By FRANCO PANIZO
PORTLAND, Ore. — The consensus on Monday was that the inaugural MLS Homegrown Game was a bit of a snoozer, but the young players that took part in it fully enjoyed the experience and like the league’s initiative to provide them with an opportunity to showcase their skills.
Even if it could be drastically better.
The MLS Homegrown Game ended in a scoreless draw on Monday night, as neither the Homegrown team nor the Portland Timbers Under-23s were able to muster up much accuracy or quality in front of goal. The sloppiness that was prevalent in the final third and throughout most of the rest of the match was expected given the lack of familiarity between the players, but not even that was enough to dispirit the wide-eyed youngsters who played in front of a respectable crowd at Providence Park.
“I thought this was a great experience, everybody coming from their club, representing their club and coming together as Homegrowns,” said LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes. “I think the league is moving forward, giving us something to look forward to because we’re not making the first All-Star Game but making the Homegrown one. I think it’s great.”
As enjoyable as it may have been to take part in the inaugural MLS Homegrown Game, there are certain aspects that could be tinkered with or improved all together. For starters, most of the MLS players flew into Portland on Sunday and had a simple walkthrough on Monday morning before playing in the match.
Getting a training session or two in in the future would be an improvement, and another area that the players would be open to is seeing a change in the format. Some players admitted it was fun to play against the U-23 Timbers team that was pushed on by the crowd, but would not mind seeing different type of opposition in the coming years.
Some scenarios that have gained steam in the public eye are seeing the Homegrown players take on a team comprised of Generation adidas members or a foreign club’s reserve side. There is no perfect formula, but players are open to the idea of experimenting in the years to come.
“I think for kind of mass appeal for the entire country to have something like that would be awesome or to play a big professional (club’s) reserves or youth team,” said Chicago Fire’s Harry Shipp. “I think there’s so many different ways you can take it and it doesn’t need to be the same thing every year. It can kind of rotate what you do every year to bring a new spotlight on the homegrown players.”