Jeff Vinnick - Getty Images
Looking at the three newest Homegrown signings from FC Dallas
Jonathan Top - Signed Jan 12, 2011 - 19 years old(1-26-1993)
Overview: FC Dallas signed Top in early 2011 just a couple weeks before he turned 18 years old. The signing seemed to be a bit early, but you never really know when someone is going to get an offer from Mexico that forces Dallas' hand. Top is a Fort Worth native who has broken through as one of the main forward options for the US U-20 squad.
Development: Top is the perfect example of where hard work and a great attitude can get you. In 2011, he wasn't bad by any means but struggled to make a huge impact in his reserve league matches. That all changed in 2012 as Top worked out all off-season and shaved more than 10% of his body fat.
It certainly made a difference as the young forward made a great impression in pre-season and made his MLS debut on April 25, much earlier that I thought he would. Top would go on to make four appearances this season with an assist and his first career goal at Vancouver.
What's Ahead: For Top, it's all about the U20 World Cup. CONCACAF qualifying starts in February and hopefully the team will qualify for the U20 World Cup Finals which are in late June in Turkey. In the mean time, Top will be battling with Luna and any other signings for time at forward while hopefully keeping his great fitness and developing.
Richard Sanchez - Signed Feb 18 2011 - 18 years old(4-5-1994)
Overview: There's probably no bigger slam dunk star among the homegrowns right now than Richard Sanchez. The Mexican youth international backstopped El Tri to an U17 World Cup title in Mexico City and now he's set his sights on breaking through with FCD. When talking to the kid, it's tough to remember he's just 18 years old as Sanchez is mature beyond his years and, if he isn't sold before he plays a minute for FCD, could be a huge star around here.
Development: For a goalkeeper, it's kind of tough to analyze the development that well, but Sanchez has pretty much done everything he needs to do. He's made his first few starts for the reserves, to good results, and it has to be said that when Kevin Hartman hangs up his boots, Sanchez is next in line.
What's Ahead: The most important thing for Sanchez is just to keep getting games. He should have no problem finding them between Mexico youth national teams, reserve games and academy games(yes, he's still eligible for the academy). What's going to be interesting is if a Mexican or European team tests FCD to see just how dedicated they are to keeping the potential future face of the franchise.
Kellyn Acosta - Signed July 12, 2012 - 17 years old(7-24-1995)
Overview: FC Dallas signed Acosta this summer with the youngster likely getting some major looks from Europe. Acosta, at 16 years old, played up with the U18s for the Development Academy playoffs which should tell you all you need to know about him. The only question for him becomes what is his position, either defensive midfield or right back.
Development: It's way too early to judge any development for him. The fact that he's starting Reserve Games at 17 years old and captaining the FCD Academy U18s is enough.
What's Ahead: The sky is the limit. I don't want to over-hype the kid, so just be patient and watch him at Dallas Cup next year.
Youth As much as it seems like some of the "older" homegrowns aren't developing, it's still very important to note that not one of them is old enough to drink yet! When FCD signs London Woodberry from Maryland this winter, he will be older than every single one of them. FCD chose(maybe it wasn't a choice) to not have these kids go to college and develop with them. You've got to be patient and see what happens as not every youth star develops and sometimes kids come out of nowhere to become a star.
Cuts will be made I would be mildly surprised if every homegrown from the current roster is on the team after pre-season camp. People like Bryan Leyva who have never been under pressure before will now need to beat out a college draft pick to retain their spot. Hopefully it brings out the best in them.
Guinea Pigs Guys like Leyva, Ulloa, Luna and Hernandez were the guinea pigs for this thing. The whole Homegrown signing initiative is still being figured out by a lot of teams and every player has his own path. It's important to remember that FCD is figuring it out like the rest of us. I think in the future, homegrown signings before the time players are juniors or seniors in college will be very rare.
More in part three...