think these days that the best prospects are signing HG deals at ages 15-17, otherwise they go to Europe. I guess you get the occasional Tessman exception but if they didn’t ID a kid as HG worthy until this age, I guess I implicitly rate them lower.
I think that is often the case, but I wouldn't use it as a hard-and-fast rule. Some players really zoom up prospect rankings at age ~17-18, and others are in organizations that tend to not sign super young players as often. As far as Bode Davis goes, I'm not sure he's a top-end prospect. I do, however, guarantee I will refer to him as "Bode Miller" by accident at some point.


Sounds good to me.

I'm not even mad about the usual MLS end of season/midseason nonsense. I believe the Austrian Bundesliga takes one of those long January breaks as the German one does, Aaronson is getting good reps now, and RB Salzburg are constantly pillaged for talent so it's not like they'll have a settled squad he can't break into and get minutes if he's good enough.
I think it is a fair compromise. Philadelphia is saying and doing all the right things about developing players and being reasonable about letting them go when the time comes. However, they also have a mandate to win and they're contenders this season. Letting Aaronson go right now would be a huge problem for their squad; they'd have to find a replacement, negotiate the transfer & salary, wait for the visa, quarantine him, integrate him with the squad, and then hope he hits the ground running immediately. It's just not that realistic.

I suspect we'll see a larger number of "sold in the summer for the winter transfer window" type deals in the future.
 

Titans Bastard

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@Quintanariffic I gave this a bit more thought when I was driving this afternoon and I realized that Brenden Aaronson himself is someone who signed his first pro contract a little "late" by modern elite US pro prospect standards. He was one month shy of his 18th birthday when he signed, but the contract wasn't effective until the 2019 season, which began when he was about 18.5 years old. He'll turn 20 in one month's time.

Aaronson has spoken a lot about he was seriously undersized relative to his peers through much of his youth career. Players who achieve elite physicality by adult standards relatively early will always advance further in their careers in the age 17-18 range than guys who are slower developing. Alphonso Davies was clowning on MLS defenders when he was 16.

Aaronson's teammate Mark McKenzie, who some argue is a better prospect than Brenden (IDK! We'll see), was first signed for his age 19 season after he spent one year at Wake Forest. But I also believe that if Mark McKenzie had come through the Philly system five years later, he probably would have signed at a younger age and never played in college.

It's hard to establish clear benchmarks when the environment is evolving at a rapid pace.


In any case, what's most heartening is not just that the top of the talent pyramid has suddenly gotten better, but that the second and third tiers of the talent pyramid have gotten much broader at the same time. That suggests to me that we don't just have a fluke moment where we happened to hit the jackpot with a few prospects, but that there's been a substantive and sustainable improvement in the pipeline of talent and in the developmental pathway. These guys who aren't selected in the first wave of HGP contracts in the age 15-17 bracket are, on the whole, less likely to develop into elite players but we have so many lottery tickets in that category that it seems more likely than not that a few of them will surprise us.
 

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The latest signing from the FC Dallas academy is Justin Che '03:

https://www.fcdallas.com/post/2020/10/02/fc-dallas-signs-academy-product-justin-che

Reggie Cannon was sold, Bryan Reynolds was signed to a new, surprisingly big contract and inserted into the lineup as Cannon's replacement, and which in turn opened up a roster slot for Che.

Che has played some RB, but is mostly a CB. He's been a regular for North Texas SC this year, which is FCD's team in USL League One. The Hedges-Ziegler pairing at CB is very well established, but Ziegler is 34 and won't be around all that much longer.
 

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NYRB signed Caden Clark '03 to an MLS deal earlier today. And then he started against Atlanta and has already scored in the game!

https://www.newyorkredbulls.com/post/2020/10/10/new-york-red-bulls-sign-17-year-old-caden-clark-mls-contract
Clark is originally from the Minneapolis area, but left for for the Barça Residency Academy program in Arizona, and was eventually recruited by NYRB. Due to insane, byzantine MLS rules, Minnesota United held his rights even though he never played for them and left MN before they even had youth teams that he could have joined. There were rumors that MNU were holding out for stupid ransom money, but perhaps the league office told them to knock it off, because $75k GAM is the roughly the going rate when some club has squatters' (MLS) rights on a given player.

Please kill the homegrown territory rules now.

Anyway, Clark is an attacking midfielder who is one of the most well-regarded players of his year, and has played extensively for NYRB II in USL this year. He's one of many members of a potentially strong emerging '03 class.
 

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FC Cincinnati signed their first academy player, and '03 goalkeeper with the distinguished name of Beckham Sunderland.

https://www.fccincinnati.com/post/2020/10/14/fc-cincinnati-sign-goalkeeper-beckham-sunderland-homegrown-player
He's actually only been with them for a year, and previously played for Portland and Chicago. His dad is FCC's academy director, and all his organizational moves have paralleled his dad's career.

I don't recall hearing anything about him as a prospect before, but there aren't as many eyes on relatively barren academies like Portland and Cincinnati.
 

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FC Cincinnati signed their first academy player, and '03 goalkeeper with the distinguished name of Beckham Sunderland.

https://www.fccincinnati.com/post/2020/10/14/fc-cincinnati-sign-goalkeeper-beckham-sunderland-homegrown-player
He's actually only been with them for a year, and previously played for Portland and Chicago. His dad is FCC's academy director, and all his organizational moves have paralleled his dad's career.

I don't recall hearing anything about him as a prospect before, but there aren't as many eyes on relatively barren academies like Portland and Cincinnati.
He's Sunderland 'till he dies, I guess.
 

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The Timbers signed an '02 GK from their academy who they recruited from Anchorage a few years ago. He's the only male pro from Alaska.

https://www.timbers.com/post/2020/11/11/timbers-sign-18-year-old-goalkeeper-hunter-sulte-homegrown-player
The Philadelphia Union academy conveyor belt keeps on trucking. They now have quite a few academy products from 01-04 under contract and it will be interesting to see who among that group can move into first team contributor status in 2021.

https://www.philadelphiaunion.com/post/2020/11/12/philadelphia-union-sign-academy-products-brandan-craig-and-quinn-sullivan-homegrown
 

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Atlanta signs an academy forward who gets the bump up from a USL contract. Conway had a nice run for Atlanta United 2 last year, with six goals in ~700 minutes.

I think he has a shot at the 2021 U20 World Cup squad (if the tournament even happens). I don't think there are many heavyweight forward prospects in the 2001 and 2002 classes, and instead it appears that we have a large collection of decent ones. For now, the top up-and-comers appear to be our many '00 prospects and Ricardo Pepi '03. But you never know if you'll get a breakout.

https://www.atlutd.com/post/2020/12/03/atlanta-united-signs-jackson-conway-homegrown-player
 

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For a new club, Miami was able to assemble an academy with actual talent pretty quickly. Their USL League One team last year was very young and as such didn't do too well on the field, but I think they'll get some first team players out of the group.

Goff reports that Andre Zuluaga '03 is signing a pro deal with their USL team, turning down lower-division interest in Spain.

View: https://twitter.com/SoccerInsider/status/1336085135893082116
 

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Miami signed an academy player to an MLS deal for the first time: Felipe Valencia '05, a winger. Valencia played quite a bit for their USL League One team last year at a very young age, and had some nice moments. I'd guess he has a lot more USL in his future for 2021 and after that, we'll see. In 2020, only similarly aged players ('04s) saw the field (LAFC's Christian Torres and Erik Duenas), which is normal. 16 year olds don't play much first team soccer in any league in the world.
 

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FIFA announced today that the 2021 U20 and U17 World Cups have been canceled. Very unfortunate for these players, but that's life these days.
 

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FIFA announced today that the 2021 U20 and U17 World Cups have been canceled. Very unfortunate for these players, but that's life these days.
There's not much money in them so it makes sense, but I am still shocked that any soccer governing body actually looked at the obvious problem of way too much soccer crammed into the catch-up calendar and decided to cancel some of their soccer.