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Generation adidas update: MLS signs UCF forward Williams as first GA, Larin mulling offer, and more

RomarioWilliams (Central Florida)
Photo courtesy of Central Florida Athletics

The 2015 MLS Generation adidas class is shaping up to be a small one, but Major League Soccer has taken the first step toward building its class with the signing of the first member of the class.

Sources have confirmed to SBI that Central Florida forward Romario Williams has agreed to a Generation adidas contract, becoming the first player signed to a Generation adidas deal ahead of the 2015 MLS Draft.

(UPDATE– A source close to Williams tells SBI that he has not agreed to a GA deal. At the moment, we have conflicting stories from different sources, but we have it confirmed from multiple sources that Williams has received a GA offer.)

The negotiating process is moving along as slow as usual, with the league likely to push matters in the coming days, ahead of the MLS Combine, which begins on Dec. 9th. MLS usually completes the majority of GA signings in the week before the Combine.

MLS sources have told SBI that the league only plans to sign a class of three to four players, and with top target Joshua Yaro choosing to stay in school, MLS is focused on a handful of targets. Here is a closer look at the players currently in the mix for the remaining two to three GA deals:

TOP REMAINING GENERATION ADIDAS TARGETS

1- CYLE LARIN, UConn, Forward

Canadian national team forward has been extended an offer and is currently in negotiations with MLS. Highly coveted by both expansion teams, and Toronto FC.

2- ABU DANLADI, UCLA, Forward

The most impressive freshman in the country is a dynamic forward who played well enough to force his way into the GA conversation, and contrary to some reports, Danladi has not made a decision about staying in school yet.

3- CRISTIAN ROLDAN, Washington, Midfielder

The highly-regarded playmaker turned down a Generation adidas offer a year ago, and sources believe he will do so again. That hasn’t stopped MLS from making him a top target, and an improved offer could persuade the U.S. youth national team midfielder from signing.

4- ALEX BONO, Syracuse, Goalkeeper

The most highly-rated goalkeeper prospect in college soccer not named Zack Steffen, Bono would be the first goalkeeper taken if he signed, but at the moment he has yet to be offered. Signs point to him being the next one to be offered a deal if one of the three above him on this list pass on their offers.

5- OMAR HOLNESS, North Carolina, Forward

The speedy Jamaican forward ale has the physical attributes that have made him the apple of the eye of scouts for two years, but he remains a raw prospect even after two years at UNC and the sense is he

6- AXEL SJOBERG, Marquette Central Defender

A 6-foot-7 central defender who moves very well for his size, Sjoberg is a Swedish international who has already finished school as a junior and could declare for the draft as a graduation junior. Sources tell SBI Sjoberg is trying to land a Generation adidas deal, which may be tough given the fact he turns 24 on opening day of 2015.

7- MICHAEL AMICK, UCLA, Central Defender

A skilled but slightly undersized defender, Amick is a longshot for a GA deal, but does have the attention of scouts who like his intelligence and skill as a centerback. Could probably use another year of seasoning, and should be a top target in for the 2016 draft.

Comments

  1. I’m wondering the same with Roldan. Heck he turned down the GA last year, why would they offer him again? I can think of a very gifted Rookie CM that should be looked at! Btw, what makes Abu so special? Could it be because he’s 21?

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  2. Also wondering — with respect to Zoldan — why MLS would want to “persuade the U.S. youth national team midfielder from signing.” Heck, if they don’t want him to sign, just don’t offer him a deal. No persuasion needed.

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  3. Dzenan Catic was apparently also someone they were considering; but given that he plays in NAIA, his situation was difficult for them to pinpoint. He would be a good choice, though – with his statistics and age it’s definitely time for him to go pro. Why they’re only going to sign 3 or 4 I don’t understand. Fair enough, their focus is on the home grown program. In the meantime however, there are still lots of players in college with no such ties who deserve to turn pro when they’re ready to turn pro. If these kids are willing and able, the league shouldn’t turn it’s back just because they’re looking into other avenues.

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    • @James Knowles, MLS isn’t turning its back on any players. If the teams and the League keep the Gen Adidas class small, they still provide opportunity for these same players through the draft. It might make sense to push resources towards the academies, where teams can get a longer look at talented young players prior to guaranteeing their spots on the senior roster.

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    • There are still enough unaffiliated kids who went the old way of club and college that GA is viable as is, but as teams increasingly “grow their own” it gets more complicated. The old concept was I am fending off a foreign suitor by making an attractive offer to a leading unaffiliated soccer player. But what do you do if kids came up within an academy and signed with that team? Do we treat unaffiliated better? Do we make it more enticing to affiliate?

      I actually think the idea of providing a college education guarantee to people going pro as high schoolers or underclassmen is a great idea, a solution for the fact not everyone’s career turns out and/or provides them with the savings to go back to school. But the system needs to be reconfigured to fit present realities of increased academy player development, as well as where we want the league headed.

      That being said, as long as a decent percentage of players are unaffiliated collegians — and most rookies of the year come from that pool — we need to remain competitive for those soccer players.

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      • One thing we might try is each team gets a GA (or more) for an affiliated player. That would create an incentive for a young player to join the academy knowing that the best academicians committing to MLS will get a contract plus a college fallback.

        As it is, the non-HGP GA allow you to end run the academies and still get rewarded. You’re never going to get me saying college education plus soccer is a bad thing. But if the end goal is pro orgs rather than traditional clubs develop players, then you want the incentives oriented that direction. We might still want to fight for the college player, but you should be providing carrots for HGP other than the general idea that they might get signed.

      • What?

        What is a GA for an affiliated player? How would that be any different at all than a Homegrown signing (other than that GA players sign for more money — but MLS teams could always offer more to sign an HGP)?

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