In 2008, MLS created the Homegrown Player rule that allows teams to sign players from their academies directly to their first team. Before the rule players entering MLS had to be assigned to one of MLS’s player allocation processes such as the MLS SuperDraft. Many players have benefited because of this rule and are thriving in the MLS and Europe. Below is the first half of a list of the 10 best MLS youth academies:
10. Seattle Sounders:
Seattle has a rich history of soccer going back to the NASL in the 70’s and 80’s so it’s not a surprise they’re producing top players. RB DeAndre Yedlin, who’s currently playing for newly promoted Newcastle United was the first Homegrown Player in a World Cup(2014).
The Sounders have also produced forward Jordan Morris who won MLS Rookie of the Year in 2016 and helped Seattle win their 1st MLS Cup in the same year. The Sounders aren’t really known as one of the top academies in MLS but they’re not far off the list.
9. Toronto FC:
Toronto didn’t have much success for a long time since they had their inaugural season in 2007 but they’ve really changed their fortunes over the past couple seasons, even getting to the MLS Cup final in 2016. Their academy hasn’t changed over the years as they’ve still been able to produce top talent.
Players like Doneil Henry, Astone Morgan, Jay Chapman, Jordan Hamilton and current rising star Raheem Edwards are some of the examples that have come out of Toronto’s academy. All of them except Henry (He plays for West Ham) still play a huge role in the club as Toronto FC have been hot this season and are sitting atop of the Eastern Conference at the time of this article.
8. New York Red Bulls:
The Red Bulls focus a lot of time of their youth and they have really showed it. Just look at their 1st team: they have 8 Homegrown Players in their 26-man roster, 3rd most in the league.
Their reserve team has had major success with youth as they won the USL Cup in 2016 with current 1st team players such as: Tyler Adams, Aaron Long, Sean Davis, Derrick Etienne, Alex Muyl and Brandon Allen. With their youth players regularly going into USMNT Camps, their academy’s ahead of their metropolitan rivals NYC FC.
7. Sporting Kansas City:
Sporting KC arguably has the fastest growing youth academy in MLS and it shows. In their earlier years they really didn’t have much with their youth players but now thanks to their new talented coaching staff, SKC are now rising as having one of the best youth academies. Their biggest product, Erik Palmer-Brown, recently played in the U-20 World Cup and had a really good performance as the U.S was able to get as far as the Quarterfinals.
They also have 17-year-old forward Josh Sargent, who played in the World Cup scoring 4 goals in 5 appearances. He tied the record for the most goals in a U-20 World Cup joining Eddie Johnson, Jozy Altidore and Taylor Twellman. With the talent they’ve produced, it won’t be a surprise if SKC’s young academy moves up the list in years to come.
6. Vancouver Whitecaps:
Traveling is important in youth academies as families usually don’t like to travel too much for their families’ sake. The Whitecaps are the most effective host family system in MLS and there’s no disagreement to that statement. They have 15 regional training centers thanks to partnerships.
Vancouver has been able to produce talent such as Russell Teibert, Sam Adkugbe, and wonder-kid Alphonso Davies who yesterday just officially became a Canadian citizen and is eligible to play for the Canada National Team so congrats to him. With their huge commitment to their youth, it’s no surprise the amazing development to the Whitecaps’ youth players.