At the moment, Chivas USA have two Homegrown players on the roster, Marky Delgado and Caleb Calvert. Both are young, only just beginning their professional careers, one presumes, but given the excitement both players have given the fanbase since signing with the team, it's worth asking what the expectations are for these players heading into the season.
The situation for each player is a bit different. Delgado was one of, and maybe the biggest, beneficiary of Chivas' gutted roster last season, as he saw extensive minutes in the second half of the season, especially playing as a converted full back. Now 18, Delgado has gotten call-ups in recent months to the next USMNT youth level, the U-20s, and he's being touted as an up-and-comer heading into his third MLS season (really his second season proper, but technically it's his third).
Meanwhile, Calvert was signed last summer, and while we don't know if he would have seen action straightaway under Jose Luis Real, it seems likely, though a foot injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.
The 17-year-old is entering his first full pro season, and now that he's healthy, he can work towards making his MLS debut.
But what will Wilmer Cabrera be looking to do with Delgado and Calvert? Time will tell, but from the looks of it, neither player will see much first team action, at least to start the season.
For Calvert, that's really no surprise. Expect to see him get off the bench this year, but Cabrera may opt to bring the young striker along very slowly, especially if there are players ahead of him in the pecking order who are contributing. That last part is key -- if Chivas somehow have as bad an attack in 2014 as they have in recent seasons, then he could get a chance much sooner. In some respects, unless he is the next version of Diego Fagundez, not seeing him a lot will probably be a good thing, in that the other forwards are healthy and scoring.
The disappointment may be considerably greater with Delgado, however. It appears he dealt with an injury after joining preseason camp late (along with Calvert, as both players were with the U-18 Academy team at the Copa Chivas), and didn't play a great deal in the warmup games as a result. But it looks like not only has Cabrera put Delgado back in his natural position in the midfield, but he's near the very bottom of the depth chart.
On one hand, I'm ok with that. As much as it was nice to see Delgado get consistent minutes last season, he's not ready to be a starter on a good team in MLS yet. Plus, I'm not convinced he ought to be a defender, and while that position group has plenty of question marks of its own, Delgado should probably get a chance to play his natural position.
But it will be hard for him to really improve at a rapid clip if he doesn't play a lot, right? Maybe, maybe not. Staying out of the lineup can protect a young player from losing confidence if he makes too many mistakes. But it can also lead a player's development to stagnate.
Given Cabrera's track record of working with young players in his career to date, one hopes he will make the development of Delgado and Calvert one of his tasks this season. But based on preseason snapshots, don't expect these players to see a lot of MLS action in 2014.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!