Mailbag Paxton Pomykal
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MONDAY MAILBAG: Protecting Academy Investments and Playing the Kids

FRISCO - With a shortened week, we’re going to take a shortened dive into the Mailbag this week with just a few questions trickling in on Solar Eclipse Monday (which was, in fact, pretty cool to see).

“With the recent of loss of another Academy product (Shaft Brewer), what is FCD and/or MLS planning to do to make sure teams don't keep developing kids with no compensation when the sign elsewhere? What could be done?” - Eric Peoples

Just to clear the air a little bit on Shaft Brewer specifically, he’s not really an Academy product, per se. The forward came in prior to last Academy season moving from Sacramento Republic’s Academy to try to take his game to the next level. He left to explore overseas options during the spring part of the season and tried to hide it from the club and was dismissed from the program as a result before the end of the year. Dallas, I believe, does retain Homegrown rights on him should he return to MLS (a la D.C. United sending allocation money to LA for the rights to Paul Arriola, who spent one year in the Galaxy Academy). The club wishes the best for Shaft as a player, but it was not a perfect fit and the two sides went their separate ways.

On a larger scale, the issue of players leaving for foreign clubs without compensation is an MLS and U.S. Soccer matter that has to be worked out. U.S. Labor Laws and the Worldwide practice of training compensation for players poached from other clubs don’t mesh, and MLS Academies are suffering because of it.

From Dallas’ standpoint, it’s a major issue with the Academy talent being developed. Weston McKennie left and is seeing first-team minutes in the Bundesliga (a major congratulations are in order, by the way), while Devin Vega stayed on trial with FCD after aging out of the Academy, but was not offered a contract and signed with USL’s San Antonio as a result. We've seem amicable and non-amicable departures already and more cases are sure to follow with some of the most talented age groups coming up fast through the system.

President Dan Hunt has gone on record about explorations into an FC Dallas USL club, where Academy players can be signed as a professional option without leaving the club outright. But it’s just that, an option. There’s no mechanism in place to prevent or re-coup the investment on players in the Academy that decide to leave, and that’s the larger issue at hand in the coming months and years in the development of American talent around the league.

It feels like we need a big shake up with the team. What are your thoughts on Craft, Pomykal, and Ferreira seeing the pitch? - FCD Fangirl

While I hear the calls for the Youngsters across the fan base - and on a smaller scale am all for showcasing some of the hungry youth - I don’t think a full-scale overhaul of the roster for one simple reason: it’s crunch time.

We’ve seen what a few young Homegrowns can do over the course of the first part of the year, but it’s not time for a full-scale overhaul of the Starting XI simply because of the time of year we’re approaching. Smaller scale sink-or-swim tests have proven effective for Pomykal, Ferreira and Cannon (on a non-MLS scale), but in the team’s current funk with the top end of the roster, I’m not sure the answer is to throw the young, inexperienced players into the deep end. While it could pay off dividends, sometimes rushing young players along does more harm in development than it does good. Especially for a team that still has goals of a length playoff run. One or two getting an opportunity? Great. But let’s not throw all the kids on the field in such a crucial part of the season while already slipping position in the Conference standings.