The condensed nature of the 2020 season has opened doors for homegrown players to seize their moment across MLS. That trend continued in Week 12 with academy products scoring key goals, making debuts and dropping dimes this past weekend.
Made in Colorado
The Rapids vaulted into the Western Conference playoff race with a 2-0 win at the LA Galaxy, and they marched towards three points with a 40th-minute goal from Cole Bassett. The 19-year-old midfielder cushioned home a pinpoint cross from left back Sam Vines, another Homegrown who’s penciled into the starting XI.
D.C. United clawed back a point against Toronto FC in Saturday’s 2-2 draw thanks to a late equalizer from Homegrown forward Griffin Yow. The 17-year-old volleyed home a tougher-than-it-looks goal in the 88th minute, his first in MLS since signing early in the 2019 campaign. Even further, fellow homegrowns Kevin Paredes and Moses Nyeman were on the pitch when D.C. fought back against this year’s MLS representative in the Canadian Championship final.
More Philly magic
When Anthony Fontana entered the 2020 season, his third with Philadelphia, he had two goals in 13 matches. The Homegrown midfielder now has three in his last two games, scoring the Union’s fourth in a 4-1 rout of a shorthanded Montreal Impact side after entering as a halftime substitute. Attacking midfielder Brenden Aaronson and center back Mark McKenzie, two other homegrown standouts, each had an assist in the victory, as did left back Matthew Real.
Ayo Akinola scored off the bench for Toronto FC in their 2-2 draw at D.C. United, giving the TFC academy product his first goal since his five-goal outburst at the MLS is Back Tournament in July. The 20-year-old fought through injuries this summer and had been held goalless upon his return, though perhaps he’s rounding into form.
Scally makes history
NYCFC right back Joe Scally became the youngest player to start a match in NYCFC history at 17 years, 8 months and 20 days. He went 65 minutes in his first start and second-ever MLS appearance, and is set to join Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach in January after a seven-figure transfer fee originated in November.
Michel adds another
Benji Michel now has three goals for Orlando City this season with his latest coming in the 95th minute of a 4-1 demolition of Chicago Fire FC on Saturday night. He received a squared pass inside the 18-yard box, cut onto his left foot and confidently finished to the far corner.
Montreal Impact defender Karifa Yao made his debut in Sunday's 4-1 loss against Philadelphia, logging 37 minutes off the bench. The Canada youth international originally signed a homegrown player deal in June 2019.
Columbus Crew SC striker Gyasi Zardes and Inter Miami CF forward Juan Agudelo are homegrowns from a different MLS era, though both scored key goals last weekend. Zardes, who entered MLS in 2013 as an LA Galaxy homegrown, banked home a wonderful backheel flick in a 2-0 win over Nashville SC. Agudelo, originally a New York Red Bulls homegrown, scored in the 2nd minute of Miami's 2-1 win at Atlanta.
Although he didn't get on the scoresheet, Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Russell Teibert started and went 73 minutes in their 2-1 victory at Real Salt Lake. It's the clubs third W in four games, which has propelled them up the Western Conference standings.
As Crew SC also rack up the W's, homegrown center back Aboubacar Keita returned to the starting lineup and helped his team to the shutout win over Nashville. After his defensive miscue led to the Crew's only loss of the year against NYCFC on Aug. 24, Keita spent the next four games as an unused sub on the bench before getting the nod again for the Nashville match.
Sticking to the backline, aside from Vines and Real (mentioned above), it was a strong weekend for homegrown left backs around MLS. Marco Farfan went 90 minutes during Portland's 6-1 win at the San Jose Earthquakes, and Atlanta's George Bello continues to be a bright spot despite their 2-1 loss at home against Inter Miami.
Given their homegrown emphasis, it should come as no surprise that FC Dallas had three academy products in their XI for Saturday's 3-2 win at Sporting Kansas City. Brandon Servania and Tanner Tessmann both started in midfield, while right back Bryan Reynolds continues to rather seamlessly replace Reggie Cannon after the latter was sold to Boavista FC. Even though they came out on the wrong end of a tightly-contested match, SKC Homegrown midfielders Gianluca Busio and Felipe Hernandez both started and went 90 minutes.