18 Aug YSC Academy Leads The Way To Pro Player Path
August 14, 2016 by Paul Kennedy (published by socceramerica.com )
The Philadelphia Union’s signing of North Carolina recruit Auston Trusty on Wednesday raised to 16 the number of players on the 2015 U.S. Under-17 World Cup team who’ve turned pro and he is one of growing number of players whom MLS clubs are developing on their newly opened USL second teams. It will accelerate the rate at which players are skipping college altogether.
Trusty was part of the Tar Heels’ recruiting class rated No. 1 in the country. But the 18-year-old defender was also one of a handful of players the Union, under new sporting director Earnie Stewart, promoted from the academy program to the Union’s first-year USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC, where he has made 13 starts.
“He has really benefited from playing at the USL level this season,” said Stewart in a statement, “further showing just how valuable this process can be. He’s now proven himself at our academy, at Bethlehem Steel FC and at various youth national teams throughout his young career.”
Union academy director Tommy Wilson said Trusty’s path through the Union program was anything but smooth.
“In his first season with the U16s, he barely played and struggled for consistency,” Wilson said. “However, in keeping with our philosophy, we were patient with Auston and we allowed him the time to flourish. He grabbed this opportunity with both hands and never looked back.”
Other academy players Mark McKenzie,Anthony Fontana, Lamine Conte, Raheem Taylor-Parkes andJoe DeZart spent the summer in Bethlehem. Playing or training as amateurs allows the Union to evaluate their progress. They, in turn, get a taste of a pro’s life before heading off to college or back to high school. Taylor-Parkes will play at Virginia, while DeZart is headed to Wake Forest and Conte to NAIA school Mobile. Fontana and McKenzie will be high school seniors in the fall.
Other MLS teams like Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers are using their USL teams to test their academy players. Left back Marco Farfan, a rising high school senior, is third on Timbers FC 2 in minutes and ranked sixth on the USL’s 20 Under 20 list.
Hugo Arellano, who played on the U-17s with Trusty, signed with LA Galaxy II, the Galaxy’s USL team in its third season that has 11 players who would otherwise by in college this season. He’s also the third player who has turned pro after initially intending to attend UCLA. Danilo Acosta, the highly regarded midfielder, signed with Real Salt Lake, andMcKenze Gaines joined German club Wolfsburg.
In February, Virginia listed 2015-16 U-17/18 Development Academy Player of the Year Weston McKennie as part of its 2016 recruiting class. But FC Dallas and Germany’s Schalke 04, at which he has been training, are in a tug-of-war to sign him.
Signing McKennie would be a coup for FC Dallas as MLS clubs are capturing just a fraction of the high school seniors turning pro.
Former U-17s stars likeChristian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) and Luca de la Torre(Fulham) are already receiving first-team minutes in Europe, while other players have signed with top European clubs: Danny Barbir (West Bromwich Albion), McKenze Gaines (Wolfsburg), Brooks Lennon, (Liverpool),Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United),Joshua Perez (Fiorentina)and Haji Wright(Schalke 04).