Development of Teens in MLS and Transfers

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by JoeW, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. JoeW

    JoeW New Member

    Apr 19, 2001
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I think its valuable to step back and look at development of teenagers in MLS (basically, P-40 and Gen-Ad players) over time, see how they've progressed and then how the better ones (DMB, Convey, Howard, etc.) have been purchased by clubs overseas. For purposes of this discussion, we might also include some other "hot-shot" former teens (like Quaranta, Adu, and EJ) who haven't transferred overseas but at one point or another were targets or offers were made for those players.

    Now let's start by admitting that not all teens "make it" (and Jamir Beasley and Memo Gonzalez are cases #1 and #2 in regard to this). But of those teen players who had reasonably good reps and did make it in MLS to the point that they became attractive overseas, what can we conclude about the overall process of their development?

    It has irritated me to read repeated comments (mostly from people who don't follow DC United closely) about how Adu's development has been poor, how he's been held back or regressed as a player. My take is that he's actually progressed a lot as a player (and not b/c he plays better defense--he's a significantly better attacking player). But this isn't a new "Freddy thread." As I look at my perceptions of Convey, of Beasley, even of Dempsey (who technically wasn't a teenager though he was P-40 when he was drafted), what seems to be true is:
    --all of the young teen players had very good moments in their MLS careers.
    --all of them had "funks" of one sort or another. In some cases (Beasley and Dempsey are the best examples of this) it was the response by the player to a transfer option that fell through or MLS declined b/c it wasn't big enough. This was certainly true with Convey as well.
    --development (other than possibly with Howard) was uneven: it wasn't consistently upward at an even trend. Instead, there were moments of promise and then benchings. Or periods of shining brilliance followed by mediocre play. While the roller-coaster may have gone up, there were certainly some downs along the way.
    --the transfer period was often an uneven one that affected the player's focus and level of play (see Convey's first failed transfer to Spurs for instance).

    Now people can argue that some coaches don't develop teens well or that MLS isn't structured well to develop this kind of talent. Separate from those arguments, what kind of trends or themes can we see in those MLS teens who have turned into credible players (or at least those who become regular players and contributors with possible overseas hopes--unlike Devin Barclay, Jamir Beasley, Memo Gonzalez).

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