Whether it’s a coincidence or not I can’t say but New England’s announcement of the signing of 15 year-old Diego Fagundez couldn’t have more relevant timing as today’s edition of ExtraTime Radio featured the revelation that a measure lifting the restrictions on the number of Home Grown Players a team is allowed to sign is likely to be passed by the Board of Governors this week. According to MLS VP of Competition and Player Relations Todd Durbin teams will no longer be limited to adding only 4 players each year to their Senior or Developmental rosters.
So after doubling the limit at the beginning of this year it seems that the training wheels are well and truly off now. And thank God. The upside to the development, signing and eventual sale of home grown talent is multifaceted and (to me at least) shows a real, logical progression in the way MLS goes about filling the talent pool. No longer will the SuperDraft, intra-league trades and the international market be the main veins to supply new blood to the league. And no longer will elite, expensive travel teams & OPD academies be alone at the top of the youth development heap.
With this move teams like D.C. United, Real Salt Lake and Red Bull New York will be able to truly reap the rewards of their significant investment at the youth levels. And if you are a talented 15 or 16 year-old kid (or their parents), you can look at Juan Agudelo and know that through MLS it is possible (however unlikely) to go from the academy to the developmental team to first team to the national team.
This news is sure to delight more than a handful of observers and organizations around MLS particularly clubs like the Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Dallas who are making real strides in terms of residency and education in their academy programs. Hopefully their counterparts who haven’t been so inclined to invest heavily in their own academies will now see that their is a greater payoff for their investment and be incited to do so.