Nicolas Mezquida - Edwin Cerrillo - DALvCOL - 2019-03-23

A batch of internationals were away on national-team duty during a truncated MLS Week 4 schedule, and it helped craft an opportunity that was seized by Homegrown Players across the league.

HGPS were particularly crucial for FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, already two of the league’s leading #PlayYourKids advocates.

FCD matched an MLS record by fielding six Homegrowns in one game on Saturday afternoon (including a first start for Edwin Cerrillo, pictured above), five in the starting XI and a sixth off the bench in the form of 17-year-old playmaker Thomas Roberts.

GOAL: Ryan Hollingshead capitalizes on a rebound

And sure enough, both of Dallas’ goals in the 2-1 win over Colorado had academy products centrally involved: Jesus Ferreira played the pass that led to Michael Barrios’ opener before Roberts played in Zdenek Ondrasek on the sequence that ended in Ryan Hollingshead’s game-winner. On the other side, the Rapids started Homegrowns Dillon Serna and Cole Bassett, both going the full 90.

A few hours later RSL upstaged the North Texans by starting a whopping six HGPs vs. LAFC, setting a new MLS record. A seventh Salt Lake Homegrown entered in the final minutes as Luis Arriaga,18  made his MLS debut as a substitute.

In Orlando City’s 1-0 upset win at the New York Red Bulls, RBNY started three Homegrowns – Sean Davis, Connor Lade and Alex Muyl – and brought a fourth, Omir Fernandez, off the bench.

The Philadelphia Union, another increasingly academy-oriented club, handed Homegrown rookie Brenden Aaronson his second consecutive start on Saturday night, and he was late replaced by another HGP, Anthony Fontana, with nine minutes to go, while Homegrown center back Auston Trusty got the nod as usual in the resounding 3-0 defeat of Columbus Crew SC.

The San Jose Earthquakes were off from league play this weekend but kept busy with a friendly vs. Liga MX titans CF Monterrey, and two teenage Homegrowns were right in the thick of things. Gilbert Fuentes and 15-year-old Cade Cowell made second-half cameos, marking Cowell's club debut – and he went and scored the Quakes' goal, assisted by fellow HGP Tommy Thompson, in the 2-1 loss.

On Sunday, HGP Diego Fagundez logged a full 90 minutes for the New England Revolution in their 2-0 home defeat to FC Cincinnati.