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TRM

MLS Player Development

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By now I had expected each of our 3 MLS academies to have produced one MLS level starter. Maybe not on our 3 teams but at least one each that would be a starter in MLS somewhere if they couldn't crack the starting 11 at home due to DPs etc ahead of them in their position. I don't see it. Aside from AJH who might get his chance next year I don't see anyone developed by the 3 MLS academies ready to step up and take a spot. Irony is that AJH is from the weakest of the 3 as far as academies go. 

It isn't just our 3 that are having trouble developing players. LA just parted ways with 5 homegrown players. Mediocre results with only 1 being even decent. 

https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2017/11/07/report-la-galaxy-cut-ties-five-homegrown-players

Am I being too impatient (now that would be a switch and kind of funny)? 
Has the level of play in MLS moved beyond what the academies were setup to produce?

 

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I think Edwards could start somewhere else. Davies will be there soon. Hamilton just needs to be traded. The academies are getting there. I think they are just slow... the actual skills development starts at a very young age and assuming the academies don’t work perfectly at first the players will just start to emerge now. I think developmental leagues like L1O and PLSQ will really complement the MLS academies and the cream will rise to the top. I still think they need more time. There is also that gap in the middle of the pyramid. CPL should Take care of that.

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I could not agree more, Tim, and I'm glad you started this thread. It is very disappointing to me, and I don't know how many more years we have to wait before we see a Canadian MLS club develop an every game MLS starter. This isn't isolated to a specific MLS club, but rather all of them. 

In my books, the decision to fold FC Montreal was very disappointing in this regard, even more so given that FC Montreal players played a grand total of 292 minutes in Ottawa this year. I hope WFC 2's new allegiance with Fresno means that they are finding a place for their top academy players (Chung, Baldisimo, Norman, Melvin, Amanda specifically) next year. As for TFC II, I think they have a few players that can make the jump to signing an MLS deal (Hundal, Fraser, Cavaluzzo), but they would be so far down the depth chart that they would be seasoning with the USL team either way.

As for next year, it wouldn't surprise me if this trend continues. Jackson-Hamel is probably the likeliest candidate to be an every game starter, but I have a feeling that the Impact will sign a big name striker to take his place. Robinson has shown he does not trust Davies to start regularly (rightly or wrongly, I think we've had our debate on that enough), and that will continue. As for TFC, I think all of Hamilton, Chapman and Edwards could be regular MLS starters, but they have too much talent in front of them on the depth chart to get more than spot starting duty. 

My hope is that when CPL launches, they can both develop local talent to be starters on their clubs, and provide a decent level of play for players such as Hamilton or Chapman to get regular minutes. I

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I would even be happy if they developed players who went NCAA route and got drafted and took the starting spot on some US team that drafted them (as long as they play for our MNT). So far SigmaFC and Larin are it. 

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While I agree completely with the comments above, we still do have to remember the guys who were starters and those that moved on that could have been if they stayed.  Henry was a starter for TFC before he stalled out in Europe, Attakora and Morgan each had years where they were the primary starter as well.  Aleman and Petrasso, MA Kaye moved on but might still make MLS starter quality.

Vancouver had Haber that moved on to Europe.  He would have been a MLS starter in his prime.   And Zanetta, Froese, Fisk, Irving, all guys that might still might reach that level.  And if AJH isnt starting with the impact next year he should demand a trade because he could be a starter somewhere else in MLS.  It still is not what we all hoped it would be, but there have been some good players produced.  

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Currently I don't think any are starters at MLS level leagues. I might be wrong depending on how that is defined. 

I"m hoping some of those will still take it up a notch but most are now 22-28 years old. Some good players and some may still develop, and I hope so, but they seem to have hit a ceiling below the MLS level. 
 

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6 hours ago, TRM said:

By now I had expected each of our 3 MLS academies to have produced one MLS level starter. Maybe not on our 3 teams but at least one each that would be a starter in MLS somewhere if they couldn't crack the starting 11 at home due to DPs etc ahead of them in their position. I don't see it. Aside from AJH who might get his chance next year I don't see anyone developed by the 3 MLS academies ready to step up and take a spot. Irony is that AJH is from the weakest of the 3 as far as academies go. 

How does someone from the club that plays by far the least number of Canadians state that the Impact is the weakest of the 3 academies? I think all the academies should be doing better but the Caps seem to be the weakest academy in developing players from what I can see.

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7 hours ago, Grizzly said:

How does someone from the club that plays by far the least number of Canadians state that the Impact is the weakest of the 3 academies? I think all the academies should be doing better but the Caps seem to be the weakest academy in developing players from what I can see.

Griz you are including all those returning Canadian players who were not developed by their academies. If you look at the playing time of those who came through the academy and it is pretty much the same across all 3 . Subtract the time of players like Bernier etc. 

Perhaps I should have used the phrase "shortest time in existence" to describe Montreal's academy. They also ditched their USL team earlier than TFC or the Caps giving their players less of a path to the top team. Just my opinion but it seems Montreal has applied fewer resources than either TFC or Caps to their academy.

AJH (24) is starter material somewhere for a MLS level team (IMHO) so we'll see if he can crack the starting 11 at Montreal next year or if they move him. I don't see Hamilton (21) cracking the starting 11 at TFC due to the players ahead of him being Gio, Jozy & Ricketts. 

I think Tabla (18) will be MLS level starter somewhere before he is 20. Same with Davies (17). 

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I'm actually starting to think that players would be smarter to do the NCAA route. If they are MLS calibre then they will be offered GenA after a year or two of university and if not they will get an education rather than toil away on some D2/3 affiliate or on the bench. 

With the restrictions on Canadians in MLS as domestics playing NCAA also gives you some time living in the US that can shorten the green card wait substantially making you a domestic. It also opens you up to the draft process by all the teams although that didn't work out for Irving. 

I thought the academy system would be better than the NCAA but yet the best 2 young players on Vancouver are NCAA products (Parker & Nerwinski). 

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"I thought the academy system would be better than the NCAA but yet the best 2 young players on Vancouver are NCAA products (Parker & Nerwinski). "

They are better than Davies???  Did you really just say that??  

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I personally haven’t watched any USL games so I don’t know much about those teams. Is Shaan Hundal any good? I know he is 18 which is fairly young for the USL and i know that he is TFC II’s leading scorer. Does he have talent that could be developed or is he likely to get stuck at the USL level?

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29 minutes ago, BenFisk'sBiggestFan said:

I personally haven’t watched any USL games so I don’t know much about those teams. Is Shaan Hundal any good? I know he is 18 which is fairly young for the USL and i know that he is TFC II’s leading scorer. Does he have talent that could be developed or is he likely to get stuck at the USL level?

I would argue that Hundal is our best U20 forward right now, given that he is the only one playing professionally right now. I haven't seen much of Millar, who's doing well with Liverpool U18, but wasn't overly impressed in what I saw at the U20 tournament.

The answer to whether he will get stuck at the USL level depends on the talent above him, and given that Hamilton is having difficulty breaking into the first team, it's possible Hundal is at the USL level for a few years. That would not be the worst thing in my mind.

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48 minutes ago, BenFisk'sBiggestFan said:

I personally haven’t watched any USL games so I don’t know much about those teams. Is Shaan Hundal any good? I know he is 18 which is fairly young for the USL and i know that he is TFC II’s leading scorer. Does he have talent that could be developed or is he likely to get stuck at the USL level?

Hundal and Akinola have been considered the two best TFC prospects for the better part of two years now, I haven't watched much TFCII this season, but I haven't heard anything negative about Hundal. He has some questions about how his game projects into MLS, but should at the very least be an MLS role player.

2 hours ago, Bison44 said:

"I thought the academy system would be better than the NCAA but yet the best 2 young players on Vancouver are NCAA products (Parker & Nerwinski). "

They are better than Davies???  Did you really just say that??  

Parker and Nerwinski are better than Davies right now. Nowhere near as much potential as Davies, but both were far more important to the Caps this season.

Edited by harrycoyster

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2 hours ago, Bison44 said:

"I thought the academy system would be better than the NCAA but yet the best 2 young players on Vancouver are NCAA products (Parker & Nerwinski). "

They are better than Davies???  Did you really just say that??  

They are starters so at this point yes. They have taken and held onto their starting position. Now they were 22 when they joined the Caps so 6 years more time to mature. In less than 5 years I think Davies will take and hold a starting spot. Way more potential but currently the players taking the spots are not academy grads they are NCAA guys.

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Not wading into the broader debate, but I think we have to be realistic about how much developmental credit the MLS clubs are due for a guy like Davies.  He is 17 and was with FCEd until last year.  I am a big fan, but I do not attribute either his potential or current level to any MLS developmental capacity.  When assessing that factor specifically, the lion's share of the consideration needs to go to true academy products - guys who got into their systems early and got a substantial portion of their training there.  The Caps didn't develop Davies any more than Arsenal developed Fabregas.

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Very true DN. I am amazed when players stay at a club for long periods. Edwards was at Erin Mills SC for 13 years (6-18), Larin at SigmaFC for 7 (12-19) so they really did have a huge influence on their development. 

Problem is so many kids bounce around every 2 years it is hard to say, without asking them, who did the best job of developing you?

As harrycoyster said in the whitecaps2017 thread "The current u17s are the first class to be in the USSDA since age 12, comprises of the best of all Western Canada, and are 25W-10T-3L in USSDA play since the summer of 2016". 

So if they've been with the same academy for the 12-18 age range you can attribute it to that club. 

I think what we are seeing is a lot of false starts by the 3 MLS academies. They have made wrong assumptions and decisions and are in the "try, try again" camp. If the Caps have it right this time then we'll start to see it in another 2-3 years. If not then "try, try again". 

Maybe the clubs and their academies are just repositories of already developed players? 

http://www.topdrawersoccer.com/the91stminute/2017/06/the-christian-pulisic-blueprint-is-that-there-is-no-blueprint/

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MLS does not develop players correctly. Do you wonder why the US failed to qualify for the WC and Canada hasn't really raised the quality and depth of its player pool since TFC joined the league? This is why we need CPL, to have a proper league that will get things right instead of being stubborn and delusional like MLS.

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On 11/8/2017 at 11:31 AM, TRM said:

Griz you are including all those returning Canadian players who were not developed by their academies. If you look at the playing time of those who came through the academy and it is pretty much the same across all 3 . Subtract the time of players like Bernier etc. 

Perhaps I should have used the phrase "shortest time in existence" to describe Montreal's academy. They also ditched their USL team earlier than TFC or the Caps giving their players less of a path to the top team. Just my opinion but it seems Montreal has applied fewer resources than either TFC or Caps to their academy.

AJH (24) is starter material somewhere for a MLS level team (IMHO) so we'll see if he can crack the starting 11 at Montreal next year or if they move him. I don't see Hamilton (21) cracking the starting 11 at TFC due to the players ahead of him being Gio, Jozy & Ricketts. 

I think Tabla (18) will be MLS level starter somewhere before he is 20. Same with Davies (17). 

Bernier's first professional club was also the Impact so while he wasn't technically developed by the academy he was developed by the team so counting him is not like counting the players like DeJong who were developed elsewhere and had no ties to the club they signed with. The Impact have played the following academy products this year: AJH, Tabla, Crepeau, Choiniere, Beland-Goyette and Lefevre. Of the Canadian players only Piette and Shome had no prior development with the club before this year. Plus several players who did not end up being MLS starters are good NASL players like Tissot and Ouimette.

I think all the MLS teams have not done nearly as well as they should have in developing Canadian players including Montreal. I also don't like that they cut their second team but Vancouver is doing the same this year. Still since MLS began I think Vancouver has been by far the worst team in developing Canadian players and has the lowest rate of success and you have been their biggest apologist so why are you even starting this thread since these are the results of everything you have defended for years?

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On 2017-11-11 at 1:04 AM, RandomDude_555 said:

MLS does not develop players correctly. Do you wonder why the US failed to qualify for the WC and Canada hasn't really raised the quality and depth of its player pool since TFC joined the league? This is why we need CPL, to have a proper league that will get things right instead of being stubborn and delusional like MLS.

But the US up until now qualified for many World Cups and advanced out of their group in a few of those World Cups with MLS players playing some major roles on those American teams, but yes keep believing that the MLS has not produced any players or helped the US national team. Yes havving more Canadian players playing pro soccer in a league like the CPL will be a good thing and hopefully these CPL teams will all have youth academies that are not pay for play but are free for players , however , just like the MLS academies it will take a lot of trial and error before a lot of players are produced it won’t happen overnight your probably looking at 20 years down the line before a good number of players are produced, these things take a lot of time just like it has in the MLS in terms of producing quality players.

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7 hours ago, Grizzly said:

Bernier's first professional club was also the Impact so while he wasn't technically developed by the academy he was developed by the team so counting him is not like counting the players like DeJong who were developed elsewhere and had no ties to the club they signed with. The Impact have played the following academy products this year: AJH, Tabla, Crepeau, Choiniere, Beland-Goyette and Lefevre. Of the Canadian players only Piette and Shome had no prior development with the club before this year. Plus several players who did not end up being MLS starters are good NASL players like Tissot and Ouimette.

I think all the MLS teams have not done nearly as well as they should have in developing Canadian players including Montreal. I also don't like that they cut their second team but Vancouver is doing the same this year. Still since MLS began I think Vancouver has been by far the worst team in developing Canadian players and has the lowest rate of success and you have been their biggest apologist so why are you even starting this thread since these are the results of everything you have defended for years?

Yes from 2000-2002 Bernier played with the Impact when he was 20-22. Before that he was at Syracuse University 1998-1999 (NCAA Div 1). There is no listing of the youth clubs he played with. 

As I stated previously AJH is the only player I can see as a true starting 11 (aside from Larin). He was with the Impact youth from 2010-2014. 

You view it as being an apologist and I view it as being fair. So why start this thread? I was hoping for some interesting discussions on what makes a good development system and is that transferable to the MLS setup we have in Canada? 

After 5-8+ years of the 3 MLS clubs having academies I was expecting a lot more starting players. I am curious as to why it isn't happening. 

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I agree they MLS teams should be doing more to help Canadian players, however I think soccer in this country will take a similar path in this country as basketball. The raptors started in 1995. By 2013 and 2014 the city of Toronto in large part due to the raptor influence produced first overall picks with another to follow in a couple of years. I think it will take a whole generation to start producing high level players. It may even take longer with soccer because MLS wasn't in the mainstream media until only recently. In another 5-10 years is when we should start seeing results.

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43 minutes ago, Stryker911 said:

I agree they MLS teams should be doing more to help Canadian players, however I think soccer in this country will take a similar path in this country as basketball. The raptors started in 1995. By 2013 and 2014 the city of Toronto in large part due to the raptor influence produced first overall picks with another to follow in a couple of years. I think it will take a whole generation to start producing high level players. It may even take longer with soccer because MLS wasn't in the mainstream media until only recently. In another 5-10 years is when we should start seeing results.

I keep having to refute this....there were lots of kids playing Bball in the GTA prior to the Raptors. There was also little change in player development up until a decade ago. So what changed? The introduction of AAU summer ball is what has driven the change. For 2-3 months each summer the top 30 kids in the GTA compete to make one of two elite teams, train together, are coached by some of the best youth coaches in Canada and play against some of the top American talent. And on top of that they're getting scouted by more and bigger US colleges.

Until we get our 3 MLS Academies competing in the Jr. Bundesliga or the EPL U18 league don't count on replicating the Bball model for change.

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Basketball was a fringe sport in this country 30 years ago and the introduction of the NBA to Canada did have an impact on the interest and in kids playing more.  Of course having AAU teams operating at the highest level possible has aided in the development of our super players, but the interest in playing was certainly bumped by the Raptors.  I see the same thing with soccer and TFC.  10 years ago no one in my local school wore any TFC gear.  Now, especially in the last two seasons, the kids are wearing the gear and discussing the team.  Better athletes will choose soccer than those who previously did, and if we can get those kids into good academies they will start producing national level players.  

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I dont see why these things cant exist together?? Interest from Raptors/TFC/impact/VWC etc helps exactly like Linseman has said, better athletes chose the sport or stick with it longer when they see pro programs in their town.  The sport cant exist without the groundswell of support.  But, JPG75 makes a good point that to take the best TO area players to the next level they needed something extra.  You need alot from column A and some from column B. 

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44 minutes ago, Club Linesman said:

Basketball was a fringe sport in this country 30 years ago and the introduction of the NBA to Canada did have an impact on the interest and in kids playing more.  Of course having AAU teams operating at the highest level possible has aided in the development of our super players, but the interest in playing was certainly bumped by the Raptors.  I see the same thing with soccer and TFC.  10 years ago no one in my local school wore any TFC gear.  Now, especially in the last two seasons, the kids are wearing the gear and discussing the team.  Better athletes will choose soccer than those who previously did, and if we can get those kids into good academies they will start producing national level players.  

25-30 years ago the NBA might have been a fringe sport in this country, but in the GTA and with the youth at the time (i was a teen back then) it's popularity had exploded hand-in-hand with rap music. Tonnes of kids were sporting Jordan's (he probably had more to do with the popularity of the sport than the Raptors until VC showed up) and were playing on playgrounds all over the city. The powerhouse schools (Eastern Comm., Runnymede, Jean Vanier, etc.) were being scouted already. Jamaal Magloire went to UK, his teammate the PG ( forget his name) went to Toledo. Magloire's half brother Jeremy (i think that was his name) Sheppard was supposed to go to Syracuse before he was murdered. 

And it wasn't just disadvantaged youth playing, there were white kids at "rich" schools playing (one of the guys at my school went to Ryerson to play CIAU Bball).

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