Written by Will Parchman

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Real Salt Lake isn’t exactly hurting for academy cred. The Casa Grande, Arizona-based RSL academy routinely attracts and develops some of the country’s most impressive groupings of talent anywhere. RSL currently has six active Homegrowns in its senior team, a number topped only by FC Dallas’s seven.

And that’s not to mention the yeoman’s work RSL did in shaping academy posterboy Brooks Lennon, who leaped straight from the team’s record-breaking U18 academy side to Liverpool last year.

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Written by Will Parchman

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DeAndre Yedlin’s sale to Tottenham two years ago was maybe the most significant American transfer in history. Hear me out.

Of course, Yedlin was one of the few Americans in MLS history to command a decent chunk of transfer change, and one of even fewer defenders. So there’s that. The $10 million Villarreal paid MLS for Jozy Altidore is still the king of the castle, but Yedlin’s $3.3 fit snugly into the top seven. The fact that he’d been purchased by a club like Tottenham, which finished in Champions League position in Yedlin’s first year in London, only sweetened the pot.

But the attendant domino effect his transfer had on the American soccer landscape was (and is) an even bigger deal. It’s too convoluted a story to get into in depth here, but Yedlin’s youth club Crossfire didn’t get a dime of the FIFA-mandated training compensation portion of the transfer fee, and it took its grievance national. And then the Dallas Texans did the same for former academy product Clint Dempsey. And, just recently, South Florida’s Weston FC did the same for producing newly minted Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Not so long ago, Emmanuel Sabbi’s name disappeared from Akron’s online roster. Sabbi, maybe the most exciting player in the entire 2016 class who hadn’t yet turned pro, appeared to be the cornerstone of Akron’s 2016 recruiting class. And for a time, he was probably the single most talented college-committed player anywhere in the country.

And yet suddenly Sabbi wasn’t there anymore, wasn’t listed on the team’s roster with the rest of the incoming freshmen, wasn’t even with the U20 team at the NTC Invitational in June. Something was happening. We just didn’t know what.

Now we do.

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Written by Will Parchman

roldan

The numbers around him fell as the names rang out in great staccato bursts from the podium. One after another, Larin then Shelton then Alashe then Besler and suddenly what was happening? Was this happening? Could it?

The MLS draft is not a heavily attended event by prospects. There is typically a two-deep line of those uncomfortable metal-ringed convention chairs filled with perhaps 20 or 30 players who showed with the chance of a first round selection. But this is not the NFL. The event is typically broadcast on ESPN2 for perhaps a round, or maybe Univision, or maybe it’s merely an internet stream. It is a big day for these players – the biggest, really – but to deny the relative lack of pomp here would be to deny the event itself exists.

As the sun rose over the freezer-chilled streets of Philadelphia on Jan. 15, 2015, Roldan had more hope than most of going inside the top five. For one, he carried in a Generation adidas tag with him, a guarantee MLS clubs could could use to omit him from their roster count. The fact that Roldan’s class was the smallest in the initiative’s 20-year history – a scant five players – put an even heavier bull’s-eye on each.

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Written by Will Parchman

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It’s the TDS College Goal of the Week. And it’s back.

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Written by Will Parchman

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A quick glimpse at the Stanford midfield right now is a harrowing thing for the Cardinal’s opposition. It is, without a single lingering shadow of doubt, the best midfield in the country. And at the very least it has the most promise as of the start of the 2016 women’s season, which arrives this very day.

Andi Sullivan, one of the three best players in the country at any position, was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2014 class. Jordan DiBiasi and Michelle Xiao were No. 6 and No. 7 in the 2015 class. And Tierna Davidson, the No. 5 player in the 2016 class, just showed up on campus this summer. There isn’t a better freshman holding midfielder in the country, and there maybe hasn’t been one better in some time.

Stanford will probably win the Pac-12 in 2016. And they may win a national title for the second time in program history. At the very least, nobody in the country is better on paper. And barring something odd, all four of those midfielders, each of whom would carry any other team in the country on their own, will be back for the 2017 season. All of them.

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Written by Will Parchman

Haji-Wright

As we already know, Haji Wright is doing things with Schalke’s U19s at the moment. After officially joining the club earlier this year once he hit his 18th birthday, the wispy attacker is already putting in goals against some heady competition. And he’s done it alongside a couple Americans, notably former FC Dallas academy midfielder and U.S. U19 Weston McKennie. He’s expected to finalize his Schalke contract once he turns 18 later this month.

Wright was something of an enigma during the latter part of his tenure with the U17 MNT 2013-15 cycle. Wright popped onto a lot of radars – Schalke’s included – thanks to his Golden Boot performance at the 2013 Nike International Friendlies, a tournament that also helped launch Christian Pulisic to Dortmund.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The words come spilling out like so many marbles, barbed phrases like “unfulfilled promise” and “unfortunate turn of events.” Every time an American player retreats across the Atlantic to refill MLS’s coffers, the darker side of the discussion is inevitable. Most of us simply nod and go about the business of the day.

It is a tricky thing, objectively analyzing a player’s decision to remove themselves from the cement mixer of Europe and return home to MLS. On one hand it does feel somewhat like a vanquished party retreating from the line of battle. To a man, they were in Europe to, as renowned pirate Henry Avery might put it, fulfill their destiny as men of fortune and seek their fortune.

And yet there is also the nagging thought lurking somewhere in the back that perhaps that isn’t all of it. That maybe there can be a victory in retreat.

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Written by Will Parchman

nico

If Steven Gerrard’s truncated half season with the LA Galaxy in 2015 was not a full fledged dumpster fire, then it was something resembling a small blaze in a dirty trash can.

Gerrard was OK in spurts, leaning on his wooden, rickety legs to spray a few incisive passes and amble around the deep woods of the Galaxy midfield in an attempt to find some meaning. He was hardly a disaster, although for $6 million you wonder what you should reasonably expect.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The MLS allocation rule set is strange, fundamentally hard to understand and needlessly convoluted. This is not news. But every time something happens to throw that back into the collective face of the league’s fans, it gets a mite harder to stomach.

This time, it’s over a player. A very good player, in fact. His name is Jeremy Ebobisse, and according to the Washington Post, he’s already signed with MLS.

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