ExLink - 07/31/18 - Homegrown Game

MLS Homegrown Team vs. Tigres UANL U-20
2018 MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground — Marietta
July 31 - 8 pm ET
WATCH: UDN, Twitter

Some of the best and brightest young talent from Major League Soccer and Liga MX will be on display, when the MLS Homegrown Team meet Tigres UANL U-20s in the fifth annual MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer, Tuesday night at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground, part of a week of events during 2018 MLS All-Star Atlanta.

Atlanta United Academy director Tony Annan will serve as the head coach for the Homegrown Team against Tigres. Annan, who helped build Atlanta’s academy from the ground up and brings over 20 years of youth development experience to the match, coached the club’s U-17 squad to a national title in the first year of the program.

The game is an opportunity to showcase the growth of the league’s youth development system. MLS academies have produced over 150 Homegrown Players who have signed professional contracts with MLS clubs, with academy products logging a record number of goals, assists, minutes and games played in 2017.

Tigres, the reigning Liga MX U-20 champions, feature a roster of 20 for this game, including seven current members of the club's first-team roster, and several players who have already gotten experience in senior-level competition.

MLS Homegrown Team

The 20-player MLS Homegrown Team roster features many familiar names, including several players who are regular starters for their senior squads. Included on that list are the Philadelphia Union central defense pairing of Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty, D.C. United central midfielder Chris Durkin and Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Saucedo.

All but five players on the roster have seen first team minutes this season, though that includes 16-year-old LA Galaxy phenom Efrain Alvarez, who helped lead LA to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s Under-18/19 championship final, where they lost on PKs to NYCFC, who is represented by defender/midfielder James Sands.

Tigres UANL U-20

After beating Club America to win the Liga MX U-20 title in May, Tigres UANL is looking for regional bragging rights Tuesday night against the MLS Homegrown Team. Six players on the roster are members of the Tigres senior roster, including forward Luis Cruz, who is also a member of the Mexican U-20 national team.

Tigres opened defense of their title by knocking off Leon, 3-1, with midfielder Leal Cruz striking for a brace and forward Luis Cruz adding a second half goal. That was followed by a 2-0 victory over Club Tijuana on goals by Bryan Reyes and Luis Cruz.

MLS Homegrown Game History

After the MLS Homegrowns faced the Portland Timbers U-23s in the inaugural MLS Homegrown Game, the match has pitted some of the best young talent in MLS against their neighbors from the south.

This is the third match against Liga MX competition, with Club America prevailing on PKs in 2015 and the MLS Homegrown Team playing Chivas de Guadalajara to a 2-2 draw a year ago. In 2016, Mexico’s U-20 national team defeated the MLS Homegrown Team, 2-0.