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Top 5 MLS Homegrown Players not named Jordan Morris

Danilo Acosta Real Salt Lake 10

Jordan Morris might be the most well-known MLS Homegrown Player to sign a deal this offseason, but he is far from the only talented prospect in this year’s class.

The last couple of weeks have been dominated by talk of Morris and whether he would sign with the Seattle Sounders and MLS, but what seemed to be lost in all the hubbub was the fact that several other promising up-and-comers also agreed to contracts with their respective hometown clubs in the league this winter. From the New York Red Bulls and their avalanche of signings to FC Dallas and its latest addition, there are plenty of youngsters to keep an eye on in 2016 and beyond.

None of those players might be as ready for life in the pros as Morris, but that does not necessarily mean that they will be limited to sporadic minutes throughout the season. Even if that does wind up being the case, there are plenty of reasons for their respective club’s fanbases to be excited about what is to come from the next wave of MLS players.

Here are the top five MLS Homegrown Players to sign a deal this offseason that are not named Jordan Morris:


An 18-year-old Honduran centerback, Acosta is considered by many coaches and scouts as one of the elite prospects in the nation. Acosta made three appearances for Real Salt Lake’s USL affiliate, Real Monarchs, last year, and could be groomed to be the defensive midfielder that takes the baton from Kyle Beckerman in a few years’ time.


Joined the Red Bulls after just one year at the University of Virginia, and also impressed in 2015 in USL with New York Red Bulls II. A 19-year-old midfielder/winger, Etienne has represented his native Haiti at various youth international levels. He had two goals and one assist in 17 matches for the Cavaliers last season, but also netted three times and added three helpers in 14 appearances for Red Bulls II.


A four-year starter at Georgetown, Allen scored with frequency during his time in college. He netted 50 times to become the Hoyas’ all-time leading scorer while adding 17 assists in 91 appearances, and was one of the finalists for the 2016 MAC Hermann award that was won by Jordan Morris. He might have lots to learn, but do not be surprised if he is one of the Homegrowns to receive the most minutes this year.


A controversial signing given that he spent just one year in Sporting Kansas City’s academy as part of foreign exchange program while in high school, Salloi has already played professionally in his native Hungary. The 19-year-old striker suited up for Ujpest FC 16 times across all competitions last year, and finished with seven goals and four assists. Four of those goals came in a lopsided cup win, while another came in league play.


Not the most imposing attacker at 5-foot-10, but Calistri showed plenty of goal-scoring prowess during his time as a four-year starter at Northwestern. Calistri, 22, finished his collegiate days as the No. 2 leading goal-scorer in Wildcats’ history, and racked up a number of conference and regional awards. He scored 30 times and had 14 assists, and also was a senior co-captain for Northwestern last year.


What do you think about these five MLS Homegrown Players? Which one of them do you think has the most promising future? Expect any of these youngsters to contribute heavily this season?

Share your thoughts below.


    • Only one of the homegrown players come from abroad, the rest spent a significant amount in the clubs academy. That they are youth international does not mean they weren’t raised in the US.

      • It does mean they aren’t eligible to play for the US unless and until they become naturalized like Nagbe did and, in some cases, make a switch since some have played for their home country youth teams. While I have followed MLS since almost its inception and am glad to see the league develop so much in the last few years, my main interest has always been the USMNT.

      • Yes, but, Gary- the USMNT may be your interest, but it’s not MLS’ sole priority. League soccer is an international sport. The role of MLS academies is to identify and develop the best local talent (read: cheap) for the senior team. We are still a country with a huge number (especially compared to any other country) of immigrants. And immigrants are often more culturally connected to soccer as a lifestyle and opportunity. No one gives Barca a bad time for developing an Argentine at La Masia. Just how it is.

    • whatever goofy cap mechanism that makes MLS teams spend more money on players is good. In the Hungarians case, I would assume the Hungarian running SKC has his ear to the Hungary Streets and used available means to get the player in his academy. I dont understand why this is bad?

  1. Only two of the five seem to be US citizens. That’s not encouraging. You would think we could find more homegrown talent from people who were actually born here.

    • I have witnessed a bias from coaches in youth clubs for foreign players. Some of the things I’ve heard come out of their mouths would be considered so bigoted/racist if the roles were reversed. Many of these coaches assume foreign kids will understand the game better because they will be more immersed in soccer through their families, friends, interests, etc. They also assume that foreign players are more likely not to quit the game for another sport or play additional sports which these youth club coaches don’t like. It’s not just my observation I’ve heard others make the same. Remember one African American parent tell me the coaches at his son’s big youth club favored African players over African American players. Not sure how much of a difference this makes though in the end.

  2. Why is Salloi controversial for spending just one year with the SKC academy and being homegrown? The same is true of Jordan Morris and has been for other players who MLS teams claim as homegrown. What should be controversial is these MLS teams claiming they developed these players and the clubs who actually did develop them not being compensated from MLS

    • I think the issue is not that he was signed as a homegrown player after spending a short time at the academy, but that he previously signed a pro contract in Hungary. The essence of the Homegrown player is to find diamonds in the rough in your own backyard, not importing a foreign and half-polished gemstone.

  3. I think it would be interesting to read an article the details the “homegrown” process. As we’ve seen in many cases, the parent MLS club slaps a label on a player whether or not they’ve have a direct hand in training the player. In some cases, it seems that MLS clubs find out a player is a solid prospect and does some retroactive detective work to see if the player was at one point in one of their affiliated youth clubs.

    These practice seems to over-inflate the true state of youth development by MLS clubs.

    • It’s not really all that complicated. Player lives in your territory (the country is carved up) and spends at least a full year in your academy, you can tag him as homegrown. You have to tag him before he represents a national team at the U-17 level or above or plays in college. Note that the tie doesn’t go both ways, the player can choose to enter the MLS draft or sign with another team in another league,


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