If the 2013 MLS SuperDraft has failed to feel as “super” as years past, take solace; you aren’t the only one sharing that sentiment.
In fact, New York Red Bulls interim coach Mike Petke feels the same way. The reason? In part, the long time Red Bull player and now manager feels Major League Soccer’s wildly popular Homegrown Player initiative is working very well.
“That’s not to say these players aren’t good,” Petke delineated. “Maybe it’s just a fact that these last couple of days, they are getting back into it, haven’t played in a little bit, a little nervous or whatever. (But) I definitely think the homegrown rule that has really taken off and definitely has thinned out the talent.”
For years, clubs that had invested in Academy programs were practically penalized for their initiative. MLS was restrictive in the harvesting of the programs, making a return near impossible. EoS covered a popular instance that kept former Metrostar Academy standout Johnny Exantus on the outside looking in for a professional contract.
Nowadays, the rules have changed for the better. Each club may sign a player to his first professional contract, as the MLS rulebook says, “without subjecting him to the MLS SuperDraft if the player has trained for at least one year in the club’s youth development program and has met the League’s Homegrown Player criteria.”
Unlike years past, the signings are not limited to one contract per club; team’s can harvest their Academy’s to their liking with no limit on acquisitions.
The rule has made it more palatable for talented young prospects to join the Academy ranks. With the club nurturing talent through their system, the transition becomes easier for both team and player on the professional level.
“I can tell you this,” Petke explained. “This is my second draft I have been a part of. Last year, I didn’t feel the combine was as strong and the draft was as strong as I was blindly going into, but there were some good players that came out of there, very good players, and we were very fortunate with the pick we had.
“Coming into this draft, this combine, the level is maybe even gone down a little bit.”
And if the Homegrown Rule continues to take hold, that observation may become a growing trend.
“I think in the years to come, it’s only going to get thinner and thinner,” Petke stated.