Socio MLS kicks off in LA and Houston

NEW YORK — In recent years, MLS has made the finding and developing of homegrown talent a priority. Generation adidas, the expansion of the homegrown player rules, and Sueno MLS have all helped identify potential players.

Now, Socio MLS presented by Degree Men, the membership program that works with local Hispanic soccer leagues, is expanding.

The league announced on Tuesday that in 2010, Socio MLS, which was based in Los Angeles alone last year, will include Houston. The program, which receives support from Degree Men, Castrol, and Adidas, will now reach nearly 25,000 Hispanic communities.

Players in local leagues will have access to free Youth Level II Diploma course through the NSCAA and referee clinics administered by the US Soccer Federation and state associations.

Furthermore, scouts from the three participating MLS clubs, Chivas USA, LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo, will be watching the leagues in search of talent. The 2009 pilot program saw eight players selected to train with the Chivas USA and LA Galaxy academies.

This year, former Chivas USA forward Francisco “Paco” Palencia, who now plays for Mexican Primera División club Pumas, will serve as the official program ambassador for Socio MLS presented by Degree Men. Palencia himself is completing his professional coaching license, and will attend events in Los Angeles and Houston as part of his ambassadorship.

“I’m very proud to be part of Socio MLS presented by Degree Men, a program which helps create stronger ties with the Hispanic community in the United States,” Palencia said in a statement. “As a former MLS player, I am dedicated to supporting the development of coaches, referees and players within this valuable program.”

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