MLS 101: Homegrown Players

Felipe Valencia Academy Hero Shot Dec. 2020

Inter Miami recently announced 15-year-old winger Felipe Valencia as the Club’s first Academy product signed as a Homegrown Player. But what is a Homegrown Player?

 What is a Homegrown Player?

The concept may be foreign to Inter Miami fans who are new to the league, but Homegrown Players are an important player acquisition mechanism in MLS. It’s one of a number of designations a player can carry on a roster with unique roster building implications.

Specifically, a Homegrown Player is a player signed to a club’s First Team who has lived in the club’s territory and spent at least one year in the club’s academy. The Homegrown Player mechanism allows clubs to sign players to their roster without subjecting them to the MLS SuperDraft.

Why does it matter?

Clubs may use up to $200,000 of their currently available Targeted Allocation Money to sign new Homegrown Players to their first MLS contract, subject to review and approval by MLS. Additionally, a Homegrown Player’s salary does not count against the team’s salary cap.

In simpler terms, Homegrown Player signings provide clubs with added financial flexibility in building their rosters.

Who are some notable Homegrown Players?

Since the rules came into effect, a number of players have forged standout careers that began with an MLS Homegrown contract. Notably, former Vancouver Whitecaps and current Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies, whose record as youngest USL goalscorer was bested by Felipe Valencia, began his career as an MLS Homegrown Player. Additionally, former Seattle Sounders and current Newcastle United F.C. right back DeAndre Yedlin was the first MLS Homegrown to feature on a United States World Cup roster.

A number of active MLS Homegrowns, meanwhile, continue to star in the league. In 2020, three Homegrown Players were named to the MLS Best XI presented by Home Depot for the first time. The Supporters’ Shield-winning Philadelphia Union were guided by two Homegrowns in the league’s Best XI in midfielder Brenden Aaronson and defender Mark McKenzie, while the MLS Cup runners-up Seattle Sounders were spearheaded by Homegrown star and MLS Best XI forward Jordan Morris. Evidently, teams have found success behind the strength of stellar Homegrown talents.

Does Inter Miami have any other Homegrown Players? 

Valencia becomes the third player signed by the Club as a Homegrown, after midfielder David Norman Jr. and goalkeeper Drake Callender. Norman Jr. carried his Homegrown Player tag as he joined via the Club’s trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sept. 5, 2019, while the Club acquired Callender’s Homegrown Player rights in a trade with San Jose on Nov. 12, 2019.