Inter Miami CF announced today it has signed its first Academy product as a Homegrown Player, securing Academy graduate and Fort Lauderdale CF winger Felipe Valencia to a First Team contract. He will be added to the senior roster for the 2021 MLS season.
The 15-year-old from Homestead, Florida, made history twice this year by becoming the youngest Academy player to play for Fort Lauderdale and the youngest player to score a goal at any USL level. Valencia also becomes the 15th-youngest player to sign a contract in MLS history.
“We are very proud of Felipe for making the most of the opportunities he has earned, but most importantly, we hope his accomplishment sets an example for other youth players within our Academy and USL League One team,” said Inter Miami CF Managing Owner Jorge Mas. “We’ve invested in the best resources and facilities to support the Academy because we aspire to continue developing local players and producing future stars of our team in the short and long-term.”
Valencia, of Colombian-born parents, joined Inter Miami CF Academy presented by Baptist Health in 2019 after a successful showing during the Club’s first-ever tryout sessions. He continued his progress within the Club’s development platform by becoming the youngest of 15 Academy players to join Fort Lauderdale CF in the USL League One for the 2020 season before signing his MLS contract with Inter Miami for the next season.
With Fort Lauderdale, Valencia made history for a second time by becoming the youngest player to score a goal at any USL level at just 15 years, five months and 18 days. His goal broke the record set by current FC Bayern Munich star and former Vancouver Whitecaps academy product Alphonso Davies. Overall, Valencia made 12 appearances in League One in 2020, starting in nine of those matches and registering three goals, tied for second on the team.
In March 2020, Valencia was one of 36 players called up to the U.S. U-15 Boys’ National Team for a week-long training camp at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.
At the Academy level with the Club, the winger impressed featuring for the U-15 team in 2019-20. He started 13 matches for the group and tallied a team-high six goals. Prior to joining the Inter Miami CF Academy, Valencia starred for the Kendall Soccer Club, where he featured from 2017 to 2019, registering 57 appearances and scoring 33 goals.
A Homegrown Player is part of MLS’s roster building mechanism that allows teams to sign players from their own development academies directly to the First Team’s Senior or Supplemental roster. For more information on MLS’s roster rules and regulations, click here.