Orlando City sign Redding as first MLS homegrown player

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By MIKE GRAMAJO 

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City SC might not be in Major League Soccer just yet, but that isn’t stopping them from already working on their list of MLS homegrown players.

The Lions announced on Wednesday that they have signed U.S. Under-18 national team defender Tommy Redding as their first MLS homegrown player.

The 17-year old will join the Lions on a multiyear deal (USL Pro-MLS), after turning down multiple offers from Europe, most specifically Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

“We were always aware of him, we knew he was with the national team, so he was already close to us,” OCSC President Phil Rawlins told SBI on acquiring Redding. “The biggest obstacle was Europe, it was a case of making a step for Tommy and what’s best for his development. It was the right place, the right time.

“He was already with us, it was just landing him since he was with the national team. He trained with the club after he left the IMG Academy, so we always had that contact with him. It was silly not take advantage of this opportunity, especially with Tyler (Turner), we seized the moment with these two young talents.”

Redding, who was part of the IMG Residency Program, has been part of the club’s preseason and will line up alongside his fellow U.S. U-18 teammate Tyler Turner, who also joined the Lions in February. Both defenders will also play alongside veteran defenders Rob Valentino and Luke Boden.

The Oviedo, Florida native told reporters that skipping college played a huge factor in signing with Orlando City, saying that either playing in Europe or playing professional at home were his first plans before eventually attending college.

Redding becomes Orlando City’s fifth MLS signing, joining midfielders Yordany Alvarez, Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren and defender Tyler Turner in Orlando’s 2015 MLS squad.

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What do you make of this development? Do you like this Orlando City signing? Can you see other homegrown talents turning down offers from Europe to stay home?

Share your thoughts below.

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33 Responses to Orlando City sign Redding as first MLS homegrown player

  1. Adam says:

    As an Orlando City fan, I cannot wait for 2015! I love the way they are going about building this team and he is a great talent. As an MLS and American soccer fan, I am really excited to see an expansion team focusing on young American talent. This kid is local and represents the type of player MLS teams should be going after. Go Lions!!!!

  2. James says:

    Wow skipping out on Munich and Dortmund is a terrible choice on his part.

    • Drew11 says:

      Really? What Americans have they developed? It’s a pretty short list. Subotic is the only one I can think of. Who else?

      • Frank says:

        Boyd, Green, Donovan

        • Paul6 says:

          LD started at Leverkusen.

        • Drew11 says:

          IOW, nobody. Green and Boyd were signed as Germans. LD flamed out at another BL club. The German big clubs may developed a lot of players but so far they haven’t been American. Redding will be just fine at OC.

      • Josh D says:

        Who cares what Americans they developed. They turned a Canadian into one of the best defensive midfielders England has had since Ince.

        What matters is WHO they’ve developed. And that list is far too long to mention here, but it includes the US’ current coach, a legendary striker. If all those players were too afraid to train against the best everyday, then they would never have reached their level.

        It’s not a conversation about Americans, but about players from all nationalities. If our players want to be the best, they have to start playing against the best as young as possible.

      • Maykol says:

        Why does the nationality of their produced players matter?

    • John says:

      Hi James Tommy is only 17 years old he will make Orlando City very proud, so it was a great choice. He can always go and play for Munich and Dortmund after his contract is over. I am Tommy Uncle,.

    • Adam says:

      If Redding could go to Germany and train with the first team consistently and get playing time, I would agree. However, that is not the case. He would go over and make fans (like you and me) really excited to have an American on the books at a European super power even though he is with the reserves playing at a much lower level. This is not the same as the first team…

      With Orlando City, he will train and play and develop with professionals fighting for a job. This is much more beneficial for a young talent.

      • Josh D says:

        See this is the problem. Every single player (Green included) is forced to play in the lower leagues to develop. It helps break them into the game at a professional level and it teaches them humility.

        A 17 year old thinking playing professionally in MLS is not equivalent to playing for a European giant in their lower league teams.

        And all this complaining about our current crop of young kids failing in Europe is stupid. You know how many Germans try to make it in the Bundesliga and fail? Hundreds, thousands.

        We send ten over and when eight fail, we call it a failure. Do the Germans call it a failure because statistically 90% of German players will never make it? No. They produce more and send more so that those who are REALLY good, those who are MEANT to be playing at the top level, do.

        All the US players who have made it onto big teams deserved to. All the ones who failed deserved to play. Because soccer is about what you do on the field. It’s not the Bundesliga’s fault that our players aren’t good enough.

        • Josh D says:

          *A 17 year old thinking playing professionally in MLS is equivalent to playing for a European giant in their lower league teams is nuts.

          Do Germans send their kids to MLS instead of their lower leagues because it’s better for their development?

          If training in youth teams and reserve squads is good enough for all the best players in the world, who are our kids to feel like they’re better than that?

          It makes no sense to think that playing in the reserves at age 17 or in a youth squad is what causes that player not to make it.

          • ryan says:

            I generally appreciate your comments, and I”m not saying that there’s not plenty to your argument, but you’re on a bit of a soapbox today, no? I view it as significant that this debate is becoming more common. It reflects the growth of MLS and its increasing emphasis on youth development. Hopefully MLS teams continue to focus on building a proper youth infrastructure and this debate rages on with even more weight on the scales that a young American player can properly develop (or dare I say better develop) in an American professional system

            • Josh D says:

              Tough day at work perhaps. But I’m frustrated by the US fans who roll their eyes because one of our youth stars are stuck in the reserves. We have this sense of entitlement that makes us feel that because they’re our best youth that they should automatically be starting.

              I think the argument is how much of a gap there is between a typical American 17/18 year old and a European one, and it’s that gap that’s at fault – not that they are forced into the youth academy or reserves and get stuck.

              MLS offers a gradual step. But everyone who comes from it to a European league comments on how different training is. So I think if a kid has talent then to reach it, he has to try.

              Would Dempsey have been a better player if he went over young? Cameron? I think so. Look at Donovan: even if he failed as a teenager in Germany, he wouldn’t have reached his level without it.

              • Adam says:

                It’s a fact having young players fighting for a first team position is better than having them in a reserve league no matter if it’s the US or Germany. Frankly, I have never heard anyone in the game argue that. It’s not a “rolling of the eyes”, it’s competitive fact of a young professional athlete.

                As for Germans failing like everyone else, that is fine but that is their domestic league and that is the road they choose. With Tommy Redding, he can stay close to home and fight for first team action. That is a great opportunity and makes a lot of sense for him to grow. What’s not to like?

        • Adam says:

          Who’s complaining?

  3. JayAre says:

    Just hoping he’s not another Nikolas Besagno

  4. 2Shway (Toronto FC) says:

    Orlando is going to be a solid team next year guaranteed.

    They have already signed great young players, good depth and I’m sure none of their signings are making over 100k. That leaves them to the expansion draft where they have the choice of signing additional good depth or great 150k+ players, plus they will be bringing in DP’s and I wouldn’t be surprised if Kaka makes the jump…

  5. 2tone says:

    Love to see our top youth prospects signing with MLS teams/ future MLS teams. The eurosnobs aren’t going to like him turning down Bayern and Dortmund. But he will be playing first team soccer in MLS while he would be playing in the reserves/ youth academy for Bayern or Dortmund if he would have went that route.

    I can definitely see why he chose MLS. It’s his home area, and he will be playing first team soccer in MLS next year. Same as EPB.

    • Drew11 says:

      What kid wouldn’t want to play pro soccer in Orlando? OC will have the YNT kids lined up out the door.

  6. Robo johnson says:

    If he’s an elite talent he will eventually depart mls. That being said this is a great day for the league. Finally producing and keeping potential big time stars. Even if he leaves in 3 years, still a great day

  7. Tony says:

    What makes training with European clubs so much more prestigious than here in the MLS?

  8. Expat4455 says:

    If Dortmund or Bayern were interested in this kid then he made a big, really big, mistake. If he is very good, and he must be or else Dortmund and Bayern would not show an interest, then he should have accepted.

    Yes, he would play in the Regionalliga but that league consists of young talent on a level of his, with some maybe even better. Plus, he would also train with the first team players also. And both Klopp and Guardiola are known for their personal attention to the very young (17-19yrs) players.

    Another big plus, is that living in Germany the kid would be a part of the football (soccer) culture that does not exist in the U.S., not by a long shot.

    • Drew11 says:

      All that personal attention from Klopp sure helped Boyd. Maybe Redding does not dream of a career in the Austrian Bundesliga.

      The fact is those two clubs have never developed an American. Only a small percent of their youth players make the big squad. That a kid chooses not to play the euro snob approved foootball lotto isn’t really a big deal. He will be fine in MLS.

      • Expat4455 says:

        No, Klopp didn’t turn Boyd into a world-class player. Boyd played in Hertha Berlin’s youth system and moved to Dortmund when he was 20, stayed one season and was then signed by Rapid Wien.

        Redding is 17. The most, or even only, important thing for any young footballer is development. Seriously, where do you think a player like this can better develop his talent, playing in the MLS for a new team or playing in the youth system at Bayern or Dortmund?

        I say there is only one answer.

        • slowleftarm says:

          If he’s getting first-team minutes, I’d say playing in MLS would probably be better. Plus maybe he’d rather stay at home than go live in Germany. It’s also probably not that easy for his family to make that kind of move even if they wanted to.

  9. Smalls1988 says:

    What’s slightly interesting and not part of this story is that Tommy , I believe, was trained in Orlando with Orlando City’s youth rivals – FC America. I’m pretty sure that they were VERY “aware” and “close” to him when the clubs played! Good for Tommy and Central Florida soccer!

  10. alec says:

    Maybe he would rather play in his home state then move to germany at age 17 ? That seems the most reasonable decision to make, why go to Germany when you can play at home? Kid will go crazy in Europe not speaking German, living in German homes & eating German food! Too young in my opinion to move to Europe

    • Expat4455 says:

      If Redding went to Bayern he would not be staying in a German home. He would be in Bayern’s residency program, they have a dorm with 13 apartments for 13 players. (Schweinsteiger, Kroos and Badstuber all lived there). Bayern also provides them with excellent schooling (Redding would be taught in an english speaking school, and yes he would be taking German lessons too).

      I would also add that the food will be much better too. In Europe growth hormones (beef, pork, dairy cows, chickens, etc. are forbidden. Plus, so is high fructose corn syrup.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Ok we get it. Everywhere is better than the US. Surely, our players have missed out by not considering the lack high fructose corn syrup overseas. Considering your moniker I guess it’s fair to say you’d rather live abroad but that isn’t the case for everyone. Stop projecting your values and preferences on other people!

        • Expat4455 says:

          Sorry if you took it that way slowleftarm, but I can see why you did.

          Anyway, my point is: where would an elite young U.S.A footballer today have the best chance to develop his talent. I believe in the case of Redding it would be at either Bayern or Dortmund. Yes I am a fan of Bayern and the Bundesliga but I am also American and I really want the USMNT to become relevant in world football and I believe we can.

          Another thing I believe is that, based on what Bayern and the Bundesliga is doing now in moving their brand into North & Latin America (mainly the USA) means something good for American football. A partnership where some of our super young players go to Germany for development could only help overall soccer in the USA.

  11. Expat4455 says:

    Here is something interesting, there is another young USA prospect who seems to have a huge upside.. Goalkeeper Kevin Silva who turned 16 in Jan., he just moved from New Jersey to train in Bradenton. He played for the U.S. U17 in a Nike Friendly 4-team tournament in December (USA, Portugal, Brazil and England). Kevin won the Golden Glove for his superior play in goal.

    Here is what Kevin recently said: “As of right now, if an opportunity overseas opens up I’m obviously taking it”

    (This information is from an article today from “socceroverthere”)