5. Atlanta United:
Starting the list at #5 is the new expansion club Atlanta United. Now, Atlanta has only been around since 2013 and is playing there first season in MLS right now but they have established a great youth academy. GM Carlos Bocanegra has been great establishing Atlanta in their first season as they have great youth players.
Look at the list: Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, Lagos Kunga. Add their new transfers such as Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, Yamil Asad, Greg Garza, Tito Villalba, Julian Gressel and Leandro Gonzalez Perez. They’re all under 25 and are great players for a club. They haven’t really lived up to expectations this season but look out for Atlanta in the future; they can challenge for trophies in the next few years.
4. Philadelphia Union:
Coming in at #4 is the Philadelphia Union. Since their academy opened in 2013, they’ve proved to churn out top talent. As one of the most sustainable academies in MLS, the Union has been able to produce talent such as U20 USMNT players Auston Trusty, Derrick Jones, MLS All-Star Keegan Rosenberry, and MLS SuperDraft picks Adam Najem and Marcus Epps.
Their USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel FC; also give youth players a chance to have first-team playing time. Looking at the current roster, 7 players have signed a 1st-team contract with the Union and 7 came from the academy. The Union can be a force in MLS in the future as more youth players are coming from their academy and are shining.
3. Real Salt Lake:
At #3, it’s Real Salt Lake. RSL have had a poor start to the season having a record of 4-10-2 and a goal difference of -20, the worst in the league. One of the bright spots this season has been their youth. Sebastian Saucedo, Jordan Allen, Justin Glad, Brooks Lennon and Danny Acosta have all came from RSL’s academy.
Thanks to their partnership with Grande Sports Academy, RSL have blossomed into one of the best youth academies in MLS and are building a new $50 million training facility. Currently, it’s been a rough time for RSL but the future is bright for them.
2. LA Galaxy:
At #2, it’s the LA Galaxy, when you’re arguably the best team in MLS history; it’s a necessity to have a great youth system and the Galaxy have established that. The LA Galaxy have made huge achievements in their history including becoming the 1st team to sign a homegrown Player, the 1st to use their USL affiliate and the 1st to integrate a high school system into the academy.
The Galaxy’s best ever prospect is current player and forward Gyasi Zardes who was an MLS All-Star in 2015 and became the first homegrown Players to score in an MLS Cup final (2014). According to Top Drawer Soccer, 9 LA Galaxy players are on 4 of the top-25 best academy prospects list. With their successful youth academy, there are many reasons why the Galaxy has the most MLS Cups with 5.
1. FC Dallas:
Finally at #1 it’s FC Dallas. Do I need to say more; Dallas have become a force in the Western Conference over the past couple of years winning the Supporters’ Shield and US Open Cup in 2016 and went to the semifinals in the CONCACAF Champions League this year. FC Dallas even won the U16 and U18 national titles and became the first team to win in multiple age groups.
FC Dallas have set the standard for producing youth in America as they’ve signed 18 homegrown players and 9 are still on the team’s roster. Some of those players include Jesus Ferriera, Paxton Pomykal, Jessie Gonzalez, Coy Craft, Victor Ulloa, David Texiera and Kellyn Acosta, who is now a regular on the USMNT as prepare for the Gold Cup this summer. Having some of the United States’ best young talent, Dallas can be a force in MLS and even in the CONCACAF Champions League, where no MLS team has ever won it since CONCACAF revamped the tournament in 2008.