Over the weekend we saw one of the most dominating team performances in recent memory, as the LA Galaxy demolished the Colorado Rapids 6-0 after Joe Nasco received the fastest red card in MLS history. Two of these goals came from a player who boldly promised after he was signed that his skills would blow our minds.
With those two goals against the Rapids, Gyasi Zardes brought his regular-season goal tally for the season up to 14. That breaks the single-season goalscoring record for a Homegrown Player set by Diego Fagundez last season, when he scored 13 for the New England Revolution.
In 2008, the Homegrown Player rule was put into effect, allowing teams to sign players they developed through their academies. Tristan Bowen was the first player signed under this new rule in November of that year, and since then we have seen 108 more players sign Homegrown contracts.
The success of these players has been varied, but there is no doubt that their impact on clubs is only increasing. Bill Hamid recently became the first Homegrown Player to play in 100 career games in MLS, while players like Wil Trapp, Russell Teibert and Victor Ulloa have been mainstays for their clubs this season.
A few players have even had opportunities overseas after a couple seasons in MLS. Andy Najar and Juan Agudelo made their way to Europe after signing with their hometown clubs in March 2010, and DeAndre Yedlin will soon be the third player to make the jump, as he will sign with Tottenham Hotspur after this season.
As far as tangible output is concerned, though, Zardes is in a similarly small club, one of just six Homegrown Players to score more than two goals in a season, and he has done it twice. Below is a list of the top Homegrown goalscorers in a single season – keep in mind that less than 20 percent of the Homegrowns signed so far could be described as a forward, and many are yet to come close to hitting their primes.
|Most goals scored by a Homegrown (single season)|
Last week, MLS Commissioner Don Garber noted the growing importance of the MLS academy system and the players it produces. The breakout of Zardes this season, not to mention strong campaigns from players like Fagundez and Harry Shipp, could just be the start of what we will see out of Homegrown Players over the next few years.