One of the things that initially impressed me about Chivas USA was their commitment to youth. Since the club was founded, officials have talked about their desire to provide opportunities to youngsters who might not otherwise have had one.
Three years in, Chivas USA has not slowed down in their commitment to developing young talent. This weekend, 38 teams from across the U.S. participated in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Fall Classic tournament at Home Depot Center. The only MLS club to have a presence was Chivas USA.
Say what you will about their parent club's philosophy and their attendance shortcomings, Chivas USA is setting the standard for other clubs to follow when it comes to scouting and providing opportunities to youth.
But don't just take it from me. Here's what U.S. Under-17 coach John Hackworth told Billy Witz of the L.A. Daily News.
"Chivas is doing a fantastic job. They're ahead of the other (MLS clubs). The player-development process in this country is not geared toward youth players maturing and growing. It's about youth players being overused. There has to be fundamental instruction from influential agents. Professional clubs have to be the leaders in this."
You might be wondering if Chivas' efforts will really yield a player or two. After all, Eder Robles made the team but he's hardly the next Jonathan Bornstein. Well, consider this. At the age of 18, Edgar Castillo left his New Mexico home to tryout for Santos Laguna of Mexico. He was offered a contract, eventually made the first team, cracked the starting lineup and became a fixture at left back and received a call to the Mexican national team, all in less than three years.
There are other Castillos out there, and if any MLS team finds them, it's going to be Chivas USA.