Written by Will Parchman

usl

By almost any measurement, Dave Romney backed into professional soccer via a muddled road map indistinguishable to anyone else.

After graduating from the University of San Francisco in 2014, Romney was out of soccer entirely until finding his way to the LA Galaxy II roster in time for the 2015 season. Romney impressed for the Galaxy’s USL side, so much so that, on July 25, 2015 he became something of a novelty in the annals of the recent link between USL and MLS.

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Written by Will Parchman

gyan

When Xi Jinping ascended to the Chinese presidency in 2012, he essentially became the nation’s first soccer president. He almost immediately issued mandates for the national soccer initiative, establishing soccer programming in thousands of schools and setting an eventual baseline that included winning a World Cup.

It looked funky as hell at the time, and there’s no guarantee this makes this national team any better. But at least on a club level, things are crystallizing at a rate few thought possible. China is stepping into a decisively prominent role in global soccer, and no one is quite sure what it means yet.

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Written by Will Parchman

This is just silly good.

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Written by Will Parchman

yolo

Robert Earnshaw’s been at this soccer thing for a minute. As of today, that’s all over. Earnshaw is retiring.

The Welshman began his career with a six-year stint with Cardiff, but when he left he turned into the definition of a journeyman. There were a staggering 11 clubs in 10 years, including six in the UK, one in Israel for 10 games (!), and three in MLS. He spent the final year of his career with the Whitecaps, and he’ll now be helping with the academy and the strikers.

Earnshaw’s always been a serviceable forward for the right price, but he managed just 18 total goals in the last five years of his career. And, importantly, he produced the single greatest free kick of all time.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The 2015 season snapped shut on the Colorado Rapids like a rabid dog closing his jaws around a ragged piece of dumpster meat.

MLS titled its final regular season match day ‘Decision Day,’ aligning every Eastern Conference and Western Conference game to go off at the same time. In practice, this created a decidedly intriguing finale as teams flipped into and out of playoff seeds throughout the course of the day.

One team that had nothing to decide was Colorado. The Rapids were picking crumbs off the floor of the Western Conference basement before the day began, and a limp 4-1 loss to eventual champion Portland on Oct. 26 brought their season to a merciful conclusion. The poor dog had been run over.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The fanfare surrounding Jordan Morris’s decision to sign with the Sounders was visible from space (probably).

Think what you will of how it was handled, but the Morris deal kicked the Homegrown initiative into a new stratosphere. Oh, young players will still sign (at times) anonymously, and the flame-out rate will still hover somewhere between 60-70 percent, but Morris gave it more cachet than it’s ever had. If you don’t think young players find value in the spectacle, visit a couple high school gyms on college football signing day and see what happens.

Today, we split our focus to the past, present and future. We’ll look at the top five Homegrown prospects, and our caveat is they can’t have yet played for the first team. And then we’ll move to the top five of all time, a list on which I have omitted Morris for the sake of our sanity.

Here we go.

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Written by Will Parchman

jmo

Jordan Morris cleared the final step to the showroom floor at Seattle’s The Ninety and the flashbulbs popped and crackled like fireworks. Flanked by Adrian Hanauer, Garth Lagerwey, Sigi Schmid and Chris Henderson – the club’s most visible and influential decision makers in matters of player personnel – Morris sheepishly walked to the middle seat of the dais.

Morris, wearing a blazer and a button-down shirt and facing a packed room of about 100 people, settled into his seat and readied to hear the announcement he’d been waiting to hear for years. The kid who’d been in the stands for Seattle’s first ever MLS game in 2009 almost couldn’t believe he was here at all.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Morris said.

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Written by Will Parchman

JK

Something something American at a German club something something explosion.

At the same time Christian Pulisic’s been ripping through Borussia Dortmund’s midwinter hibernation in the Middle East, Jordan Morris took a post-national championship leave to trial at Werder Bremen for a spell. That latter piece of information is indirectly at the center of a cold war between U.S. Soccer and at least one MLS owner that seems to be turning hot, but we’ll breach that wall in a moment.

First, though, Pulisic and Morris. The Wonder Twins activated this week.

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Written by Will Parchman

superd

The MLS SuperDraft, hyperbolic name and all, was formed out of the gnarled latticework of the College Draft and the Supplemental Draft in 2000. At the time, with no Development Academy, a virtually nonexistent lower tier and a network of feeder clubs more scattered than ever, there was a sort of kingly dignity afforded to the draft.

It may have only thrown up pale shadows on the developmental wall, but like Plato’s interlocutor in a darkened cave, if those shadows are all you see, who’s to say the real thing projecting them from behind your back even exists? The shadows are real because they are what you see.

Even still, the draft made sense in 2000, and 2005, and maybe even 2007 and 2008. Until 2009 there was no such word as Homegrown in MLS, and until two years earlier MLS clubs didn’t even have direct academies. We take those facts for granted now – that FC Dallas churns out U.S. youth national team players like Coors turns out light beer – but it was not so long ago that these were ideas twisting in wind.

The new CBA introduced the inkling of free agency, and future CBAs will expand on it, surely if slowly. To lean on Nolan’s Inception, once an idea is implanted (read: implemented) it is almost impossible to eradicate. And I would go a step further and remove almost from the equation entirely. On the ground level, closed society trends toward freedom.

Whether they are allowed it by those in power is one matter, but the germ grows in strength exponentially once the idea is introduced.

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Written by Will Parchman

slip1

Oh yes. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Steven Gerrard was objectively bad for the Galaxy last year. While he started promisingly, he was a meandering wreck for the Galaxy’s back half of the season, wandering in and out of possession, lifting bored long balls to no one and generally not doing much of anything.

The old Gerrard is clearly there, somewhere, but he’s been washed out by the white noise of boredom, age and a faltering set of skills that leaves him somewhere above broken and somewhere well below useful.

And he costs the Galaxy $6.2 million. Great bit of business, that.

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