Teenagers prove MLS youth is served in Week 21
It certainly smells like teen spirit these days in Major League Soccer.
OK, so the teenage stars who lit up the scoreboards over the weekend might be too young to get that Nirvana reference, but there's no denying that now is as good a time as any to be young and talented in MLS. With the production levels of teams’ Home Grown and academy players soaring, the performances of youngsters like these may just be the difference between a playoff side and one on the outside looking in.
Or, they could just offer a glimpse into the future of MLS, ready to send their own fans into a frenzy.
Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution): The 16-year-old (above) had a debut to remember. Albeit in a loss, the Home Grown signee came on as a substitute against Chivas USA and became an instant contributor. The Uruguayan forward drew a penalty just two minutes after his entrance and cut the Revs’ deficit in half, then notched a goal of his own in the 85th minute. The Revolution can only hope that it is the first of many. Watch Fagundez score here.
Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake): The Under-20 US national team member tallied his first career MLS goal against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday and paced Real Salt Lake to a 3-0 home win. The 17-year-old beat Red Bulls goalkeeper Frank Rost just before halftime and doubled RSL’s advantage heading into the break. New York couldn't recover, and the Southern Californian was subbed off in the 67th minute after a brilliant performance. Watch Gil score here.
Orr Barouch (Chicago Fire): Chicago fell 4-2 to Vancouver on Sunday, but an 80th-minute strike from 19-year-old Barouch gave the Fire something positive to take with them back to the Windy City. It was the second goal of the season in league play for the Israeli forward, who came on as a substitute in the 56th minute for the newly-acquired Sebastián Grazzini. It has been a promising campaign so far for Barouch, who also found the back of the net twice in last month’s US Open Cup quarterfinal win over the New York Red Bulls. Watch Barouch score here.
Gershon Koffie (Vancouver Whitecaps): Koffie countered Barouch’s tally with a goal of his own for the Whitecaps. The Ghanaian forward gave the ‘Caps a 2-1 lead in the 24th minute off a feed from Eric Hassli for his first career MLS goal. The 19-year-old has been a staple in Vancouver’s midfield, starting 17 of the club’s 23 games, and was finally rewarded with his name in the stat sheet. Watch Koffie score here.
Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union): The 19-year-old Generation Adidas signee put the Union on the scoreboard first in the 15th minute of their 1-1 draw at home against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday. It was the first time McInerney had found the back of the net this season, after hammering home three goals last year. The Georgia native made the most of his first action with the senior team in nearly a month, getting the start and going 66 minutes to help earn Philadelphia a point at PPL Park. Watch McInerney score here.