Top Stories

MLS Notes: Bliss joins U.S. U-20 staff, Portland’s first Homegrown deal & more


Columbus Crew technical director Brian Bliss can add U.S. Under-20 national team assistant coach to his resume after becoming the first assistant appointed to Tab Ramos' staff on Wednesday.

Bliss will maintain his duties with the Crew while assuming the added international responsibilities. He is currently with Ramos to help lead the U-20 camp that is taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and he will also be present at the MLS Combine, which happens to take place in the same city and begins on Friday.

Bliss, a former U.S. international, was an assistant coach for the Kansas City Wizards from 2000-2006 before taking over the head coaching duties on an interim basis for a brief period. More recently, he has had a big hand with the Crew's U-20 program and youth teams.

Here are a couple of more items from around MLS:


University of Washington forward Brent Richards became the first Homegrown Player for the Portland Timbers franchise after signing a deal with the club on Wednesday.

The circumstances surrounding how Richards could sign a Homegrown deal with Portland are a bit unique, considering he had no affiliation with the club's youth academy. He was a standout performer for the Timbers' U-23 PDL side for the last three years, and he was also a member of Eastside United, a Timbers-affiliated youth club, during Portland's USL days.

Richards had an extremely productive four years at Washington, where he led the Huskies in scoring every season he was there and finished his career with 31 goals. He scored 10 goals this past season.


Collen Warner became the latest American to train abroad this winter, taking his game to England in the build-up to the MLS preseason. The Montreal Impact midfielder just started a 10-day stint with League Championship club Brighton & Hove Albion as he gets ready for his first year in Montreal and third season in MLS.

Warner had been with Real Salt Lake for the past two years, but he was left unprotected for the expansion draft and was scooped up by Impact coach Jesse Marsch and his staff.


Think Bliss is a good hire for the U-20s? What do you make of Richards' Homegrown deal? Think Warner will have a breakout season in Montreal?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. First of all, if all it took was PDL connections, the Fire could have been allowed to sign Jay DeMerit, Ricardo Clark, Brad Guzan, Teal Bunbury, Drew Moor, Dasan Robinson, Matt Pickens, Brad Ring, Chris Rolfe, Jonathan Spector, Michael Stephens, and Tim Ream as homegrown players. Obviously MLS did not allow this.

  2. This has nothing to do with PDL, other than the fact the HGP continued training with an affiliated team for the last two seasons!

  3. It’s not your fault you didn’t know the facts. On the other hand, it is your fault that you keep going on about it, even after the facts have been pointed out to you.

  4. The major difference is that the Timbers have been involved with this kid and his club even longer than the Union has been with its youth players.

  5. Of course the HGP claim wasn’t filed five years ago — the Portland Timbers were a USL team team — I”m not even sure Paulson owned the team at the time. An expansion MLS team? I guess it was ian idea in someone’s mind, but not so far advanced they would put in a Homegrown claim with a league they weren’t part of…notwithstanding the fact that MLS didn’t even have a Homegrown program yet.

  6. They were an MLS team two years ago. Portland was awarded an MLS team in March of 2009. While the team didn’t take the field until 2011 the CEO and GM of the MLS team have been in place since the MLS team was announced. Sounds like they filed paperwork for the MLS team to have rights to him as a homegrown player shortly after the team was awarded.

  7. Very strange report from US Soccer. Why would their clubs hold them out at this time of year if not because of trade.
    USSOCCER “Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) and George John (FC Dallas) both were given approval to withdraw from the roster prior to the start of camp in order to deal with club-related matters.”


    Omar Gonzalez and George John withdrew from the January camp for “Club reasons”. Hopefully this means they are getting transferred and not having secong thoughts on committing to the USMNT program

  9. MLS has gotta slide PDX a preemptive bone… cuz SSFC has their own sweetheart deal with the FO coming up shortly.

    Think about it…

  10. There is both precedent and some unique concessions made by MLS for expansion teams at play here. First, the precedent: Just recently LA was able to claim Jose Villarreal because his youth side have a partnership with LA (despite the kid going off to play for Pateadores for a bit which doesn’t have that partnership). Second and most importantly, MLS allowed a grandfathering of sorts for Vancouver and Portland since both had these youth connections when they were NASL/USL teams. So it’s not quite the same as Philly trying to claim Hertzog.

    Anyway, I agree the HGP rules are byzantine, but that’s the nature of the league at this point and the nature of the countries fragmented youth soccer system. In your criticism you come off as bitter more than concerned for the legitimacy of the league.

  11. You’re mistaking MLS creation with being the end-all to the discussion. But contractually that is not the case with players rights. They moved from the former franchise to the current franchise. Philly has no such excuse.

  12. “They weren’t MLS then”

    This flies in the face of how MLS allowed the Timbers to carry over all the players they wanted from their D2 team. They didn’t start completely fresh. The player rights that were held by the minor league franchise were grandfathered in to the MLS franchise. Ergo, all affiliations carried over too.

  13. The Union, to my knowledge, has signed two players to HGP contracts. Both are still under 18 years old and have signed in the last 12 months. Both have played in competitions for the Union youth teams. Completely different from this situation.

  14. Club connection is meaningless. Why don’t you understand that? They weren’t an MLS team then. So it is worth nothing.

    Two years ago he was a player on the PDL-affiliated team. A claim that MLS has denied in past situations.

  15. As it turns out, Philadelphia has been denied claims based on the EXACT SAME criteria as this Portland one. The Union tried to sign Corey Hertzog as a HGP and were denied. By this criteria, it should be able to sign Andrew Wenger and Billy Schuler, too, if they wanted. Both played on its PDL-affiliated team last year. That is the point. The rules that apply to one team don’t apply to the other. And MLS loses credibility.

  16. Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced they have signed 17-year-old Bryce Alderson to a home grown contract. [Dated Nov 17, 2011]

    Where’s the vitriol there? Not one year has passed as an MLS team.

  17. Then how does Vancouver do it too?

    Philly had no club affiliation prior to MLS, nor did Seattle, RSL, or Toronto prior to entering MLS. Again, how does Vancouver do it too? By having a club affiliation that extends beyond MLS but also carries with the transition to MLS.

  18. It’s not your fault that you don’t understand the MLS HGP rules. What you are claiming happened COULD NOT have happened. He couldn’t have been a Timbers youth player because the MLS Portland Timbers didn’t exist.

    All the talk about his youth club is meaningless. That’s not relevant in any way. He was granted HGP status due to his playing on the PDL team. In other circumstances, that has been denied as a reason to be granted HGP status. THAT is the crux of the problem. I could care less about this kid and where he plays. The problem is the inconsistent rules that MLS uses. They change every day and with no logic or reason. THAT is the problem.

    (SBI-You’re wrong. Richards was part of a youth program the USL Timbers were funding and MLS agreed to grandfather in players who took part in that program. So Richards didn’t gain his HGP status from the PDL participation, but that did help him maintain his college years requirements (HGP who go to college must keep training with MLS teams to some degree to keep status). What MLS did differently here was grandfather in kids from that old youth program, but considering the program was affiliated with the USL Timbers, run by the Timbers GM and funded by the current Timbers owner, they have a pretty good case for Richards being their HGP.)

  19. Merritt Tweets:

    @SoccerByIves he was coached by my GM/head coach for 5 yrs at eastside united while I paid gm’s wages. Eastside was feeder to timbers.

    So, ESUFC was affiliated [in another tweet] in the full sense of the word with the Timbers organization the eventually became the MLS Timbers. Another tweet Merritt claims he was given HG status two years ago, basically as soon as possible.

  20. You don’t know what you are talking about. First of all, the Timbers don’t have a U23 team. They have an affiliation with a PDL franchise. Historically, MLS has NOT allowed the signing of those players to HGP contracts. Educate yourself.

  21. First of all, the Portland Timbers weren’t an MLS team when he was a youth player. Secondly, playing on MLS-affiliated PDL teams has not, in the past, a sufficient enough connection to allow singing as a home grown player. Perhaps you should look into Corey Hertzog for a similar situation.

    The issue is that the MLS changes the rules on the fly. It allows one club to do one thing then denies the opportunity to another club to do the exact same thing. Either allow it across the board or disallow it. But stop changing the rules every other minute.

  22. He’s played for the Timbers U-23 club for the past 3 years. The same U-23 that still owned an run by Merritt Paulson (CEO of the MLS Timbers). How can say the Timbers Organization has “had absolutely nothing to do with the development of this player”?

  23. I guess you are hunting, trolling.

    what part did you not understand?

    “He was a standout performer for the Timbers’ U-23 PDL side for the last three years, and he was also a member of Eastside United, a Timbers-affiliated youth club, during Portland’s USL days.”

  24. MLS Home Grown Player rules are an absolute joke. The Timbers had absolutely nothing to do with the development of this player and, meanwhile, other players who have played with MLS-affiliated PDL teams are denied the opportunity to sign as homegrown players. Until the MLS has open, consistent and fair rules and stops making them up as they go the league will never be legitimate.


Leave a Comment