Get excited, Rochester.
2012 saw former Aquinas, Empire United, and FC Buffalo player Krystian Witkowski sign with Philadelphia Union, but the Polish-American didn’t make a single appearance for the MLS club before being released. Another Aquinas and Empire United product could eclipse that accomplishment in 2013. Jordan Allen is set to showcase himself as the most talented soccer player born in the Rochester area.
Krystian Witkowski was only the seventh player from a Rochester area high school to sign with MLS. Brian Bliss, Dema Kovalenko, Aleksey Korol, Yuri Lavrinenko, Jamil Walker, and Ian Pilarski are the other players that have been signed by MLS clubs. However, Witkowski didn’t seen the field in MLS or the Reserve League. The Union had 10 Reserve League fixtures in 2012 and Witkowski failed to make an appearance even once. By that standard, Allen has actually accomplished more than his fellow Rochesterian before young Jordan’s professional career has even begun.
The 17 year old Jordan Allen has been training with Real Salt Lake while playing for their u-16 and u-18 Academy sides the past year. Allen has even featured in a number of Real Salt Lake’s Reserve League matches as an Academy player alongside and against professionals.
Allen has been exceeding expectations at every step in his development. In the 2011-2012 Academy season, Jordan was the only ’95 on a team of very talented ’94s and ’93s at Real Salt Lake’s Academy. Allen has even earned plaudits for his performances at multiple positions for youth national teams. Jordan has twice been named the Development Academy’s national player of the week and is firmly on the national radar.
On February 23, 2011, U.S. Soccer Development Academy named Jordan Allen the top performer across both age divisions nationally for Week 22. The release stated that, “Jordan Allen of the Real Salt Lake AZ U-15/16 team played up on the older U-17/18 team for 60 minutes as it defeated Pateadores 5-0 on Saturday. Throughout the 2011-12 season, Allen has started all 14 fixtures for the club with 10 appearances coming from the U-17/18 age group. Allen has three goals this season.”
Then on April 16, the Development Academy league named Allen the Player of the Week again, this time for his performance in Week 29. “Jordan Allen has regularly played up with Real Salt Lake AZ’s U-17/18 team, and he was a part of two more victories this past weekend. He started and played 75 minutes during Real Salt Lake’s 3-0 win against the San Diego Surf on Saturday, then came on as a halftime substitute to help RSL earn a 4-1 win against Nomads SC on Sunday. Allen now has 13 appearances with the U-17/18 team… Allen played the full 90 minutes during Tuesday’s RSL Reserve League match against FC Dallas. He is the first repeat Player of the Week honoree this season.”
Allen was named the u16 Western Conference Player of the Year for the Development Academy for his outstanding play in both the u-15/16 and the u-17/18 age divisions.
The youth soccer experts over at Top Drawer Soccer have ranked Jordan Allen #4 nationally for his graduation year, 2013. Allen sits behind only Diego Fagundez, Zach Pfeffer, and Jack McBean, which makes Allen the best non-professional in his year as Fagundez is signed with the New England Revolution, Pfeffer with the Philadelphia Union, and McBean with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Can Allen be a Homegrown Player?
Because MLS rules are subject to change and interpretation at any point, this is a difficult question to answer. The Homegrown Player initiative allows MLS clubs to sign rising stars from their Academy teams without going through a draft or lottery process. Allen certainly has met the surface requirements of the Homegrown Rule; he’s played in an MLS academy for a year.
There is however a snag in the details that HG players cannot play for youth national teams before joining an MLS academy. Allen was a member of the u-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida, and was on the team that won the Concacaf u17 championship in February 2011, months before joining RSL’s Casa Grande Academy.
However, MLS is known to shift the murky details of its rules to accommodate teams’ wishes in the past. Specific to the Homegrown Rule, MLS has allowed the Portland Timbers to sign Brent Richards despite not spending the full year required in their development system and Los Angeles Galaxy to sign Jose Villarreal even though the young forward played for the Pateadores academy team which is not affiliated with the MLS team.
How Allen Projects in the Future
For me, Jordan Allen sounds a lot like another youth sensation in MLS circles; Andy Najar. The Honduran D.C. United Academy graduate played the beginning of his career as a right midfielder. When he returned from national team duty at the Olympics, head coach Ben Olsen transitioned Najar to the right back position. This allows Najar to make lung busting overlapping runs (like Tottenham’s Kyle Walker or an early Gareth Bale) while still keeping the team solid in the back.
That transition is precisely the course u-18 coach Javier Perez instructed as he moved Allen to right back for the Lisbon International Tournament in May. American soccer guru Ives Galarcep said of Najar (I can’t find the exact quote) that he could either be a great winger for MLS or a European quality right back. Having spoken to people who haven seen Jordan Allen play, that’s the impression I get of the youngster. His dynamism and two-footed dribbling ability make him a constant threat to the opposition going forward, but his well trained soccer brain make him able to adjust his position in defense while his athleticism allow to track back and catch up with any opposing forward.
2013 will be a big year for Jordan Allen. He has a chance to improve his already large reputation nationally while collecting accolades for his club play and impressing with the u-18 national team. Allen has committed to the University of Virginia for college, but don’t be surprised if Real Salt Lake puts an offer on the table before the college season starts. It is not a matter of if, but rather, when Jordan Allen turns pro. Rochester may have to wait a few years to still to see the best prospect to come out of their city sign a professional contract after college.
Get excited Rochester, this kid is the real deal.