Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The future stars of Major League Soccer will be on display on Monday evening in the first annual MLS Homegrown Player game.
The 20-man MLS Homegrown squad will take on the Portland Timbers Under-23s on Monday night at Providence Park, kicking off the MLS All-Star Game festivities, and featuring some rising stars that could be suiting up for the U.S. Men’s National Team in the future.
While some of the players are still raw and battling for a spot in their respective club’s lineup, there are a few who have broken through and are regular starters for their teams.
Will Trapp, Gyasi Zardes, Harry Shipp, Dillon Serna, and Shane O’Neill are all expected to start the match for the Homegrown squad, which will be coached by MLS Director of Player Programs Alfonso Mondelo. Along with goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who has MLS experience from 2013 under his belt, the homegrown side has a strong spine in 2014.
Trapp has proved in the last 12 months to be one of, if not the most important player on the field for the Columbus Crew each week as they battle to make the playoffs. Zardes has taken a big step forward this season, improving his finishing rate to eight goals already, including five goals in his last five games.
Shipp has been arguably the best rookie in MLS this season, scoring six goals and assisting on five others as he’s locked down a position on the left side or as a second striker for the Chicago Fire. Meanwhile, the Colorado Rapids pair of Shane O’Neill and Dillon Serna are enjoying strong seasons, O’Neill building off his first full season in the lineup while Serna has received his first taste of first team soccer.
Even outside of the players who are regulars for their clubs, there are a number of exciting prospects who will have a chance to impress.
The 17-year-old Sporting KC centerback Erik Palmer-Brown was thrown into the fire last May due to injuries and international call-ups but had a regrettable debut, picking up two yellow cards in a 2-1 defeat to the Fire. However, he recovered in his next two matches, producing solid performances, including going the full 90 in a 2-0 victory at the Houston Dynamo.
Palmer-Brown is also the only current MLS player to be born in 1997.
Other players to keep an eye on include Canadian international Russell Teibert, who has produced some thrilling moments for the Vancouver Whitecaps in his two years with the first team, the Philadelphia Union’s Zach Pfeffer, who spent the last year with Hoffenheim in Germany and is a regular for the U-20 USMNT, and Mexican youngster Carlos Salcedo, who has featured for Real Salt Lake in each of the last two seasons.
In addition, Tommy Thompson, who is finally over his knee struggles, is a player who has a very bright future for the San Jose Earthquakes and could make a few heads turn at the MLS Homegrown game.
What do you think of this match? Which players are you most looking forward to see?
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