Seattle Sounders FC's Youth Academy took a major step forward when DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders FC and MLS agreed to the transfer to Tottenham. While much of what makes Yedlin special was discovered and refined rather than developed, his success in MLS and the World Cup are a sign for all Washington area boys (except Clark County, sorry kids) that hard work, talent and good fortune can lead them to a promised land as well.
First, it's a sign and motivation
Take the case of Jacob Hauser-Ramsey. The highly regarded centerback already has time with the Sounders Reserves. He will eventually be going to UC - Santa Barbara after completing his AA. Over on twitter he made it clear how the move helps motivate him.
Seeing how far Deandre's got makes me wanna work so hard— Jay (@JACOBHAUSER) August 13, 2014
Those kind of statements have been true throughout Yedlin's rise from highly-regarded to high-performaning.
Who is next?
There are already two other Homegrown Players that came through Seattle's system on the roster. Both Sean Okoli and Aaron Kovar have some time with various US youth national teams, but it would not be fair to say they are exploding on the scene. Both look to have qualities that indicate they can become MLS regulars. But there are more in the system.
The five most likely to sign as the next HGP are;
- Jordan Morris - Forward, Stanford, on the US Olympic radar, preseason TopDrawerSoccer Best XI
- Darwin Jones - Forward, Husky, preseason TDS second XI
- Troy Peterson - CM, College of Charleston
- Jordan Schweitzer - CDM, Denver
- Victor Rojas - Winger, 8 goals with U18s last year, not going to college
Sure, Mansaray is with the US U18s right now, but he's still got a year of high school left. There's also a host of others that could make leaps in the upcoming college season. One of those is right back Nick Raskasky at West Virginia. He and Justin Crichlow (heading to Harvard) are two that saw how Sounders FC used their last Academy raised right back and could eventually follow in his footsteps to don the Rave Green.
That's a lot of talent, is there room?
Nope, not with the First Team. That may be where the two million dollars plus of non-Allocation Money can make a big difference. It must be spent on soccer related activities and not just pocketed by ownership. Each year of a USSDA team operated by an MLS team costs about 750,000 dollars. Pumping more money into the younger ages, hiring new coaches or improving facilities is one way to help long term.
Near term that 2M+ dollars could fund about two years of a USL PRO side. I've been told by people with knowledge of planned expansion that teams at that level cost about a million dollars a year to operate. Sounders B/2/Reserves down at Starfire could use an immediate injection of funds to set-up a few coaches and front-office staff separate from Sounders FC.
If Seattle can start to develop talents that are in demand from clubs with larger budgets and gain Allocation Money regularly they will be able to flip the script on the salary cap.
The Academy returns to competitive play on September 13th with a trip to Vancouver. Their first home weekend is the 20th and 21st hosting two non-MLS California teams.