There has been plenty of talk in recent days about the ‘Homegrown Player Rules’ in Major League Soccer.
Today it was made official: Brent Richards is the first Portland Timber claimed via the process.
The Portland Timbers were able to successfully convince Major League Soccer that Richards belongs in the ‘Homegrown’ category, despite the fact the club had no active academy at the time Richards would have gone through one. Does this signal a change in the landscape of MLS player development? Can Chicago Fire fans expect better decisions in the near future? And what about the Seattle Sounders? How many players have they helped along during their USL years?
The press release does address why Richards was considered ‘Homegrown.’ As a youth, Richards played club soccer for Eastside United FC, a Timbers-affiliated club in Gresham, Ore., and was a member of the Oregon ODP program. He attended Camas High School, where he won two state championships (2006, 2008) and was named Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year following his senior prep season in 2008.
MLS continues to make up the rules as they go along. This of course has nothing to do with the fact that we wish Brent well as a pro.
My emails to MLSHQ in regards to both the rule and this ruling have so far been left without a response.
The full press release:
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers have signed forward and Timbers U-23s product Brent Richards as the club’s first Homegrown Player, it was announced today. Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson made the announcement.
Richards, 21, joins the Timbers’ first team after three seasons with the club’s development team, the Portland Timbers U-23s, and becoming its all-time leading scorer. A native of Camas, Wash., Richards recently completed a standout collegiate career at the University of Washington.
Richards registered 26 goals and 12 assists in 37 games over three seasons (2009-11) with the Timbers U-23s in United Soccer Leagues’ Premier Development League (PDL). He led the Timbers U-23s to a historic season in 2010, as the team won the PDL championship and became the league’s first undefeated champion with a perfect 20-0-0 record. Richards was crowned the league’s MVP and the finals MVP among his several accolades that season.
A PDL All-League selection in 2010, Richards recorded another standout season for the Timbers U-23s in 2011, leading the team in scoring for a second straight year, with eight goals and a team-high six assists. He received All-Western Conference honors for a second time and was named the club’s Timbers U-23s Player of the Year following the campaign.
During his collegiate career at Washington, Richards was consistently one of the Pac-10/Pac-12 Conference’s top scorers. He compiled 31 goals and 15 assists in 72 games for the Huskies, leading the team in scoring, goals and game-winning goals in each of his four seasons. A four-time, all-conference honoree, Richards ranks among the school’s career leaders in goals and points (77).
He left Washington as one of the most decorated student-athletes in men’s soccer, both on and off the field. Among his many accolades during his collegiate career, Richards was a two-time all-conference first-team selection (2010-11), was named the 2011 Pac-12 Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was a First-Team Capital One Academic All-American in 2011.
As a youth, Richards played club soccer for Eastside United FC, a Timbers-affiliated club in Gresham, Ore., and was a member of the Oregon ODP program. He attended Camas High School, where he won two state championships (2006, 2008) and was named Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year following his senior prep season in 2008.
Richards becomes the third Timbers U-23s player to sign with the Timbers’ first team, joining midfielder Freddie Braun and goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. All three players were part of the Timbers U-23s championship-winning team in 2010.
Born: May 20, 1990
Hometown: Camas, Wash.
Last Club: Portland Timbers U-23s
College: University of Washington