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Benji Joya

Academy Alumni: McNamara, Joya Tally During MLS Opening Weekend Debuts

The 2014 Major League Soccer season kicked off over the March 8-9 weekend, and among the former Development Academy players, it was a memorable debut for two who squared off against each other on Sunday.

Chivas USA’s Thomas McNamara, formerly of FC Westchester, scored a goal in his first MLS match as the host team defeated the Chicago Fire 3-2 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. He slotted a cross at the near left post to give Chivas USA a 2-0 lead in the 59th minute. McNamara was the 20th overall selection (first pick in the second round) by Chivas at the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.

“It was a dream come true, especially getting the win, as well, in a dramatic fashion like that,” McNamara said. “It was just an awesome experience – something that I’ll never forget.”

On the other side in that match, De Anza Force product and Chicago Fire rookie midfielder Benji Joya scored a goal off the bench on his very first touch. The former U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team player was a 63rd-minute sub, and within the first minute of his debut, tapped in the Fire’s first goal of the season to cut Chivas’ lead to 2-1. Joya captained two games at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship as the USA advanced to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

“All I put in my mind was to get the debut, get a goal and get my name on the score sheet, and luckily the first touch I had turned into a goal,” Joya said after the match. “I’m really proud of that.”

SLSG Alum Bruin Records Brace: Houston Dynamo forward and St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri product Will Bruin scored two goals and assisted a Boniek Garcia tally during Houston’s 4-0 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday.

Bruin’s brace and assist all came in the game’s first 23 minutes. It was Bruin’s fifth multi-goal game of his MLS career, and he now has 27 goals in 88 regular-season games.

Alumni Honored by MLS: Bruin and former Seattle Sounders FC Academy defender DeAndre Yedlin were each named to the MLS Team of the Week following the opening week of the season. Former Crew Soccer Academy midfielder Wil Trapp of the Columbus Crew also was recognized as one of seven players named to the bench in this weekly honor.

Miller Earns Early Call: Montreal Impact right back Eric Miller, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and former Minnesota Thunder Academy player, made his professional debut with the start and 90 minutes during the Impact’s 3-2 loss to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Also in that match, PA Classics product Andrew Wenger scored a 65th-minute goal for Montreal to cut FC Dallas’ lead to one, but the Impact was held in check the rest of the way.

Miller’s counterpart, 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup teammate Kellyn Acosta, began his second season in MLS with the start at right back for FC Dallas. Acosta enters his second MLS season, coming off a 2013 rookie campaign where he started in 11 of 13 games and logged 1,004 minutes.