(Editor's Note: Currently, only Tommy Redding has the official designation of "Homegrown Player" for Orlando City. Though Tyler Turner was signed as a 17-year-old, he is not technically considered a Homegrown Player by MLS.)
It's hard to watch an MLS match without hearing "Homegrown Player" come up. While this is part of Major League Soccer's marketing plan, it is also a testament to the players the league is beginning to develop.
Don Garber and MLS have allocated a larger piece of the financial pie to youth systems and player development than ever before. They have begun to put a heavy emphasis on Homegrown Players in their TV commercials and in their overall marketing strategy.
It may seem like risky business to rely so heavily on unproven players who could fizzle out or fail to reach the level of stratum that puts fans in seats, but fortunately that has not been the case. The marquee Homegrown Players have been excelling in the limelight and seem to be doing something noteworthy at every possible chance.
This summer, Seattle Sounders star DeAndre Yedlin became the first Homegrown Player to play in a World Cup, and his performances have made him a household name. Gyasi Zardes has had a fine season with the L.A. Galaxy and just became the first Homegrown Player to score in an MLS Cup Final. In a surprising upset, D.C. United's most notable Homegrown Player, Bill Hamid, beat out Nick Rimando for Goalkeeper of the Year.
It seems obvious that the goal for Major League Soccer is to develop its own stars, and we are beginning to see this plan come to fruition.
How will this affect Orlando City SC?
Currently, Orlando City has only one Homegrown Player on the roster in Tommy Redding. Also present is fellow U-20 defender Tyler Turner, who is not designated as an HGP. Both under the age of 20, Turner and Redding were important pieces to City's regular season winning side in last year's USL Pro season, and were among the first signings for the new MLS club.
The defensive duo has been regularly involved in the U.S. U-18 National Team and has recently begun to break into the U-20 team as well. For the month of December, the two will train with Portuguese giants S.L. Benfica, after which they will join up with the YNT for its January camp.
Turner and Redding are both still very young and have a lot to prove, but so far they have impressed on every stage on which they have performed. The defenders have shown a lot of potential and the mental toughness necessary to make the jump from a prospect to a star.
It is still uncertain if Turner and Redding will remain with Orlando City for the 2015 MLS season or if they will be loaned to affiliate club Louisville City FC in USL Pro. Orlando City's roster is still missing many outfield players, so much of their fate will depend on who Adrian Heath brings in to the Lions' back line in the off-season.
Their young careers show all the signs of a successful future, however, only time will tell if Turner and Redding break into the league as Homegrown poster boys like Zardes, Yedlin, and Columbus Crew's Wil Trapp.