Youth soccer leagues are nothing new to the United States. Virtually every American played when they were young but "grew" out of it. Whether this was due to the fact that kids didn't have access to watch the best leagues in the world or that there wasn't a domestic league the development program was really lacking in this country. Only in 2008 when the homegrown player rule came to pass that the MLS started having an incentive for teams to develop players. It's a way to get around the salary cap. What wouldn't an NBA or NFL team give to be able to circumvent the salary cap. Although the Rapids front office probably has to file paperwork in triplicate and go through several levels of upper management in Kroenke Sports Enterprises to get approval for putting milk in the stadium. I think they have found a clever way to scout the best young talent in the U.S.A. and potentially find the next diamond in the rough to develop in the Colorado Rapids academy.
The Homegrown player rule states that a player will not count against the salary cap if they are signed to a homegrown player contract. To be eligible for this type of deal stipulates that the player has to train in the teams academy for at least a year and participate in 80 games or practices.
Obviously Shane O'Neill and Dillon Serna are great local players who fans can now follow if they go overseas or get called up by the national team but foe now they make the Colorado Rapids much better while being off the official books. They are the first class of homegrown players to blossom for the Rapids. Which is great. Developing young talent and fostering competition are what sports are all about. I'm sure other teams have found this loophole. The Rapids are in the game now. But according to my interpretations of the homegrown rule. The players from the team-run academies will be eligible for the homegrown player contracts.
The Rapids recently signed a deal with a North Carolina club to help develop their players. Along with ties to Las Vegas and New Mexico the MLS seems to be dividing up the United States to find the best young talent to join their team for cheap and off the official books. Hopefully RSL gets their youth academy taken away by the impending return to MLS by the state of Florida. The competition to find the next great young American is alive and well.