Congratulations to Dave Romney, the first player signed to a first team LA Galaxy contract from Los Dos.
He's shown promises in his appearances with the first team and he was duly rewarded with a contract reflecting his status. He made his MLS debut on July 25th against Houston, a match for which he was loaned up to the Galaxy from Los Dos. Before that, he played minutes for the Galaxy against Barcelona and Club America in the International Champions Cup, joining Ariel Lassiter and Daniel Steres this Summer as the only players to record first team minutes while being members of Los Dos.
"Curt Onalfo has done a tremendous job developing players with LA Galaxy II and we are excited to see Dave continue to develop as a player," said the LA Galaxy head coach regarding the signing.
This sudden influx of young talent to the first team from the LA Galaxy II program is obviously a milestone for both branches of the club and highlights the effectiveness of the USL reserve team system, while also clearly outlining a path to MLS for players who need to develop after playing at the NCAA level.
It's a bridge system that fills a hulking gap in development, and Bruce Arena is conscious of that, as well as the fact that he can now continue to develop a player whose learning curve isn't quite as steep as it would have been otherwise.
So, in and of itself, this move isn't conceptually noteworthy beyond the fact that it's a milestone for the club and a just reward for a player who has earned his stripes.
It's great that the Galaxy essentially did this kid a solid by giving him a first-team contract complete with MLS-level money and benefits, but did they have to? Of course, eventually they'd have to offer him a first team contract if he proved a valuable asset, otherwise the club would risk losing him to another outfit.
But for now, why not take him on a loan through the end of the season? From a business standpoint, it's a smaller cap hit, but you still get to show off the ability of your system to produce viable players. Of course, it's great that the Galaxy gave him a first team contract because it shows they aren't willing to take advantage of their system in a way that puts players at a financial disadvantage.
However, it could also be more than that. What if the Galaxy are making an example out of Romney? What if they're using him as the poster boy for their development system? Rewarding a standout performer with a contract reflective of his progress to the next level is a move that shows the league and the American soccer landscape at large that there is a route in place that is working and shows promise for the future, while also motivating future prospects to take that route.
If youth players, both in the Galaxy system as well as all over the country, see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel to be found and a path to top flight professional soccer that doesn't involve trying their luck in Europe's lower levels or presents an alternative to the NCAA model, they're going to be more likely to take that path and to believe in it as a vehicle that can take them where they want to go.
Now, this doesn't look like it will translate into an immediate flood of additional players either choosing this path or being signed to first team contracts from within the group, but it's another milestone that the LA Galaxy can add to their list since starting Los Dos.
What does it mean for the future? Well, time will tell. What does it mean for Dave Romney's future? Time will also tell. If he can take this opportunity by the horns and wrestle it into meaningful minutes sooner rather than later, then he'll be opening the door for plenty of others to do the same.
And that would be awesome.
So, what do you think? How does this shape the short term and long term future of the Galaxy? Of MLS? Of USL? Of the academy system? Of player development in the USA? Of ANYTHING?
Let us know.