At times it can feel like the Development Academy was formed expressly for the MLS clubs. And there’s probably a world of analysis in which that’s not too far off the mark.
But it’d be a mistake to overlook the prodigious amount of talent still flowing out of non-MLS DA academies.
MLS clubs have the dangling carrot of Homegrown minutes at the end of their academy careers, and it’s hard to overstate how immense a thing that is. The prospect of a pro career is the pinnacle for an academy kid, and it’s an uncomfortable fact of life that only around about a fourth of the league’s teams can offer that outright. Otherwise, the options are either to go to college for four years, switch to an MLS academy or sign abroad. And for most, the latter choice isn’t even an option until their 18th birthday.
So it’s a bit more touch-and-go for non-MLS kids, but they still pop up in the pros with regularity. And the fact that the DA is producing non-MLS guys like Jeremy Ebobisse? Yes, there’s talent here.
Today starts a two-part series in which we take a closer gander at the top five currently performing academies in the DA at the U16 and U18 age groups. The skill here should not be missed, and today we start with the U16s.