MLS Homegrown Game gives fans chance to see league’s rising stars

Gyasi Zardes

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

The future stars of Major League Soccer will be on display on Monday evening in the first annual MLS Homegrown Player game.

The 20-man MLS Homegrown squad will take on the Portland Timbers Under-23s on Monday night at Providence Park, kicking off the MLS All-Star Game festivities, and featuring some rising stars that could be suiting up for the U.S. Men’s National Team in the future.

While some of the players are still raw and battling for a spot in their respective club’s lineup, there are a few who have broken through and are regular starters for their teams.

Will Trapp, Gyasi Zardes, Harry Shipp, Dillon Serna, and Shane O’Neill are all expected to start the match for the Homegrown squad, which will be coached by MLS Director of Player Programs Alfonso Mondelo. Along with goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who has MLS experience from 2013 under his belt, the homegrown side has a strong spine in 2014.

Trapp has proved in the last 12 months to be one of, if not the most important player on the field for the Columbus Crew each week as they battle to make the playoffs. Zardes has taken a big step forward this season, improving his finishing rate to eight goals already, including five goals in his last five games.

Shipp has been arguably the best rookie in MLS this season, scoring six goals and assisting on five others as he’s locked down a position on the left side or as a second striker for the Chicago Fire. Meanwhile, the Colorado Rapids pair of Shane O’Neill and Dillon Serna are enjoying strong seasons, O’Neill building off his first full season in the lineup while Serna has received his first taste of first team soccer.

Even outside of the players who are regulars for their clubs, there are a number of exciting prospects who will have a chance to impress.

The 17-year-old Sporting KC centerback Erik Palmer-Brown was thrown into the fire last May due to injuries and international call-ups but had a regrettable debut, picking up two yellow cards in a 2-1 defeat to the Fire. However, he recovered in his next two matches, producing solid performances, including going the full 90 in a 2-0 victory at the Houston Dynamo.

Palmer-Brown is also the only current MLS player to be born in 1997.

Other players to keep an eye on include Canadian international Russell Teibert, who has produced some thrilling moments for the Vancouver Whitecaps in his two years with the first team, the Philadelphia Union’s Zach Pfeffer, who spent the last year with Hoffenheim in Germany and is a regular for the U-20 USMNT, and Mexican youngster Carlos Salcedo, who has featured for Real Salt Lake in each of the last two seasons.

In addition, Tommy Thompson, who is finally over his knee struggles, is a player who has a very bright future for the San Jose Earthquakes and could make a few heads turn at the MLS Homegrown game.

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What do you think of this match? Which players are you most looking forward to see?

Share your thoughts below.

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24 Responses to MLS Homegrown Game gives fans chance to see league’s rising stars

  1. Raul says:

    Anyone else wish this was 2 teams full of HGs as opposed to one of them being the Timbers U23?

    • Matt J. Brooks says:

      Yes! I may be incorrect but I believe they have enough Homegrowns to do this too.

      • Raul says:

        They do. Not like they can say most of these players have a decent number of first team minutes.Some of these kids havent seen the field for their team yet.

      • Conare says:

        They do, but a lot of the homegrown players weren’t selected. There are about 70 active according to this site:

        link to pressbox.mlssoccer.com

        • mike says:

          True, but could anyone expect any stadium to fill without a majority of their home team’s players taking part? Whether, no name home growns, under-23 or otherwise. I agree it would be better to have both sides homegrown though.

  2. scweeb says:

    Would actually like to see them play Bayerns U-21 team.

    • Stinky Pete says:

      Bing! Way better idea! Playing the Timbers U-23 doesn’t make much sense other than they happen to be near by.

      • downintexas says:

        Its something new. Either this idea will fizzle or it will grow and they will be playing some top notch youth club teams. Either way it can’t hurt.

    • whoop-whoop says:

      Asking one time throw together squad to compete against a team that plays together regularly is a tough thing… vs Bayern Munich’s. Has a good shot of getting ugly.

  3. Raymon says:

    So what is the definition of a “homegrown” MLS player?

    • Raymon says:

      Just found it:
      (F) HOMEGROWN PLAYER SIGNINGS
      A club may sign a player to his first professional contract without subjecting him to the MLS SuperDraft if the player has trained for at least one year in the club’s youth development program and has trained 80 days with the academy during that year. Players joining MLS through this mechanism are known as Homegrown Players.

      Thank you, me.

    • Ian says:

      Shorter version: An academy player, but with all kinds of esoteric caveats, as is par for the coarse in MLS.

  4. Jason Maxwell says:

    Shane O’Neill has missed the last couple of Rapids games due to injury and the Rapids released a statement yesterday that said he is travelling to Portland to take part in the festivities but is unlikely to play. I’m not sure how that translates into “expected to start”.

  5. jloome says:

    Not a popular concept with the TFC front office, obviously, as they’re sending Ashtone Morgan, who has lost his starting job at left back to Justin Morrow, and not either Doneil Henry or Jonathan Osorio, both bonafide starters (and in Henry’s case, easily one of the best young players in the league now.)

    • beto says:

      I wouldn’t send my club’s best players to this or the all-star game!

      Especially since there are games this weekend.

      • Benjamin C. says:

        Even if this were an option, no team in MLS has the cachet to simply refuse to take part in the league’s attempts to promote its brand, which is essentially what All-Star games are for. There are no Bayern Munich’s, Real Madrid’s, or Manchester United’s here.

  6. WK says:

    is this game on MLS live or somewhere else?

  7. Mattie says:

    Is this being streamed anywhere?

  8. barnie says:

    Holy Shipp!

  9. fastrightleg says:

    I do not have access to ESPN3. Will someone give commentary? Or, could you update me?

    • John says:

      Its on MLSsoccer.com as well free, almost over though 0-0. Twellman honestly just said “is this game over with yet” haha. Portland’s had the better chances in the second half though. Zardes in jeans, not sure why he’s even there.

      • fastrightleg says:

        Thanks!

        I went to the website as well, but the video player was not properly working, so I simply stopped looking for it.

        I was going to watch the highlights, but I may not now.

  10. Dainja says:

    Ugh.

    Pretty dreadful game to watch (how did Shipp not control this game more?) but I’m still glad they had it and I hope they continue it in the future. Jamison had his moments and Tommy Thompson had flashes.