Yesterday, the Philadelphia Union announced the signing of U.S. youth international Auston Trusty.
Trusty joined the club's academy in 2013 and signed a Homegrown deal. He was previously committed to attend the University of North Carolina, however Union head coach Jim Cutin said that the 17-year old defender was getting "a lot of interest" from teams abroad. It wasn't an easy decision to turn pro, as UNC was Trusty's "dream school".
Trusty was a part of the U.S. squad that played in last year's U-17 World Cup and recently participated in the COTIF Tournament with the U-20s. He's made 14 appearances this year in the USL with the Bethlehem Steel (Philadelphia's reserve team), and should continue to play there for the rest of the season.
As pointed out by Top Drawer Soccer's Travis Clark, most of the players from that U-17 World Cup team have signed professional deals:
After Trusty's signing, 16 of the 21 U.S. U17 MNT players on the World Cup roster have turned pro.— Travis Clark (@travismclark) August 10, 2016
There's always going to be debate about the best path for young players. For some, college is the best route. For others, it's a domestic professional league or one of the many places that one can play abroad. There is no "one size fits all" solution, with players making the decision that works best for them.
Major League Soccer has a less than stellar reputation for developing and promoting young talent (particularly in the 18 to 23 age range), but the implementation of professional reserve sides and increased spending on academies should eventually yield fruit. Additionally, a stronger domestic product bolstered by young American players will be beneficial to the national team program.