Development Academy Alumni - Where Are They Now?
Being a part of the Development Academy post-season is often the high point in the budding careers of many young players, and it is the goal of the Academy to make sure it is only the beginning. Several have gone on to professional clubs both in the United States and abroad. As coaches and scouts try to predict who will be the breakout players from this year’s event, ussoccer.com takes a look back at three Development Academy alumni who have used their experience as a platform for the future.
July 11, 2011
Juan Agudelo has turned heads with a promising start to his professional and international careers, the forward on the fast track to growth for both club and country. Before going pro, Agudelo began with the New York Red Bulls Academy in 2007 and participated in the 2009 Finals Week with the U-15/16 team. In that same year, he played two games for the U.S. at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria. On March 26, 2010, Agudelo became the first Academy player to sign with the first team in New York. Despite only two appearances in the regular season, he started both games for Red Bulls in the playoffs. Performance and fortuitous timing led to his inclusion with the full U.S. National Team at the 2010 Nelson Mandela Challenge against South Africa, where he scored the game-winner in the 1-0 victory to become the youngest player in modern history to tally for the United States. The first Development Academy alum to play for the full team, he has already amassed double digits in caps, including five appearances in the USA’s run to the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
The former Dallas Texans forward appeared at the 2009 edition of Development Academy Finals Week, and in 2010 while preparing for the fall season at Creighton University got a trial with Derby County in the English League Championship. The whirlwind to his professional career spun into high gear when the 19-year-old signed a contract with Derby on Aug. 6, 2010, appearing in his first league match eight days later. He went on to make 14 appearances for Wolves, including five as a starter. In December of 2010, the dual Irish-American citizen debuted with the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team. As part of the team that competed in the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, Doyle had a goal and two assists in the opening game against Suriname and another against hosts Guatemala. He added a goal in each of the two friendlies against France last month.
The skillful native of Honduras is a second-year pro for D.C. United who began his affiliation with the club in 2008 when he joined the Academy. The following year, he played right back with their U-16s and tallied four goals before moving up to the U-18 side and scoring another nine. That same year, he helped his team advance to Finals Week where he led all scorers in the tournament while being named to the 2009 Development Academy Starting XI. On March 22, 2010, Najar signed a professional contract with the club at the age of 17, becoming the second Academy player from the United program to be promoted to the first team after goalkeeper Bill Hamid. The up-and-coming midfielder had a breakout debut season, playing in 26 of 30 matches and depositing a team-high seven goals along with two assists. Not surprisingly, Najar earned 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year honors and was also named D.C. United’s Most Valuable Player.