FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For a few years after Major League Soccer began allowing clubs to sign players directly from their academy systems, every Homegrown signing was a major news story.
This, everyone agreed, is the future of American soccer.
Midway through the 2013 season, the future is coming into focus. Homegrown signings now occur on a regular basis and rookies are just as likely to have come through an academy system as the draft process.
All but one of the league’s 19 teams – the San Jose Earthquakes being the exception – currently carry at least one Homegrown player on the roster. In total, 59 players on current MLS rosters are Homegrown.
But simply signing Homegrown players is only part of the process. Production, of course, is the ultimate goal.
Which begs the question, which MLS teams are getting the most production out of their Homegrown signings?
Statistics show that the New England Revolution – with a pair of regular starters in Scott Caldwell and Diego Fagundez – is getting the best return from its academy products in terms of both minutes played and attacking output. Only three other clubs – D.C. United, the LA Galaxy and Columbus Crew – really even approach the level of production New England has received from its Homegrown duo this season.
The following is a statistical breakdown of Homegrown players for the 2013 season, limited to the top eight clubs in terms of Homegrown output.
* The players listed and included for each club are only those who have appeared in a regular-season game in 2013, and only those who came through that club’s academy system. For instance, Juan Agudelo isn’t included in the Revolution’s statistical breakdown because he is a product of the New York Red Bulls academy system.
New England Revolution (Scott Caldwell, Diego Fagundez)
- 32 games played, 26 games started, 2343 minutes played, six goals, five assists
D.C. United (Bill Hamid, Conor Shanosky, Ethan White)
- 27 games played, 25 games started, 2213 minutes played, zero goals, zero assists
LA Galaxy (Jack McBean, Jose Villareal, Gyasi Zardes)
- 38 games played, 23 games started, 2129 minutes played, six goals, three assists
Columbus Crew (Chad Barson, Matt Lampson, Ben Speas, Wil Trapp)
- 26 games played, 20 games started, 1785 minutes played, one goal, one assist
Seattle Sounders FC (DeAndre Yedlin)
- 15 games played, 14 games started, 1270 minutes played, one goal, one assist
Toronto FC (Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan)
- 17 games played, 14 games started, 1220 minutes played, zero goals, two assists
Colorado Rapids (Shane O’Neill)
- 14 games played, 12 games started, 1116 minutes played, zero goals, zero assists
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Russell Teibert)
- 12 games played, 11 games started, 997 minutes played, two goals, seven assists
These statistics don’t imply an absolute assessment of the Homegrown process, as positions must obviously be taken into consideration when factoring goals and assists. But no team in the league has gotten more starts (26) and minutes played (2,343) out of its Homegrown players than the Revs this season, while Diego Fagundez (six goals, four assists) has easily been the most offensively-productive Homegrown player in 2013.
It’s still a great story any time a player gets signed to a Homegrown contract, but it’s no longer a success story simply to sign for your hometown team. The league’s productive Homegrown players have raised the bar, and it’s safe to say New England’s duo is helping lead the charge.