Decision Day in Major League Soccer is on the horizon, and there is still plenty to be decided at the tail end of the league’s 24th season. The topsy-turvy Western Conference continues to keep fans guessing, Carlos Vela now has one hand firmly grasped on the Golden Boot award despite the advances of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Josef Martinez, and Minnesota United have clinched their first-ever playoff birth, among other noteworthy storylines.
Right in the midst of all the drama have been Homegrown players growing up right in front of our eyes and playing significant roles for their respective teams. With the regular season reaching its end in just over a week, it’s time for the latest edition of FloFC’s Homegrown check-in to highlight three players out West who have emerged this season and look to have exciting careers ahead of them.
Edwin Cerrillo | FC Dallas
It’s no secret by now that FC Dallas are masters at pumping out Homegrown talent. Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira and Reggie Cannon, and Brandon Servania have all had banner years for the North Texas club, and there appears to be no end in sight in terms of their youth pipeline.
Edwin Cerrillo became the club’s 24th Homegrown signing heading into the 2019 season and burst out of the gate with seven starts in the team’s first 10 matches. To put the success of their youth development in perspective, they have signed two additional Homegrown players since Cerrillo made the step up, so there is plenty of competition between the youngsters for minutes.
Following his inclusion in the U.S. Under-20 World Cup squad, Cerrillo got the nod in central midfield for the Homegrown starting XI against Chivas and recently earned a call-up to the U.S. Under-23 team alongside his three teammates. He has struggled to secure playing time of late due to the play of Servania, Ferreria and co., but he remains a valuable option for head coach Luchi Gonzalez as they aim to hold onto their spot for the postseason. Not bad for an 18-year-old in his first professional season.
Sam Vines | Colorado Rapids
The Rapids have two of the top young talents at their disposal in Cole Bassett and Sam Vines. Bassett made the cut for FloFC’s previous Homegrown check-in and has continued to impress at just 18 years of age, but it’s his teammate on the back line who finds himself in good company on this list.
The 20-year-old has been churning out top performances while his team is consistently under assault by superior opposition. Vines was handed the opportunity to feature at left back thanks to an injury suffered by Deklan Wynne and hasn’t looked back ever since with 21 starts and 24 total appearances. He’s been stout in his defensive duties, and he can also ping a perfect cross-field ball when needed.
There's been maybe less talk about Sam Vines than there should be by now, given that he's a 20-year-old Homegrown LB who's been very good defensive and very solid with his passing since getting into the XI.— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) August 25, 2019
This ball here is obviously a step beyond "solid." Very, very nice. pic.twitter.com/bE6fvxiocF
Vines had the honor of donning the captain’s armband during the second half of the MLS Homegrown Game against Chivas Guadalajara back in July.
Theo Bair | Vancouver Whitecaps
If you were to envision a flawless first MLS goal, it likely wouldn't come close to Theo Bair’s crafty turn and thunderous volley in August.
With just seven wins and the second-worst goal differential in the league (-22), there simply hasn’t been much to smile about for the Vancouver Whitecaps this year. One positive has been the grooming of Bair, their 20-year-old frontman who has shown signs of becoming a dependable option up top in the coming years.
The Ontario native signed a Homegrown contract in July of 2018 and has logged minutes in 15 matches in his first professional campaign. His first start for the Caps didn’t come until July 13, but he has since earned a spot in the starting XI on seven occasions and has tallied a pair of assists.