The MLS Homegrowns have their opponent — and a coach.
Major League Soccer announced Tuesday that the MLS Homegrown Team will take on Tigres UANL, the reigning Mexican league’s Under-20 champion, in the fifth annual MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer® on July 31 (8 pm ET) at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground. The game is part of a week of events during the 2018 MLS All-Star festivities in Atlanta.
In addition to the live national broadcast on Univision Deportes Network (UDN), the MLS Homegrown Game will be streamed live on Twitter for the first time in the history of the event.
Atlanta United Academy director Tony Annan will serve as the head coach for the Homegrown Team against Tigres. Annan, who helped build Atlanta’s academy from the ground up and brings over 20 years of youth development experience to the match, coached the club’s U-17 squad to a national title in the first year of the program.
The MLS Homegrown Game is the latest initiative between Major League Soccer and Liga MX after the two leagues announced an increased partnership in March including a focus on youth development highlighted by an annual showcase match.
The game is also an opportunity to showcase the growth of the league’s youth development system. MLS academies have produced over 150 Homegrown Players who have signed professional contracts with MLS clubs, with academy products logging a record number of goals, assists, minutes and games played in 2017.
In the past year, 13 current Homegrown standouts have been called to represent the U.S. national team, including MLS Homegrown Game alumnus Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Kellyn Acosta(FC Dallas) and Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake). In addition, 11 current Homegrown Players played for the United States in the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup while seven Homegrown Players represented the U.S. at the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup. Outside of the U.S., five Homegrown Players were called to represent the Canada national team at the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup, with Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) winning the tournament’s golden boot.
“The continued growth of Major League Soccer’s youth academy system and development of the future stars of the sport remain at the forefront of the league’s long-term initiatives,” said Todd Durbin, Executive Vice President of Player Relations and Competition. “The MLS Homegrown Game offers a unique opportunity to showcase the talent our clubs have produced. We are excited to have the Tigres Under-20 team as this year’s opponent in another example of how MLS continues to build upon its partnership with Liga MX in the area of youth development."
MLS Homegrown Game History
2017: MLS Homegrown Team 2-2 Chivas de Guadalajara U-20s
2016: MLS Homegrown Team 0-1 Mexico U-20s
2015: MLS Homegrown Team 1(4)-1(5) Club America U-20s
2014: MLS Homegrown Team 0–0 Portland Timbers U-23s