17 January 2012

Home-grown talent going elsewhere

Daniel Roberts, UNC-Wilmington
I heard a lot of talk prior to the SuperDraft about how MLS academies would eventually render the draft irrelevant. There are a lot of reasons why I think that will not be the case – are MLS teams really going to set up satellite academies in every part of all 50 states? – but there was a little more evidence in Tuesday’s four-round supplemental draft.

By my count, six players with strong ties to MLS academies were selected, four by other clubs and two by clubs that already held their rights. Now, we don’t know the behind-the-scenes issues in each case. MLS may have rejected home-grown claims on one or multiple players. But it seems to indicate that, because not all players from an MLS academy will be good enough to earn a roster spot on their hometown team, they will sometimes need an avenue to play elsewhere, and a draft is the MLS way of dispersing those players.

Below is the list of players selected Tuesday who have home-grown ties. Please post in comments if you have additional information on any players.

  • New Mexico midfielder Michael Green, part of the Columbus Crew’s youth system, was selected by Toronto with the fourth pick. UNM bio.
  • University of Portland defender Ryan Kawulok, who played for the Rapids Academy and was – at some point – listed on Colorado’s protected-player list, was selected by the Portland Timbers at No. 8. Interestingly, Kawulok played for the Timbers’ U23 team while in college. UPortland bio.
  • Delaware forward Evans Frimpong, who played for Union PDL affiliate Reading United and was once part of Philadelphia’s lengthy list of players protected based on PDL participation, was picked by Chicago at No. 9. Thankfully for all concerned, MLS more than a year ago rejected the PDL theory of claiming players. Delaware bio.
  • St. John’s forward Walter Hines, part of the vaunted New York Red Bulls academy, was selected by Dallas at No. 49. Perhaps Schellas Hyndman was disappointed that midfielder Arthur Ivo, who played at Hyndman’s former employer, SMU, had been taken earlier that round. St. John's bio.
  • Kansas City selected its own product, Rockhurst midfielder Kyle Miller, at No. 54. Rockhurst bio.
  • Houston selected one of its own products, UNC-Wilmington midfielder Daniel Roberts, at No. 75. Houston bio.

As supplemental picks, all of these players – particularly Hines, Miller, and Roberts – face up-hill odds to make their respective rosters. Things may be even tougher for Frimpong, Hines, and Roberts, born in Ghana, Costa Rica, and England, respectively. If they don’t have a green card or dual citizenship, they will count as international players, and very few MLS teams have enough international slots to use them on backups.

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