Development League?

Interesting to contrast this...
M.L.S. has become a popular way station for young talent from throughout the Western Hemisphere seeking passage to Europe’s top ranks.


In 2006, M.L.S. counted 36 players from the Caribbean, Central America and South America. By last April, the number was 107, a 197 percent increase over six years and a 37 percent rise from March 2011. In those six years, the league has grown to 19 teams from a dozen, but the number of American- and Canadian-born players is up only 35 percent.
...with this...
At a time when MLS is touting its development of young professionals through so-called “homegrown” signings, a majority of those prospects are not getting on the field. Some have been outright discarded.

Without a functional system in place to give such players actual game experience, MLS risks stagnating their development, thus also likely curbing the long-term growth of the American player pool.
Hmmm. Growing pains? Obligation to the bottom line before development of domestic players? Natural progression? I wonder if the current English Premier League and 90's Serie A contain teaching/talking points here?


  1. An interesting conundrum Michael.

    Most of the players being signed from south of the border are more of a finished product I'd guess. They've played at least a couple of seasons professionally, even if it's in a relatively weak league like Guatemala's or Panama's.

    The homegrown players are coming from playing academy games. I've never been but I'm guessing that is mainly watched by parents, coaches and a scout or two. Even college players (apart from a handful of programs) are playing in front of a couple hundred fans max and only playing 20-25 games a year.

    We're missing that middle level. No idea how to get it. Just observing what's missing.

  2. The interesting context is that ostensibly, the league was founded to improve the US player pool, but it's becoming a tool to develop the market value of South Americans.

    The obvious next step (in my entirely amateur opinion) is a continuation of the process started by some MLS clubs with U-23 sides playing in lower tiers (PDL) providing a next step for academy players into competitive ball and more links between USL, NASL, and MLS for the purposes of getting loan minutes for players who aren't quite ready for MLS primetime.

    I'm not entirely pessimistic; I do see (from my limited vantage point) progress being made, and I'm fully aware that this is a long slog, not a sprint.