Much has been made this off-season about the possibility of the Sounders signing their first home grown player. There are of course several candidates out there and the current pulse is that this is a very likely scenario. Of course most people that follow soccer over-seas the English Premier League, Bundesliga, Seria A, ect… understand that teams around the world take building their youth and academies very seriously. MLS is trying to get on track with all of that, attempting to develop their own set of young talented American players.
This isn’t simply about keeping youth from going to college or developing them to get into the league sooner. This is about simply creating the next wave of American soccer stars and bringing them through MLS.
Yet, Adrian Hanuarer has repeatedly talked about and has shown to set a premium on doing things “the right way” with the young men in their academy. Now of course that’s kind of subjective. The right way in my mind may not be the right way in yours. But we can obviously agree the intent and purpose is to develop the talents like Darwin Jones and DeAndre Yedlin into rave green first team contributors.
The problem with signing a young player away from college, as we are all too familiar with, is the lack of game time and consistent experience that young players can gain out on the pitch to help grow them into those dependable first team options.
The question you have to consider is do we surrender the dependable amount of games that could be played in college, and possibly U-20/U-23 appearances, in exchange for time possibly spent in the reserve leagues against better competition and very possibly less time on the pitch.
It’s a gamble either way and it’s not one that we can all easily arrive at and work out. Considering the current state of the roster it seems smart to attempt and sign a player, or two, on the cheap that have the potential to grow into impact talents.
I’m not against that idea. But I’m not sold that making this move is the best decision for the players and really for the team. I think there are reasons that we’ve seen multiple other clubs sign HGP’s and yet we are sitting with the Sounders having yet to make a move.
Neither of the possible academy grads will make immediate impacts. They’ll serve as reasonable depth on a team that can use it and will likely improve the team because of it. But, it’s not necessarily what is best for the youngsters.
If we really want them to improve to the point that they can be more than usable pieces, but rather core members on the Sounders squad it may just be the best option for the Sounders to let them have a little more time at the college ranks. I know this isn’t a popular opinion and I’m not dead set for it. But I think it’s something that we haven’t considered much.
People criticize the college game quiet a bit with out realizing how much it really does contribute to the MLS right now. Sure, it’s significance will likely take a sizable hit in the coming years with academies that are actually functioning. But that’s not to say they don’t server a purpose.