Although still in its infancy, the Houston Dynamo Academy, presented by Statoil, has borne fruit that has had a positive impact on the Dynamo first team.
Since its establishment in 2007, four Academy players have signed homegrown contracts with the first team. Although it is difficult for a young player to break through with any professional program, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said there are opportunities for young players to get first team exposure prior to signing a contract.
“My involvement with the Academy is on the outside, but one thing we do with our Academy players is that [Director of Youth Development] James Clarkson will recommend 2-3 players to come in and train with us over the summer,” Kinnear said in his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.
That training stint allows Kinnear and his staff the ability to evaluate young talent, while giving the Academy players the ability to train in a professional environment.
This past summer, Bradley Bourgeois, Abe Matamoros and Christian Gonzalez all spent time with the first team. Bourgeois used that experience to earn a starting role and Conference USA all-freshman team honors in his rookie campaign at the University of Tulsa. Matamoros started 19 games for the Tulsa last season and scored two goals en route to Capital One Academy All-District VII honors
“I think our Academy is doing a good job,” Kinnear added. “We’ve had Francisco Navas Cobo, Alex Dixon, Josue Soto and Tyler Deric [sign homegrown contracts] and even though only two of those players have had an impact on the first team, I think that’s very productive. Hopefully, we will be able to add more over the years.”
Goalkeeper Tyler Deric (pictured, above) was the first Dynamo Academy player to be signed to a homegrown contract in 2009. Although he has only three regular season starts under his belt, Deric posted a 2-0-2 record in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage this past year as the Dynamo advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2012-13 CCL tournament.
While it’s the goal of every club to churn out homegrown talent a la Barcelona, most clubs understand that it is a process that will not develop over night.
“This Academy system is going to take decades before it becomes what it needs to be,” said Dynamo president Chris Canetti. “We currently have a system that takes us all the way down to U-12 level, but the problem is that we don’t own their rights. So we need to continue to look to sign kids before they go to college, or help further their development in college so when they come out we are ready to sign them.”