Pride of the New York Red Bulls

The New York Red Bulls recently signed 2019 Super Draft pick Sean Nealis to a first team contract. Sean is the second “Sean” on the team (after Sean Davis), the 6th New Yorker on the team, and the 12th player from NY, NJ, or CT (including Ryan Meara, Evan Louro, Kyle Duncan, Tim Parker, Connor Lade, Omir Fernandez, Alex Muyl, Sean Davis, Ben Mines, Brian White, and Derrick Etienne Jr.). As I noted on twitter, you could make a semi-functional starting XI out of these 12 players (4-4-2):

White – Etienne

Mines – Davis – Fernandez – Muyl

Lade – Nealis – Parker – Duncan

Meara/Louro

(Meara and Louro are both Goalkeepers)

Fernandez is the only player here who is obviously out of position. Most prefer Etienne play on the wing, but he has spent time up top in the past, and I’m not sure if Ben Mines is comfortable playing on the left wing. But those are small quibbles you might see in any game-day roster. This would never be the first choice lineup, but I think this XI could play a US Open Cup game against a USL team. In that game, Parker, Meara, and Davis would easily be the best players on the field, Muyl, Etienne, White, Lade, and Duncan would all look comfortable. Fernandez and Nealis are more or less unknown quantities at this point so I won’t make any claims there. Point is, this team would be competitive. I think it goes without saying that they would struggle against most MLS teams.

Regardless, this got me wondering, “How many other MLS teams could make similar claims of showcasing local talent?” So I did some digging. Below you can find every other MLS team and how many players grew up near where that team is located. This is relatively loosely defined, since I’m counting NJ and CT for the New York Red Bulls I have to be lenient for teams like New England, Kansas City, Cincinnati, etc. who are all near state borders/cover multiple states.

 

Atlanta United – 5 (All Georgia)

Chicago Fire – 4 (All Illinois)

FC Cincinnati – 4 (1 Ohio, 3 Michigan)

Colorado Rapids –  6 (All Colorado)

Columbus Crew – 5 (4 Ohio, 1 Michigan)

FC Dallas – 8 (All Texas)

DC United – 7 (4 Maryland, 3 Virginia)

Houston Dynamo – 3 (All Texas)

LAFC – 3 (All Southern California)

LA Galaxy – 8 (All Southern California)

Minnesota United – 3 (2 Minnesota, 1 Wisconsin)

Montreal Impact – 9 (All Quebec)

New England Revolution – 6 (5 Massachusetts, 1 Rhode Island)

NYCFC – 4 (All New York)

RBNY – 12 (6 New York, 5 New Jersey, 1 Connecticut)

Orlando City SC – 2 (Both Florida)

Philadelphia Union – 7 (4 Pennsylvania, 2 Delaware, 1 New Jersey)

Portland Timbers – 2 (1 Oregon, 1 Washington)

Real Salt Lake – 2 (Both Utah)

San Jose Earthquakes – 7 (All Northern California)

Seattle Sounders – 3 (All Washington)

Sporting Kansas City – 3 (All Kansas)

Toronto FC – 10 (All Ontario)

Vancouver Whitecaps – 4 (All British Columbia)

 

The answer to my question seems to be no, but some teams do come close. Toronto came closest with 10, and Montreal is right behind them with 9. I also wasn’t simply counting any Homegrown player, as many Homegrown territories spread far enough away that those players are hardly “local talent”. For example, Real Salt Lake have more Homegrowns from Arizona than they do from Utah. Since the Arizona border is approximately 7.5 hours from Salt Lake City it’s hardly fair to call those players local. I also limited San Jose to Northern California and both LA teams to Southern California, which made a difference by 2 or 3 players in all cases. All Three Canadian teams have relatively large territories but restricting them to their nominal city and immediate suburbs didn’t make a difference in any case.

Additionally, I was counting more than just Homegrown players. I was also counting any player who grew up in the area. For example, Tim Parker grew up on Long Island, was drafted by Vancouver, and was then traded to RBNY. He still counts as a local guy. This boosted numbers across the board, not helping any one team more than the others.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to look at a European club for comparison. I chose Ajax since they are known for having one of the best academies in the world (not a direct correlation to showcasing local talent, but I digress). Since the Netherlands is a relatively small country, I counted any Dutch player as a “local” player (The Netherlands is smaller than most states in square miles). Ajax have 10 Dutch players on their roster. Of course there are more variables involved with Ajax’s roster, i.e. more money, higher level of competition, more global scouting network, etc. After seeing that statistic though, part of me wants to say “RBNY has the most local talent on their team relative to any club in the world!” but that’s definitely not true. Think of small teams that plays in Central America or the Carribean. They are likely only working with local talent.

Either way, it’s really cool that RBNY are able to play at such a high level in MLS and make their fans proud by playing local talent.

 

 

Advertisements

Gregg Berhalter’s 1st Game Reviewed

The day has finally arrived! After over a year of waiting the new, permanent USMNT head coach took charge of his first game. The Yanks played Panama in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday night where both teams were sporting B/C teams (At best both teams were only playing 2 starters).

Before we start, here are a few reasons this performance should be taken with a grain of salt: 1. These are not the most talented players in the US pool. 2. Most of these players are learning a new system 3. Few of these guys have played together for club or country (5 players made their debuts on Sunday night), 4. All of these guys are in preseason form, and 5. Panama played like trash. With that said, here are my notes from the game:

They looked like Columbus defensively, and that worked pretty well. That is, in defense, the team fell into a 4-4-2 with Djorde Mihailovic joining Zardes on that “2” line. Panama wasn’t much of a threat going forward so stopping them was not a hard test. Nonetheless, it is good that the US passed that test.

Offensively, the shape varied from Columbus. In Columbus, Trapp and Artur shared the responsibilities of a box-to-box midfielder and a defensive midfielder as they sat behind Higuain who was the pure creative midfielder. This was in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Trapp and Artur on the “2” line and Higuain at the center of the “3” line. For the US on Sunday, Bradley played as a pure defensive midfielder behind Mihailovic and Roldan who shared the responsibilities of a box-to-box midfielder and creative midfielder.  This created more of a 4-1-4-1 with Bradley as the “1” between the “4” lines and Roldan and Mihailovic as the two in the center of the midfield “4” line. This makes sense as Bradley is a more complete defensive midfielder than any player in camp was a creative midfielder.  Here’s some figures to demonstrate:

Columbus’ 4-2-3-1 (2018 roster names)

Steffen

Afful – Mensah – Abubakar – Valenzuela

Artur – Trapp

Santos – Higuain – Meram

Zardes

USMNT’s 4-1-4-1

Steffen

Lima – Zimmerman – Long – Lovitz

Bradley

Baird – Roldan – Mihailovic – Ebobisse

Zardes

Then in defense Mihailovic would join Zardes up top and Bradley would fill his spot of the “4” line to create a 4-4-2 block.

The offense was creating plenty of chances, but wasn’t putting them in the back of the net. In the first half the US created 8 solid scoring chances and only scored on one of them. The second half had another half dozen unfinished chances. Again, see the above caveats. Offense takes a lot of chemistry so I think that.

Michael Bradley had some nice line-splitting passes, and covered ground pretty well. In my opinion he’s a better passer than any other defensive midfielder in the player pool. Canouse and Adams are slightly better than him defensively, but Bradley’s endurance is starting to drop. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think Bradley should either be getting subbed-on, or subbed-off for any of his appearances. Use the other minutes at that position to groom his replacement. Berhalter did sub Bradley off for the last 7ish mins and brought on Trapp. I would have preferred Canouse but I won’t cry over a late sub in a friendly.

I appreciate that Long was the captain, not Bradley. First it’s a really bad look to give Bradley the armband; it says “this is more of the same” which is not the branding US Soccer is going for. Second, it would also look bad if Berhalter gives the arm band to any of his Columbus boys. Third, Long has an incredible soccer story going from 2016 USL Defender of the Year to 2018 MLS Defender of the Year in 2 years. I’m sure his journey has humbled him, and that he’ll never let his personality get in the way of the team.

The fullbacks got involved. Berhalter want’s his fullbacks to play as pseudo-central-midfielders/distributors. Very few teams in MLS use the fullback position in this way and its why Columbus’ fullbacks (Afful, and Valenzuela) are some of the best in the league. Lovitz and Lima both played that role well, Lima better than Lovitz.

Steffen was better than Johnson, but to be fair to Johnson it’s weird for a ‘keeper to get subbed on in the 75th minute. And Johnson had some nice distribution and didn’t let in any goals so he wasn’t terrible.

Ramirez put away the one opportunity that he got and had a nice turn-and-pass to Lletgett, meanwhile Zardes didn’t put away 5 or so chances he had. I think Ramirez is now officially higher on my striker depth chart than Zardes. But since Zardes knows Berhalter’s system well I wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps getting call-ups.

The wingers all looked more like Ethan Finaly, not Justin Meram (Finaly and Meram were Columbus’ wingers in 2015). Ebobisse, Baird, and Lewis played well. Arriola didn’t do much in his cameo. All of them stretched the field, finding that inside lane wherein Berhalter want’s his wingers to operate (Watch a 2015 Ethan Finaly highlight reel and you’ll see what I mean by “inside lane”, it right on the edge of the 18-yard-box). But rarely did any of them cut inside to create with the central midfielders like Meram would do for Columbus. Perhaps that is more due to a lack of space since there were two “attacking” midfielders (Mihailovic and Roldan) rather than one.

Both centerbacks were solid. Zimmerman had better passing but I think Long was stronger defensively. I wouldn’t be surprised if Berhalter goes with similar pairings going forward. That is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he chose one CB who’s a better passer and one who’s a better defender. However it was concerning how many passes we turned over in our own half. Perhaps that is due to having only Bradley in front of the defense rather than two players.

I’m low key in love with Djorde Mihailovic. Not only was his goal a welcome relief after a shaky start to the game, but he looked threatening in the final third all game. I hope the Chicago Fire play him higher up the field this season.

Roldan had a solid performance but I think he would have operated better deeper in the midfield, next to Bradley. Perhaps if Berhalter can find a creative midfielder capable of holding the load on their own than Roldan can slide back next to Bradley.

I look forward to see how this group performs against a sterner test next week against Costa Rica! Check back for more analysis then!

Sidenote: The stadium was practically empty (like 6,000 people in a 60,000 plus person stadium). There were complaints of expensive tickets (the cheapest tickets were $32, up in the nosebleeds). If I recall correctly, US Soccer talked about raising USMNT ticket prices last year in order to help raise funds for academies across the country making them cheaper for players (I have a distinct memory of this but cannot find the source so don’t quote me). In theory, this makes a lot of sense; take money from the people who are willing to spend it and use it to subsidize those that can’t afford to play the game. In practice, it means the USMNT plays in front of smaller crowds, which also probably means less revenue. This also does not bode well for the MLS Expansion hopeful in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s is worth noting that their USL stadium only seats 5,000 … perhaps that has something to do with the low attendance on Sunday. We’ll see what Saturday brings against Costa Rica in San Jose (19,000 capacity Avaya Stadium).

Profiling MLS Training Facilities

Continuing with my exploration of how MLS teams stack up against one another off-field, this piece is examining where each team spends most of its time: their training facilities. This is where teams practice the week and prepare for each game. Similar to my stadium article, I am going to group these training facilities into a loose ranking by tiers. For each training facility I include the “Name of Facility (Team) – Year it’s been in use by that team and how much it cost to build the facility or if it is leased”

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground (Atlanta United) – 2017

Estimated total investment: $60 Million

From Atlanta’s Website: “a 33-acre site featuring a 30,000 square- foot headquarter building and six full-size fields including three natural grass and three FieldTurf surfaces.

Additional highlights of the training ground include:

First team locker room with 22-foot ceilings and 14 elevated windows
Six Academy Locker Rooms
Full service kitchen and dining room with balcony access
Show pitch featuring a 2,500-seat stand and separate Pavilion for viewing
Sport science facilities including double height gym and two hydrotherapy plunge pools
Entrance artwork created by renowned South African artist Marco Cianfanelli”.

CIBC Fire Pitch (Chicago Fire) – 2015

Estimated total investment: $20 Million

From Chicago’s Website: “On Dec. 8, 2015, Chicago Fire Soccer Club Owner and Chairman Andrew Hauptman joined with team supporters, partners and city officials to officially open CIBC Fire Pitch (formerly The PrivateBank Fire Pitch), located adjacent to the Chicago River at Addison and Talman on the city’s northwest side. The 125,000-square-foot complex is the city’s premiere facility for year-round soccer and is open to the public and soccer players from across the region. The $20 million project features both indoor and outdoor fields, serves as an indoor practice site for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club first team and houses games for youth and adult recreational leagues”.

Obetz Practice Facility (Columbus Crew) – 1997

Estimated total investment: Leased

The Crew’s website doesn’t have a page describing their training facility. From what I gather, they practice in Obetz, Ohio at the EAS Training Center. There are two grass fields, a locker room, some offices, and a weight room. They do not own the land they play on and their lease runs out at the end of 2018. Rumor has it that the new Crew ownership wish to turn MAPFRE Stadium into the team’s training grounds once a new downtown stadium is built.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Complex (Colorado Rapids) – 2007

Estimated total investment: $130 million (Stadium included)

From Colorado’s Website: “consists of 24 full-size, fully-lit sports fields, including 22 natural grass and 2 synthetic turf fields” and it looks like they also have indoor meeting spaces as well”.

Loudon County Training Facility (DC United) – 2019-2020

Estimated total investment: The land costs $23 Million, the town is set to pay for $15 million in infrastructure but that’s mostly going to roads, parking lots etc. So with no official number we’re looking at something like $40+ Million (Pure conjecture, don’t quote me on that).

DC currently practice at some Auxiliary fields near RFK, but have plans to create a training facility in Northern Virginia where their new USL team will also play.

From Soccer Stadium Digest: “The project is slated for Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park, which would become the site of a complex that includes a stadium for Loudoun United FC–a new United USL club that has been announced as a 2019 expansion team. Along with four fields (two reserved for the team, two open to public use), the complex would include offices, a training facility, and a modular stadium with a capacity of 5,000 seats. As part of the plan, Loudoun County would lease the land to D.C. United and provide $15 million in financing on the facility, which would be paid back by United”.

Mercer Health Training Facility (FC Cincinnati) – 2019

Estimated total investment: $30 Million

From Cincinnati’s website: “the $30 million, 24-acre facility will include three full-size, lighted soccer fields – including two stabilized natural grass surfaces and one synthetic turf surface – as well as a goalkeeper-specific training area.

The MLS team will be housed in a 30,000 sq. ft., multilevel building abutting the fields, while the FCC Academy teams will utilize a separate 4,000 sq. ft. wing of the building. Additionally, there will be a 3,000 sq. ft. maintenance facility on the property”.

Toyota Soccer Center (FC Dallas) – 2005

Estimated total investment: $39 Million

From Dallas’ website: “Toyota Stadium also includes seventeen regulation sized soccer fields known as the Toyota Soccer Center which are utilized year-round on a daily basis”.

Houston Sports Park (Houston Dynamo) – 2011

Estimated total investment – Leased

From Houston’s website: “the permanent home and professional training center for the Dynamo first team and youth academy. The multi-field soccer facility is located off State Highway 288, approximately 10 miles south of the Dynamo’s new downtown stadium site … includes seven soccer fields, field lights, and parking”.

StubHub Center (Los Angeles Galaxy) – 2003

Estimated total investment – $150 Million (Stadium included)

From the StubHub Center website: “StubHub Center, home of the LA Galaxy … Managed by AEG Facilities, the $150 million, privately financed facility was developed by AEG on a 125-acre site on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) in Carson, California. StubHub Center features an 8,000-seat tennis stadium, a 30,000-seat stadium for soccer, football and other athletic competitions and outdoor concerts; a 2,000-seat facility for track & field and a 2,450-seat indoor Velodrome – the VELO Sports Center – for track cycling. StubHub Center is home to Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, the five-time MLS Cup Champions. StubHub Center is also home to the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) High-Performance Training Center, the national team training headquarters for the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and EXOS, an international training center for elite and professional athletes”.

LAFC Training Facility (Los Angeles FC) – 2018

Estimated total investment: $30 Million

From Angels on Parade’s website: “The $30 million facility, which includes offices, training facilities, hydrotheraphy tubs and a lush field that matches the team’s grass at Banc of California Stadium, will be their permanent training home after playing at UCLA while construction was being completed.

In addition to the first team, LAFC’s academy will also be housed at the facility. The academy has been training at Cal State LA since its establishment in 2016″.

National Sports Center (Minnesota United) – 2017

Estimated total investment: Leased

Minnesota currently use the National Sports Center as their training facility and have plans to renovate part of it. From fiftyfiveone’s website: “there would be no physical build-out. Instead, the lower southeast corner of the Sports Hall,  a 10,000 sq. ft. area, would be totally renovated specifically for the team’s use. The remodel of the facility will also include a player lounge, new exercise equipment, weight rooms, an office, and a rehab/trainers area”. Strangely enough, this is the only one I’ve personally been to.

Centre Nutrilait (Montreal Impact) – 2016

Estimated total investment: $16 Million

From Montreal’s website: 2 grass fields, 2 turf fields, locker rooms, class/conference rooms, weight rooms, “relaxation rooms”, etc.

Red Bulls Training Facility (New York Red Bulls) – 2013

Estimated total investment: $6 Million (doesn’t include 2 additions made since 2013).

From New York’s website: “The 15-acre center features [four] fields – [three] grass, one turf … includes a lounge area, cafeteria, fully-loaded gym, locker rooms for both the Red Bulls and a visiting team, and offices for members of the coaching staff and front office. Additionally, one of the grass fields (the center field) has a heating system underneath it that allows the club to train even when it snows” (one grass field was added in 2017).

Etihad City Football Academy (New York City FC) – 2018

Estimated total investment: Truly can’t find anything, if I had to guess, I’d say $30 Million (Pure conjecture, don’t quote me on that).

From NYCFC’s website: “Performance areas include: post-exercise aquatic recovery area, gym, boot room, massage and medical treatment rooms, team meeting room, kit storage, laundry, showers and restrooms. The gym has been designed to be big enough to accommodate a full team pre-activation … The soccer pitch is usable all year-round due to undersoil heating capability. The pitch also includes a state-of-the-art camera analysis system that is used to record every training session and inform the coaches’ data analysis of player performance”.

Unnamed Facility (New England Revolution) – 2019

Estimated total investment: $35 Million

From MLSsoccer.com: “A first team and academy training facility on the broader Gillette Stadium property. Situated in the woods and adjacent to several wetlands, the Revs’ 30,000 foot-plus complex will cost $35 million and feature four fields – including a grass pitch the first team already utilizes”.

Osceola Heritage Park (Orlando City SC) – 2019

Estimated total investment: $12 million

From Orlando’s website: “20 acres, featuring four full-size grass fields, a fitness, training and recovery center, a film review room along with a players’ lounge and dining area. Two main locker rooms for City and Pride will be designed to be near replicas of the home locker room at Orlando City Stadium, helping players transition seamlessly from one home to the other. Additionally, the secured facility will have 30,000 square feet of office space for working staff and facilities to support media operations”. Until the opening of the facility, Orlando will continue to train at a leased facility.

Power Training Complex (Philadelphia Union) – 2016

Estimated total investment: Truly can’t find anything. If I had to guess I’d say $10 Million at most. (Pure conjecture, don’t quote me on that).

From the Union’s website: “… include[s] two regulation sized training fields of Bermuda grass and a state-of-the-art indoor facility … adjacent Talen Energy Stadium … The 16,500 square foot indoor facility includes a weight training area, physical therapy and sports science development area, nutrition center, locker rooms, state of the art video theatre and a players’ lounge. The Power Training Complex also houses the offices for Philadelphia Union coaches and support staff”.

adidas Timbers Training Facility (Portland Timbers) – 2012?

Estimated total investment: $6 Million

From Portland’s website: “The training center, located … approximately 10 minutes from Providence Park, includes a new natural-grass field … and a synthetic, FieldTurf field designated for public use … features a 6,000-square-foot indoor facility that includes locker rooms for the Timbers first team and development teams, fully equipped training and fitness areas, offices and a spacious lounge/common area for Timbers players.

Zion Bank Real Academy (Real Salt Lake) – 2017

Estimated total investment: $60 Million

From RSL’s website: “Located on a 132-acre plot … just 20 minutes west of Rio Tinto Stadium … also includes the 5,000-seat Zions Bank Stadium, home of the USL Real Monarchs … amenities include a total of 10 fields including the Stadium, with one each for … public use and a total of seven (7) regulation-size training fields. Four of the fields will be natural grass and outdoor, with the remaining three fields utilizing a state-of-the-art artificial surface … Two of the artificial fields will be housed in the Zions Bank Training Center‘s iconic 208,000 sq-ft. indoor structure, the largest pre-engineered freespan building in North America. Atop this building will be a solar panel array from Utah’s own Auric Solar, at roughly half the size of its Rio Tinto Stadium installation” and a high school for their academy players to attend.

Nutrilite Training Facility (San Jose Earthquakes) – 2010

Estimated total investment: “over $1 million”

From MLSsoccer.com: Built on the same site Avaya Stadium would later be built. “The Nutrilite Training Facility took four months to complete … It … is 72-yards x 115-yards. The square footage of the entire facility is 85-yards x 140-yards, including an area behind the goal for warming up and goalkeeper drills”. The above is from 2010 when the facility was first opened. It also says there is room to expand for more fields. A quick google maps search confirms that and that they have not added extra practice fields since 2010.

Starfire Sports (Seattle Sounders) – 2005 (since before they were in MLS)

Estimated total investment: Leased

From Seattle’s website: ” 54-acres of soccer heaven. The campus features twelve outdoor soccer fields, a 4,000-spectator capacity stadium, and an 85,000 square foot Athletic Center housing two premier indoor fields, locker rooms, restaurants, retail and athletic training” 13 fields, 8 of which are turf.

Pinnacle National Development Center (Sporting Kansas City) – 2018

Estimated total investment: $75 Million

From Pinnacle’s website: 5 soccer fields, three grass, two turf; A sports performance office including neuropsychology office, hyperbaric chambers, recovery room, massage suite and more; 12,870 square feet gym/workout room; a coaching education center; event spaces such as conference rooms, banquet halls, etc.

BMO Training Ground (Toronto FC) – 2012

Estimated total investment: $21 Million

From Toronto’s website: “14 Acres of land … BMO training ground represents a $21 Million investment made by Toronto FC and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment … includes three full size grass fields (two heated), four artificial fields, including two with air-supported bubbles for year-round use, and a 40,000 square foot field house that has locker rooms, training facilities and team offices. There is also a physiotherapy and rehabilitation area, private and cafeteria-style dining, and a video presentation centre”.

Whitecaps FC National Soccer Development Center (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) – 2017

Estimated total investment: $32.5 Million

From Vancouver’s website: “features a three-storey, 38,000 square feet state-of-the-art fieldhouse … five (three grass and two artificial turf fields) constructed, refurbished, and improved fields …The fieldhouse offers a number of exciting features including:

Two-story weight room with glass windows on one end and a fully-mirrored wall on the other, creating a stunning, panoramic view of the new grass fields and surrounding mountains.
Players’ lounge
Kitchen with individualized nutritional options for each player
A hydrotherapy-equipped sports science wing
A branch dedicated for UBC use
A specific entrance and workspace for media”.

Check out the rest of my series Profiling MLS Teams 2018

Profiling MLS Player Pipelines

Continuing my exploration of MLS team’s infrastructure behind-the-scenes, here I am trying to holistically look at the entire developmental pipeline for each MLS team, from the youngest academy team, to the oldest academy team, and on through USL club/reserve team to the first team. I include the latter aspect because there are already a handful of article ranking MLS academies online. I also wanted to do a seperate article on reserve teams for this series so I’m essentially combining the two ideas here.

For each team I am going to look at how many age groups their academy includes, how much money goes into their academy, whether they have a U-23 team (not usually considered an academy team) whether their reserve team is directly operated by the club or an affiliate club, how many academy players have signed for the first team (Homegrown Players), and how many academy players have been sold for a profit.

Atlanta United

Academy Levels: U12 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Atlanta United II

Homegrown Players: (4) George Bello*, Andrew Carleton*, Chris Goslin*, Lagos Kunga*

Homegrowns Sold: None

Chicago Fire

Academy Levels: U12 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Affiliated with Tulsa Roughnecks

Homegrown Players: (10) Grant Lillard, Djordie Mihailovic*, Drew Connor*, Joey Calistri*, Patrick Doody*, Colin Fernandez*, Chris Ritter, Harry Ship, Kellen Gulley, Victor Pineda

Homegrowns Sold: None

Columbus Crew

Academy Levels: U12 – U18

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Affiliated with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Homegrown Players: (2) Wil Trapp*, Alex Crognale*

Homegrowns Sold: None

Colorado Rapids

Academy Levels: U12 – U19

U-23 Team: None

USL Team: Affiliated with Colorado Switchbacks

Homegrown Players: (7) Davy Armstrong, Shane O’Neil, Kortne Ford*, Ricardo Perez*, Dillion Serna*, Sam Vines*, Cole Basset*

Homegrowns Sold: Shane O’Neil to Apollon Limassol (Belgium) for an undiscolsed fee.

DC United

Academy Levels: U12 – U18

U-23 Team: Yes

USL Team: affiliated with Richmond Kickers (Loudon County FC starts in 2019)

Homegrown Players: (8) Chris Durkin*, Ian Harkes*, Jalen Robinson*, Bill Hamid*, Andy Najar, Michael Seaton, Conor Shanosky, and Ethan White

Homegrowns Sold: Andy Najar to Anderlecht for $3 million, Michael Seaton traded to Portland for TAM and an INTL roster spot, Ethan White was traded to Philadelphia for another player

FC Cincinnati

Academy Levels: TBD

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: They were one as recently as this year

Homegrown Players: None

Homegrowns Sold: None

FC Dallas

Academy Levels: U12 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: A team is slated to play in the third division (USL League 1) in 2019

Homegrown Players: (23) Bryan Leyva, Ruben Luna, Moises Hernandez, Victor Ulloa*, Richard Sanchez, Bradlee Baladez, London Woodberry, Kellyn Acosta, Danny Garcia, Jesse Gonzalez*, Coy Craft, Jonathan Top, Alejandro Zendejas, Aaron Guillen, Paxton Pomykal*, Jesus Ferreira*, Bryan Reynolds*, Reggie Cannon*, Brandon Servania*, Kris Reaves*, Jordan Cano*, Chris Richards* and Thomas Roberts*.

Homegrowns Sold: Richard Sanchez to Tijuana for an undisclosed fee, Alejandro Zendejas to Chivas Guadalajara for ~ $500,000, Kellyn Acosta to Colorado for another player and allocation money.

Houston Dynamo

Academy Levels: U10 – U19

U-23 Team: Yes

USL Team: Rio Grand Valley FC

Homegrown Players: (9) Memo Rodriguez*, Christian Lucatero, Sebastian Ibeagha, Bradley Bourgeois, Tyler Deric*, Alex Dixon, Francisco Navas Cobo, Josue Soto, Bryan Salazar

Homegrowns Sold: None

Los Angeles Galaxy

Academy Levels: U12 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: LA Galaxy II (Los Dos)

Homegrown Players: (9) Efrain Alvarez*, Hugo Arellano*, Bradford Jameison IV*, Tristan Bowen, Gyasi Zardes, Jaime Villareal, Nathan Smith, Oscar Sorto, Raul Mendiola

Homegrowns Sold: Tristan Bowen to Chivas USA for an undisclosed fee, Gyasi Zardes traded to Columbus for another player

Los Angeles FC

Academy Levels: U12 – U14

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: affiliated with Orange County SC (ended at the end of 2018)

Homegrown Players: None

Homegrowns Sold: None

Minnesota United

Academy Levels: U13 – U15

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: affiliated with St. Louis FC (may switch to new D3 Madison team in 2019)

Homegrown Players: None

Homegrowns Sold: None

Montreal Impact

Academy Levels: U8 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Affiliated with Ottawa Fury

Homegrown Players: (13) Jason Beaulieu*, Louis Beland-Goyette*, David Choiniere*, Mattieu Choiniere*, Anthony Jackson-Hamel*, Thomas Meiller-Giguere*, James Pantemis*, Maxime Crepeau (GK)*, Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, Zakaria Messoudi, Karl Ouimette, Ballou Jean-Ives Tabla, Maxim Tissot

Homegrowns Sold: Ballou Jean-Ives Tabla to Barcelona B for an undisclosed fee

New York Red Bulls

Academy Levels: U12 – U19

U-23 Team: Yes

USL Team: New York Red Bulls II

Homegrown Players: (17) Giorgi Chirgadze, Juan Agudelo, Matt Kassel, Sacir Hot, Connor Lade*, Santiago Castano, Amando Moreno, Matt Miazga, Sean Davis*, Tyler Adams*, Brandon Allen, Derrick Etienne Jr.*, Alex Muyl*, Mael Corboz, Scott Thomsen, Chris Thorsheim, Arun Basuljevic

Homegrowns Sold: Juan Agudelo was traded for a player, Matt Miazga to Chelsea for ~ $5 million, Tyler Adams to RB Leipzig for $3 + 33% of future sale

New York City FC

Academy Levels: U12 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: None

Homegrown Players: (2) James Sands*, Joe Scally*

Homegrowns Sold: None

New England Revolution

Academy Levels: U13 – U19

U-23 Team: Yes

USL Team: None in 2018, potentially with Hartford Athletic in 2019.

Homegrown Players: (4) Scott Caldwell*, Diego Fagundez*, Zachary Herivaux*, Isaac Angking*

Homegrowns Sold: None

Orlando City SC

Academy Levels: U12 – U18

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Orlando City B (USL League 1, 2019)

Homegrown Players: (1) Mason Stajduhar*

Homegrowns Sold: None

Philadelphia Union

Academy Levels: U12 – U19

U-23 Team: Reading United AC

USL Team: Bethlehem Steel

Homegrown Players: (9) Brendan Aaronson*, Anthony Fontana*, Derrick Jones*, Mark McKenzie*, Matt Real*, Auston Trusty*, Cristhian Hernandez, Jimmy McLaughlin, and Zach Pfeffer.

Homegrowns Sold: Zach Pfeffer was traded to Colorado for draft picks,

Portland Timbers

Academy Levels: U14 – U19

U-23 Team: Yes

USL Team: Timbers 2

Homegrown Players: (4) Marco Farfan*, Foster Langsdorf*, Steven Evans, Brent Richards

Homegrowns Sold: None

Real Salt Lake

Academy Levels: U16 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Real Monarchs

Homegrown Players: (15) Danilo Acosta*, Jordan Allen*, Corey Baird*, Justen Glad*, Jose Hernandez*, Aaron Herrera*, Brooks Lennon*, Sebastian Saucedo*, Eduardo Fernandez, Nico Muniz, Benjamin Lopez, Phanuel Kavita, Fito Ovalle, Ricardo Velazco, and Donny Toia

Homegrowns Sold: Eduardo Fernandez to Tigres UANL for an undisclosed fee

San Jose Earthquakes

Academy Levels: U12 – U 19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Affiliated with Reno 1868 FC

Homegrown Players: (5) Jacob Akanyirige*, Gilbert Fuetes*, Nick Lima*, JT Marcinkowski*, Tommy Thompson*

Homegrowns Sold: None

Seattle Sounders

Academy Levels: U15 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Seattle Sounders 2

Homegrown Players: (9) Victor Mansaray*, Jordan Morris*, Aaron Kovar*, Handwalla Bwana*, Henry Wingo*, Darwin Jones, Sean Okoli, Jordan Schweitzer, and DeAndre Yedlin.

Homegrowns Sold: Sean Okoli was traded to New England for draft picks, DeAndre Yedlin to Tottenham for ~ $3 million,

Sporting Kansas City

Academy Levels: U12 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Swope Park Rangers

Homegrown Players: (6) Erik Palmer-Brown, Jaylin Lindsey*, Gianluca Busio*, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal*, Daniel Salloi*

Homegrowns Sold: None

Toronto FC

Academy Levels: U13 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: TFC II

Homegrown Players: (19) Ayo Akinola*, Jay Chapman*, Aidan Daniels*, Marky Delgado*, Julian Dunn*, Liam Fraser*, Jordan Hamilton*, Ashtone Morgan*, Manuel Aparicio, Sergio Camargo, Oscar Cordon, Doneil Henry, Josh Janniere, Nicholas Lindsay, Keith Makubuya, Chris Mannella, Quillan Roberts, and Matt Stinson,

Homegrowns Sold: Doneil Henry sold to Apollon Limassol for an undisclosed fee, Josh Janniere traded to Colorado for draft picks.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Academy Levels: U15 – U19

U-23 Team: No

USL Team: Affiliated with Fresno FC

Homegrown Players: (12) Alphonso Davies, Theo Bair*, Michael Baldisimo*, Simon Colyn*, David Norman Jr.*, Russell Teibert*, Bryce Alderson, Marco Carducci, Kianz Froese, Ben McKendry, Ethen Sampson, and Brian Sylvestre

Homegrowns Sold: Alphonso Davies sold to Bayern Munich for ~ $12 million, and Kianz Froese to Fortuna Dusseldorf for an undisclosed fee

 

Check out the rest of my series Profiling MLS Teams 2018

Who is Building a Dynasty in MLS as of 2018?

A little over a year ago, I asked Extra Time Radio : “What past MLS teams constituted dynasties?” (56th minute of the linked podcast if you want to hear their discussion). The consensus was that the 1996 – 1999 DC United (3 MLS Cups, 2 Supporter’s Shields and 1 US Open Cup) and the 2010 – 2014 LA Galxy teams (3 MLS Cups, and 2 Supporter’s Shield) were definitely dynasties. Teams that come close were 2009-2016 Seattle Sounders (1 MLS Cup, 1 Supporter’s Shield and 4 US Open Cups), 1998-2000 Chicago Fire (1 MLS Cup, 2 US Open Cups), and the 2012 – 2017 Sporting Kansas City (1 MLS Cup, 3 US Open Cups).

Since then, whether a team is building a dynasty or not has been a recurrent discussion on the show. Here I am going to look at what teams have won trophies over the last few years and rank how close each team is to becoming an MLS Dynasty. My *loose* definition for an MLS Dynasty, based on the two examples given above, has six qualifications:

1. It spans 5 seasons (You could talk me into 4 being enough)

2. The team wins 1 trophy or more per year on average.

3. At least one of those trophies has to be MLS Cup.

4. The team has to win a trophy in a majority of their dynasty years.

5. The dynasty has to begin and end in years where the team won a trophy.

6. The team has a core set of key players that are present for most of the dynasty

This definition excludes the teams above that were close: 2009-2016 Seattle Sounders had 6 trophies over 8 years (Less than 1 trophy per year), 1998-2000 Chicago Fire had 3 trophies over 3 years (not long enough), and the 2012-2017 Sporting Kansas City had 4 trophies over 6 years (Less than 1 trophy per year). You’ll see below why I included the fourth and fifth criteria.

The sixth criteria comes from the ExtraTime Radio discussion. When one thinks of a dynasty, one usually thinks of certain figures who lead said dynasty. These can be a coach and/or a few players. If a team, somehow, met every other requirement while shipping big players in and out every year without a semblance of continuity, then perhaps they could still be considered a dynasty. But I highly doubt that would be possible. For example, the New England Patriots of the NFL, a league with massive year-to-year turnover, have had Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the center of their success.

A few more ground rules for the sake of this discussion:

  • Due to the 4/5 year requirement, I will only be looking as far back as 2015.
  • Only teams that have won trophies will even be mentioned.
  • Only MLS Cup, US Open Cup, Supporter’s Shield and the Canadian Championship are being considered as relevant trophies. If an MLS team were to win CONCACAF Champions League, that would also be considered. I am not counting what I’ll refer to as “Rivalry Trophies” such as The Cascadia Cup, the Atlantic Cup, etc. Some teams have more rivalries with trophies on the line than others and so it doesn’t seem fair to count those towards these rankings. Plus rivalries games tend to be a coin flip even if one team is having a bad year, so they aren’t a great indication of success. If someone can convince me otherwise I am open to listening to your argument.

Honorable Mentions

Vancouver Whitecaps (1 Canadian Championship in 2015), Portland Timbers (1 MLS Cup in 2015), Seattle Sounders (1 MLS Cup in 2016), FC Dallas (1 Supporter’s Shield and 1 US Open Cup both in 2016)

These teams have all won a trophy in the last four years, but their opportunities to add to the trophy case and create an argument for a dynasty have come and gone. I realize Seattle or Dallas could still win trophies next year and their 2016 trophies would still be within a four/five year times span. So let’s imagine either team were to win the 2019 treble (2019 MLS Cup, Supporter’s Shield, and US Open Cup). Then they would technically have 4 years where they won 4+ trophies, and at least one of the trophies would be MLS Cup, meeting my first three criteria set above. However, for a team to win 2 sets of trophies with a two year gap in the middle doesn’t feel like a dynasty. This is why I added the fourth criterion that a team has to win trophies in a majority of the years during their dynasty. Of course If they won any trophy in 2020 after getting the treble in 2019 then that’s a new discussion. However, if they did win 3 trophies in 2019 and 1 trophy in 2020, then the 2016 trophy probably shouldn’t be included in their years as a dynasty. That is, it seems deceptive to include the 2016 trophy and say “they won 5 trophies over the course of 5 years” when there were two trophy-less years. Dallas are in the same boat as Seattle here.

5. Sporting Kansas City (2 US Open Cups one in 2015 and one in 2017)

SKC were close to boosting their Dynasty status with an MLS Cup victory this year. Their 2015 US Open Cup victory will become more or less irrelevant come the start of next season. If SKC want their 2017 US Open Cup to be included in a dynasty they’ll need some silverware next year. Kansas City are usually in contention for a trophy or two so I think they have a chance to do so.

4. Houston Dynamo (1 US Open Cup in 2018)

At least Houston have the potential for consecutive trophy years. However, considering that Houston is currently the lowest spending team in the league, and this was their first trophy since 2007, I won’t be holding my breath. They only edge out SKC by winning a trophy this year rather than last year

3. New York Red Bulls (2 Supporter’s Shields one in 2018, one in 2015)

The Red Bulls are in a similar place to SKC, two recent non-MLS Cup trophies and just missing MLS Cup this year. They get the edge over SKC due to winning a trophy this year as opposed to last year. Of recent, the red side of New York have been Would-Be-Kings: losing in the US Open Cup Final in 2017 to Sporting Kansas City, losing in the playoffs last year on away goals to eventual champions Toronto FC, losing in the semi-final of CONCACAF Champions League against Chivas earlier in 2018, and losing the Eastern Conference Championship not long ago to Atlanta United. If the Red Bulls caught a few more lucky breaks they would be sitting on 4 more trophies over the last 2 years. Alas, the same could be said for many of these teams. Since the Red Bulls haven’t missed the playoffs since 2007, I suspect they have a decent chance to add to their trophy case next year.

2. Atlanta United (1 MLS Cup in 2018)

There’s definitely something special going on in Atlanta. The Five Stripes place higher than the previous teams ranked because they already have MLS Cup in their possession and that is the one essential trophy. While Atlanta’s spending suggests that they could have a dynasty in the making, Head Coach Tata Martino is leaving and it seems talisman Almiron may also leave this winter. Assuming the rumors of their respective departures are true, I am interested to see how the team replaces those two. If they nail those replacements, which seems likely, then they may have a dynasty-in-the-making. Atlanta are the only team that could really challenge this 6th criteria I added above. But even after losing Tata, Almiron, and Garza, the team still has key players like Martinez, (likely) Parkhurst, Nagbe, and Pirez on the books for next year. So they still have some level of continuity, and still meet the 6th criteria.

1. Tornto FC (1 MLS Cup, 1 Supporter’s Shield, 3 Canadian Championships since 2016)

As of 2018, Toronto are easily the closest team to a building an MLS Dynasty. Currently, Toronto have 5 trophies over the course of 3 years. While it is tempting to extend their dynasty backward/forward 2 years in order to meet the 5 year requirement it would violate the 5th criteria I included. It doesn’t really make sense to count a year at the beginning and/or end where a trophy was not won. Therefore, I would not call them a dynasty right now. Any trophy won in 2019 and/or 2020 would change that. I’m also not totally against a dynasty that lasts only 4 years. Toronto definitely meet the 6th criteria as Bradley, Jozy, and Giovinco were centerpieces of this team for the last 3 years.

There are those who would devalue the Canadian Championship because it is “easier to win” than the US Open Cup. I don’t like this argument but I have to admit there is some logic to it. In 2018, there were 20 MLS teams and 22 USL teams that competed for the US Open Cup. Meanwhile there were 3 MLS teams and 1 USL team that competed for the Canadian Championship. That’s a 1/42 chance of any team winning US Open Cup vs. a 1/4 chance of any team winning the Canadian Championship. That being said, a trophy is a trophy is a trophy. For now I weigh the Canadian Championship as much as the US Open Cup.

That’s all I have for now! Let me know if you have any questions about my definition/ranking. I am more than willing to have a nice, level-headed discussion about it 🙂