Watching the young 2010 Sueño MLS finalists take on the Chivas USA U-16 Youth Academy team at The Home Depot Center on Saturday morning, one couldn’t help but notice two familiar faces among the scattered crowd in the bleachers.
Watch: Sueño MLS tryouts, L.A.
Chivas USA’s head coach Martín Vásquez and vice president of soccer operations Stephen Hamilton watched the entire match, and then greeted the coaches and players afterward. This was just eight hours before the Goats’ big showdown against Houston that night.
“We’re interested in seeing our guys and very pleased with their style of play,” said Vásquez. “It’s good to see them trying things.”
The Chivas youth system has been fruitful for the Red-and-White. The Goats’ first team roster currently boasts four former academy players in Jorge Flores, Carlos Borja, Cesar Zamora and Gerson Mayén.
The success of MLS youth systems has always been vital to the success of the club’s first team, but it has become even more so this season in the wake of the April 8 announcement that the league would grant two extra roster spots to each team for homegrown players.
“The youth system has become even more important for all the teams across MLS,” said Hamilton shortly after the April 8 announcement. “The homegrown program makes it easier and more valuable because now there’s more incentive for these players to graduate and become part of the first team.”
Chivas have already used one of their homegrown player spots for Cesar Zamora, and they are looking to fill the second.
“In the U-18 [Chivas USA] academy team, there are two or three good players right now that we’re looking at the possibility of bringing up,” Vásquez said. “I think it’s going to keep improving the level in the youth program. More players will be interested in coming into our program and getting that opportunity.”
Beyond simply checking in on their own youth system, Vásquez and Hamilton were also scouting the Sueño MLS side for potential players. With four of the finalists residing in South California, they saw a good opportunity to add names to the Chivas youth system.
“The other objective is to look at the other boys that are trying to attain their dream,” Vásquez said. “We’ve been pleased with the talent, and we have a couple of players that we’ve identified. It’s great that they have this opportunity to play in this beautiful stadium.”
The game ended with a 2-0 victory in favor of the Chivas USA U-16s, but the contest was certainly a success for both sides. And for Vásquez and Hamilton, the chance to see two teams’ worth of some of the best young players in the country was more important than the scoreline.
“This was great,” Vásquez said with a smile. “It’s like killing two birds with one stone.”