FRISCO - We’ve seen the first example of the new FC Dallas Academy-to-USL pipeline, but North Texas SC has put a new twist on it with the signing of the second and third players in club history.
Having already signed 15-year-old Ricardo Pepi directly from the Academy, the USL League One franchise has now signed Academy graduates Ronaldo Damus and Brecc Evans. Both aged out of the Academy ranks at the end of the 2017-18 season and, now, return to Frisco to continue their hopes of someday playing for the MLS club.
During four years in the Academy, Evans was a starter for both the U-16 National Championship in 2016 and the 2017 Dallas Cup Champion U-19 side. In his final season last year, he captained the U-19s and appeared in all 21 matches. Evans then spent a semester at Cal Poly and started in every match for the Mustangs in a disappointing 2018 campaign.
The All-Big West Freshman Team defender found himself ready to take the next step in turning pro, but wasn’t quite ready for a Homegrown deal in Texas. Until this season, a player like Evans without a Homegrown deal would likely have signed overseas or had to play out his four years of school before going through the MLS SuperDraft. By playing for North Texas SC, he’ll be able to turn pro right away and still retain his Homegrown rights for FCD should he progress to the point of an MLS contract.
Damus, on the other hand, has taken a different path. After joining the U-19s mid-season last year and scoring 12 goals in just 13 appearances, the forward has spent the last few months largely with the Haitian youth national teams, playing five games for the U-20s at the CAC Games and one at the Concacaf U-20 Championship. Damus was also on the bench for the senior national team for two matches in Concacaf Nations League qualifying. Because he only spent a few months in the club, he is not eligible for a Homegrown contract down the road. He can, however, use the new team as a proving ground for a potential MLS deal. It just wouldn’t be under the Homegrown designation.
With now a second signing type forged by North Texas SC - bringing former players back into the fold - the number of players who could fit this bill are endless. Think of what it could mean to bring back a Christian Cappis, Devin Vega or even a previously-cut Homegrown like Kris Reaves or Jordan Cano. In this purely hypothetical case, Vega would be the only one who could sign as a true MLS Homegrown, but still being able to develop from within could prove a huge asset for the organization as a whole.
The only path that remains is the few purely unaffiliated signings that could fill out a roster focused heavily on developing from within.