FC Dallas’ academy has been cited many times as the gold standard for MLS, and a model for Atlanta United to follow. They have produced more Homegrown signings than anyone else in MLS. As with all clubs, not all of the signings have struck gold, but their rich academy development pool has definitely paid off for the club.
It has paid off in other ways as well. Dallas transferred goalkeeper Richard Sanchez to Tigres of LigaMX in 2014 and pocketed a nice fee. Reports have US youth international Alex Zendejas heading to Chivas de Guadalajara for around $500,000 soon.
These players are not like Andy Najar from DC United, who began playing and performing at a high level in MLS before attracting the attention of Anderlecht and earning a $3M transfer fee. Sanchez went on loan to Ft. Lauderdale and never played in a Dallas uniform. Zendejas has played sparingly for the Dallas first team. The 18 year old will likely feature for Chivas’ reserve team upon his arrival.
All of these players have, or will, decided to play for other national teams. Najar opted to play for his homeland of Honduras rather than wait on US citizenship. Sanchez played for Mexico’s youth national teams while in Dallas. Zendejas is the most interesting case, he played nearly 30 times for the US U17 team. However, by signing with Chivas, he has to agree to never play to play for the US again and accept Mexican national team call-ups if they are awarded.
It’s easy to focus on the Homegrown players that star for the team, players like Diego Fagundez and Gyasi Zardes. However, MLS academies can benefit clubs financially as well. Dallas is showing the way.
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