Sporting Kansas City appear to have again taken advantage of another dimension of the homegrown player rule to acquire the rights to U.S. U17 star Josh Sargent.
According to a report in Goal, Sporting Kansas City put in a homegrown claim on the St. Louis native last summer and since he is from within their geographic territory and there wasn’t “enough strong interest in the player from other teams in the league” the claim was approved.
While typically a player is required to play for a team’s academy for at least a year to be eligible to sign as a homegrown player, Sargent isn’t the first player to not meet what you’ll often hear referred to as a minimum standard.
Jose Villareal was able to complete his required training hours with the LA Galaxy after signing a homegrown deal and the Philadelphia Union’s first two homegrown signings, Zach Pfeffer and Jimmy McLaughlin, were both signed when the Union Academy was essentially an all-star team of local club affiliates.
More recently, Atlanta United was able to sign Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin after establishing a partnership with their former youth club, Georgia United. New York City FC, it should be noted, was unable to do this with Jack Harrison, acquiring him in a draft day trade after their homegrown claim - he played as a guest player for a youth club affiliate - was denied.
Presumably, had other teams expressed interest in Sargent - whose stock has risen significantly since he trained with SKC last summer - the forward could have been considered for a Generation adidas deal and made eligible for the SuperDraft. The league, however, has shown little interest in making youth internationals eligible for the draft in recent years. The last GA contract signed by a non-college player was Kekuta Manneh in 2013.
Sargent may never suit up for SKC and his rights being awarded to the team has no immediate impact on the Union, but it certainly won’t make it any easier to forget the team’s reported role in the successful dispute of Keegan Rosenberry’s homegrown claim last year.
Rosenberry, after all, spent more time in a Union uniform than Sargent - even before the full-time Academy had been established - but was so desired by other clubs after the homegrown claim was denied that the Union had to trade up to draft him third overall.
The move was worth it in the end, but it still stings to see another team seemingly do far less to obtain the rights to a promising young player who lives 250 miles away from their stadium after already signing a former exchange student from Hungary earlier in the year.