The LA Galaxy have signed forward Tristan Bowen to a multi-year contract, the club announced Wednesday. Bowen, who is a native of Van Nuys, Calif., is the first player in Galaxy history to be signed from the Galaxy's youth development program. Bowen is also the first player in MLS history to be signed by a club through the league's Youth Development Initiative that was unveiled in November 2006.
The 17-year old Van Nuys, Calif. native will occupy a spot on the Galaxy's Developmental Roster after being selected as a member of Major League Soccer's Generation adidas program, meaning that his salary will not count toward the club's salary budget. Per team and league policy, details of the contract were not released.
"Tristan is an exciting and talented young player who has impressed me and all of our coaches during his time training with the club," Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena said. "He has many of the attributes which are required in order to become a good player in MLS and has shown the drive and desire to improve all areas of his game. We are excited to have him join the club and look forward to seeing him grow in a Galaxy uniform."
A member of the United States Under-18 and Under-20 National Teams, Bowen became the inaugural member of the Galaxy's youth development program in 2007 after he was identified by the club during the annual Open Tryout in February. Bowen was a member of the U-17 teams that represented the Galaxy at the 2007 and 2008 SUM Under-17 Cup in Colorado, as well as one of the top scorers for the Galaxy U-20 team that won the USL Super-20 League title this season.
Bowen, who trained with the Galaxy for much of the season, played in four Reserve Division matches for the club at the end of the 2008 season, making three starts. He is eligible to play for the club during the club's friendly against an Oceania All-Star Team in Auckland, New Zealand on December 6 and will be eligible to make his MLS debut during the 2009 campaign. Prior to the Galaxy leaving for New Zealand, Bowen will accompany the U.S. Under-20 National Team to Madrid, Spain for a week-long training camp from Nov. 15-23. Bowen and the U.S. will play friendlies against reserve teams from Real Madrid (Nov. 19), Athletico Madrid (Nov. 20) and Rayo Vallecano to round out the trip on Nov. 22.
"I'm really excited to be signing with the Galaxy so that I can stay at home here in Los Angeles. It's been a great experience training with the first team and with the academy and I'm looking forward to getting started," Bowen said. "It really hasn't set in but it feels great. It's an honor to be the first player to move up from the academy to the first team and I can only hope for the best."
The Galaxy first developed the club's youth development program in April 2007. Featuring U-16 and U-18 teams which compete in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and a U-20 team which plays in the USL Super-20 League, the program aims to identify and train the best young and talented players in the region. Under the direction of Director of Player Development Trevor James, the teams receive coaching and instruction from some of the top coaches in the area while utilizing the same facilities as the Galaxy professionals. Since the program's inception, more than 70 players have been identified by the club and today play in the program for the U-16, U-18 or U-20 teams, with no players having to pay the registration fees that are typically associated with similar club soccer programs.
In November 2006, Major League Soccer unveiled the league's Youth Development Initiative that allows teams to train and acquire top young players from their local area outside of the annual MLS SuperDraft. The goal of this initiative is to enhance the quality of young players entering MLS and allow more of them to represent their hometown teams.