Notes: National team departures, youth and the academy

Notes: National team departures, youth and the academy


With a strangely timed midweek match coming to the fore tomorrow before a longish layoff, We'll get one last look at our guys before a 12-day absence through the international break. In advance of that, I've jotted down some hasty and ill-thought notes — business as usual, I suppose, right?

National team exits leaving us bone dry

Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, and Alvaro Saborio have all left for the international break prior to tomorrow's match, leaving us a bit light in the personnel department. Nick Rimando, who has also been called up to the national team, leaves following the Houston match. Throw in a disciplinary absence to Chris Wingert for yellow card accumulation — nothing too bad — and the ranks start to look a little dry.

I'll discuss this in more depth tomorrow, but some questions to ponder before then: Is it too soon for Chris Schuler to make a return? How has Olave looked? Could Kwame Watson-Siriboe play at full back in a pinch? How's the recovery of Kenny Mansally looking? Does the Earth still orbit the sun? Why am I asking so many questions? (All these and more answered tomorrow. Hint: The last one is "I don't know," and the one before that is "Yes.")

All I know right now, though, is that we're thin at full back. Dreadfully thin. It should be, um, fun. Or, you know, something like that.

Youth and the academy

As I've been going through compiling reference information on graduates and future graduates of the RSL-AZ Academy in Casa Grande, Ariz., one name has stood out for some time. Maikon Orellana, a young El Salvadoran forward from Provo (of wall places), has impressed at every level he's been at, and he served a fair bit of time with the reserves. It was with a bit of sadness that I read he's gone over to Europe to ply his trade, being signed to a professional contract by Brondby IF of Denmark.

Now, I can't hold it against the kid. He's spotted an opportunity and has opted to take it. The allure of Europe is still a big one, especially in an MLS system that doesn't strongly support academies — yet. I'm hopeful that big changes to the reserves structure will come along soon, giving us more leverage in this regard.

We certainly won't be able to sign every player that comes through the academy and has some promise — nor should we. But sometimes, a player goes overseas who could well have made it stateside, and there's just a pang of realization that goes along with that. Alas, it is what it is, isn't it? Good luck to Maikon as he plies his trade with Brondby, though — perhaps we'll still see him at RSL someday.

Other youth matters: Jordan Allen (the much-vaunted attacking midfielder from the academy) and Benjamin Lopez (a forward from the academy) have both been called up to the US Under-18s, while Ben Spencer, now of the Chivas USA Academy but formerly a Casa Grande player, has been called in as well. Spencer's MLS rights are apparently held by Real Salt Lake, although Adam Serrano, a southern California soccer reporter, issued to me a slightly ominous "watch this space" regarding the matter. I will, Adam. I will.

Good luck to those three as well.