Written by Will Parchman

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The first MLS Homegrown game in 2014 was a bit of a clunker. It ended 0-0, and the MVP was a goalkeeper named Jon Kempin, who washed out at Sporting KC and is now with the LA Galaxy’s USL team. In fact, the best player on the field that day was on the other sideline, guest playing for the Portland Timbers U23 team. His name was Cristian Roldan.

In that context, the game itself has come a long way. We knew before hand the game featured its most fun MLS roster ever, and Tuesday’s match against Chivas’ title-winning U20 side did not disappoint.

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Written by Will Parchman

glad

It’s good to be an MLS Homegrown these days.

The Homegrown initiative’s picked up steam over the past two years, and an influx of exuberant young coaches are handing over an increasing amount of trust to their youngsters. That’s a good thing, and you need only look at the relative success of the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas the last few years in relation to the amount of Homegrowns they had on the roster. You can scribble down on your crib sheet: “a lot of success and lots of Homegrowns.”

This is my assessment at the current top five Homegrown signings currently in the league at each position. I devised a ranking system that took into account the entire gamut, from past contribution to current ability to future prospects. I weighed the final piece particularly heavily because a significant chunk of these players are still in the U20 age bracket, but each went into the cauldron. And to be sure, it’s still murky when it comes to young guys, most of whom haven’t yet broken into regular first team minutes.

All week on TDS, we’ve been rolling out our top 50 overall young prospects in MLS (you can see the complete up-to-date list here). This cuts across each position.

In any case, enough preamble. Let’s jump into it.

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Written by Will Parchman

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By most global benchmarks, the U.S. Soccer-run Development Academy is still a toddler taking its first precarious steps. When the academy was founded in 2007, there were only 13 MLS teams fronting academies. Considering Chivas USA dissolved as a professional entity last year and will pixelate into nothingness on the academy level in a few months, that means 40 percent of the DA’s MLS academies by the 2015-16 season were founded after the already nascent league played its first match.

So in that sense, we know comparisons with more well-established leagues are tough. Which is why, when we look at MLS academy prospects as a percentage of total MLS rosters here in a second, we won’t be doing a direct comparison to their English Premier League counterpart.

But, as always, we should use a fine-toothed comb to see if things can be better. And they can be better.

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Written by Will Parchman

craft

As you’re no doubt aware, FC Dallas loves its Homegrowns. Before Friday, FCD had signed 11 of them, more than anyone else in the league since Tristan Bowen became the first Homegrown to sign in 2008. But things tended to break up for FCD in the atmosphere. Of their Homegrowns, only Kellyn Acosta has crested 1,400 minutes of total PT in his career, and despite its dedication to signing its kids, FCD is still eighth in the league in total minutes played by Homegrowns. The Rapids have accumulated more, for instance, and they’ve signed four HGs in their history.

But that was under old an old regime. Things have changed under Oscar Pareja, and Coy Craft, who became FCD’s 12th Homegrown on Friday, walks into a seemingly altered atmosphere in Frisco than did his counterparts under Schellas Hyndman. This is a good barometer for the 2014 season.

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Written by Will Parchman

trapp

A new wrinkle in the MLS All-Star weekend this year is the addition of a Homegrown game. It’ll bring together a selection of the league’s top young Homegrown players for a game two days before the All-Star Game proper. Think of it like a Future Stars game from the MLB All-Star weekend.

Now, we know the principles. Here’s the 20-man lineup.

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Written by Travis Clark

ZardesOne of the many oddities about MLS is that on a semi-regular basis, the MLS Players Union releases the salaries of every single player in the league.

And whether or not the numbers listed are accurate, the release of these figures always generates a lot of discussion, and is a fascinating insight into how much (or how little) players in MLS actually make on a yearly basis.

In the light of this, it’s an interesting exercise to extract the salaries of players signed to homegrown contracts (Academy products). Whether players sign directly from the Academy or after a year or more of college, the numbers are of a wide variety.

There are a few notables from this week’s announcement: the reported salary of what former Indiana striker Tommy Thompson makes is third highest among homegrown signings, behind Gyasi Zardesand Will Trapp. Jordan Allen isn’t doing too bad for himself after a season playing at Virginia, while the same can be said for Harrison Shipp, who has looked like well worth his salary so far. New TFC homegrown signing Jordan Hamilton certainly had a solid offer to go to when he decided not to play for Maryland.

For comparison’s sake, here are the salaries of homegrown players from last year. The full list of homegrown player salaries from this week’s report is after the jump.

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