Earlier this week, Chivas USA added another piece to their roster by signing 16-year old Chivas USA Youth Academy product Marky Delgado to a homegrown contract. Those of you who read this regularly know that Delgado has been ever-present in the team's plans since last fall, as he has gotten extensive time in reserve team matches and trained with the senior squad through the preseason. It seemed like a matter of time before Delgado was given a professional contract, and the front office has been glowing in its praise for Delgado.
The press coming out of the signing indicates that Delgado came into the Chivas Academy via the merger with the Cosmos West Academy, which took place last summer. It seems that merger could be quite the boon for Chivas, as Delgado is the second player originally part of the Cosmos West Academy to sign a professional contract, following Marvin Iraheta in the offseason. As a result, if either guy really pans out as an MLS player in the long term for Chivas, the merger of the academies will have proven to be a real advantage for the organization.One thing that might have been overlooked is the fact that the press release of the signing indicated that Delgado won't be available until August, "once he has fulfilled all Homegrown Player training requirements." I'm not exactly sure what those requirements are, and why they presumably take months to complete (or perhaps there is a program in the late summer?) but I'll do some digging and see what I find. At any rate, it would have been unrealistic to expect Delgado to get in the first team at this point in the season anyway. He could get some time at the end of the season, depending on the team's form and if the midfielders ahead of him in the depth chart are healthy and playing well, but I don't think he'll make a major impact in 2012.
The big question, not only for Delgado but for the Homegrown Player program in MLS in general, is if these players can actually stick around a club long enough to get into the first team. Signed as teenagers, many train with the senior squad, and are eventually cut loose. Chivas USA's own Tristan Bowen has had a quixotic path as the Galaxy's first Homegrown player, and while he's getting a chance to prove himself in Europe, it hasn't been an easy path. While Homegrown players are projects, simply put, the track record for them so far hasn't been extremely promising. But if the right combination of a talented player, a team that is willing to give him playing time, and a coaching staff willing to use him, the fortunes of homegrown players could turn around yet. I'm not trying to be pessimistic about Delgado, but I do think now he's a member of the senior squad that expectations probably should be tempered for the time being. Still, I'm excited to see him as a part of the full team. Welcome aboard Marky!
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