Zardes breaks record, but who are the Top Ten MLS Homegrown players?

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Gyasi Zardes is having a dynamite season, scoring 14 goals to break the single-season record for an MLS Homegrown player.

We’ve been tooting the Zardes horn for a while now, but his ascension to the apex of Homegrown goal scorers doesn’t make him the clear-cut best Homegrown player.

Since the program was started in 2008, over 100 players have earned Homegrown contracts. So which 10 players have broken through with the most effective careers?

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Conditions: it’s about careers, not just stints with a club. Therefore, Andy Najar’s move from Homegrown to Honduran national team player and Anderlecht player counts, even if his time in DC ended in 2013.

Let’s give it an almost-completely unscientific whirl:

10-6

10. Victor Ulloa, FC Dallas

9. Harrison Shipp, Chicago Fire

8. Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew

7. Shane O’Neill, Colorado Rapids

6. Gyasi Zardes, Los Angeles Galaxy

Analysis: Bit of a gulf between 7 and 8 here, with apologies to Trapp. If this were a major sports draft, we’d say that’s where the current drop-off lives. Still, players 8-10 are very early in their careers and capable of leaping. Both O’Neill and Zardes aren’t far from the Top Five, either.

Top 5

5. Diego Fagundez, New England Revolution

4. Juan Agudelo, New York Red Bulls

3. DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders

2. Andy Najar, DC United

1. Bill Hamid, DC United

Analysis: Yedlin and Agudelo drop because it was their national team performances that earned them their renown and transfers, while Najar and Hamid have starred with the clubs that promoted them. Surely we could be mere months away from Yedlin rocketing up this list, while Fagundez, Zardes and O’Neill have top play potential as well.

Ones to watch: Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting KC), Jordan Hamilton (Toronto FC), Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Karl Ouimette (Montreal Impact)