Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sporting Gaming the Homegrown Player Process Again

Sporting Kansas City may be trying to make use of a loop hole in Major League Soccer's homegrown player rules again with reports (since confirmed by the team) that the club has homegrown player rights on US youth international Josh Sargent.

Last year Sporting Kansas City signed Daniel Salloi to a homegrown player contract with the club. Salloi, who had previously been in the youth system of Ujpest FC, had spent a year in the United States as a foreign exchange student in Kansas City. During that time Salloi played with Sporting KC's academy team. Upon his return to Hungary, Salloi signed an amateur contract with Ujpest and appeared in 12 games for them. Then this past winter, Sporting was able to sign him to a homegrown contract because it was his first "professional" contract. It was a move that got little mention at the time, but the fact that KC was able to sign a player who had made professional appearances in Hungary to a homegrown player contract was a stretch of the homegrown player rule.

Peter Vermes looks to have stretched the rules a different way acquiring the rights of Sargent, who has never played in Sporting's academy. Vermes is taking a page out of the LA Galaxy's book, which acquired Jose Villarreal's homegrown rights the same way. Sporting KC can place claims on players that are in their geographic territory, which is Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. In Sargent's case, Sporting filed the claim last summer after he trained with the team before Sargent really emerged, including a stellar performance at this year's Nike Friendlies.

Before Sargent could play with Sporting's first team though, Sargent would need to fulfill the required training hours with the club, basically one year of time with the club. So Sargent could join the Sporting academy or play with the Swope Park Rangers to fulfill the requirement.

Of course that is assuming that Sargent wants to join an MLS team, Sargent is reportedly getting interest from clubs in Europe and turns 18 in 2018, he could bide his time for the next year, splitting time with his club, St. Louis Scott Gallagher and the US U17 national team before jumping to Europe.

While it makes sense for MLS teams to have regions that they can pull homegrown players from and I can't fault Vermes and Kansas City for taking advantage of the rules that MLS has set forward, I still find it crazy that KC can get homegrown player rights on a player that isn't "homegrown" in the sense that he wasn't developed in KC's system. In fact, in Sargent's case he was developed by a rival in the US Soccer Developmental Academy. But you can't blame Sporting KC for using the rules as they're currently laid out to their advantage when they can.

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