On Wednesday, Sporting Kansas City signed 19-year-old Hungarian forward Daniel Salloi.
It's a signing that wouldn't normally raise many eyebrows, save for the fact that he was signed as a Homegrown Player.
Salloi had recently been playing for Ujpest in Hungary’s first division after signing an amateur contract with the club in July 2015. He had appeared in 12 games for the 20-time Hungarian champions, scoring one goal.
Prior to signing with Ujpest, Salloi had been playing for Sporting’s U-18 side. He joined the team after arriving in Overland Park, Kansas in August 2014 as an AFS exchange student. He joined Kansas City’s academy shortly thereafter and scored 21 goals in 28 appearances during the 2014-15 USSDA season.
While growing up in Hungary, Salloi had been a part of Ujpest’s academy at many different youth levels.
So you might be asking yourself, how could Salloi be a Homegrown signing for Sporting after spending less than a year in the US?
An interview that was conducted with Ali Curtis, now sporting director at the New York Red Bulls, back in September 2014 might give us the answer to that question.
Curtis, then the Senior Director of Player Relations and Competition for Major League Soccer, gave some guidelines for Homegrown eligibility in an interview that was conducted by MLSsoccer.com.
When asked what it takes for a player to be eligible as a Homegrown signing, the current Red Bulls Sporting Director said, “[Players] generally have to be in a team’s academy for at least one year and that one year has to be prior to entering college. You have to have resided in the local area for at least a year and then you have to meet the training requirements.”
For a player to meet the training requirements, he must participate in at least 80 training sessions with the club.
Curtis added that, “if a club legitimately trains and influences the development of a player and at a basic level are aiding in the development of a player and get him to a point where he can be a professional they’re able to sign the player to their roster.”
It's a similar idea to one practiced in the world of basketball, where foreign players attend American high schools before college.
A recent example is Cheick Diallo, who grew up in Mali and came to the US as a 15-year-old in hopes of continuing his basketball career. After spending three years at a high school in Long Island, New York, Diallo became one of the top prospects in the country. He signed with the University of Kansas and was recently deemed eligible to play.
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Diallo is far from the first player to do this and will not be the last. One of next year’s top basketball recruits, Thon Maker, made a similar trek across the globe to attend an American high school.
Salloi came to the US to further his education and ended up joining a MLS team in less than a year and a half. Could we end up seeing more of this future?