Two of the most exciting, young Canadian players are one step closer to playing in MLS next season. There were question marks about whether the league would be able to work out contracts for both Jay Chapman and Cyle Larin but those questions seem to have been answered.
The issue for Jay Chapman was the flimsy home grown claim that Toronto FC were trying to make on the player. The Michigan State midfielder was in the club's academy up until his senior year of high school but has not trained with the team since then. According to the rules (or the version made available to us) that would mean that TFC would no longer hold a home grown claim on the player and Chapman would instead be eligible for a Generation adidas deal that would see him head into the SuperDraft.
However, TFC lobbied the league to be allowed to sign Chapman as a home grown player and after going back and forth a number of times with some other clubs reportedly being unhappy it seems that the league is going to honour the claim and Chapman will be officially signed by the club in the coming weeks should they be able to agree to personal terms.
The signing of Chapman to a homegrown deal will certainly bother some fans around the league but considering the player's preference was to wind up playing in Toronto and he might otherwise have gone overseas instead allowing this to happen is probably in the best interest of the player, the club, and even the league as a whole. After all, this is not the first time that MLS has allowed a flimsy homegrown claim (looking at you LA) to go through just to ensure that a talented young player winds up in the league.
On the Larin front it seems that the improved offer from MLS is going to be enough to get him to sign on the dotted line. The initial offer from the league was seen as a bit of a lowball and was not enough to get the talented UCONN forward to sign a Generation adidas deal. That was a growing trend in this draft year as a number of players have elected to stay in school (Joshua Yaro, Jordan Morris, and possibly Cristian Roldan) or looking at options overseas (Leo Stolz) leaving the potential SuperDraft class looking thin on talent.
It seems that the most recent offer from the league to Larin opened up the wallet a bit more and was enough to get him interested. With Larin preferring to start his career in MLS he was certainly open to listening to offers but for a while it seemed that MLS was not going to make him the kind of offer he was looking for and he would instead be force to head elsewhere. That all changed with the most recent offer and a deal between the player and the league could be announced as early as this week.
Getting Larin signed is a big boost to the Generation adidas class which is expected to be quite small this year. The league will now need to consider what else they can do to get some of the other top talent available to the draft later this month. Joshua Yaro and Abu Danladi could both have been top picks in the draft but they are instead heading back to college after the offers from MLS were not enough to get them to sign. There is still a chance that Roldan signs but to make that happen the league is going to have to come back to him with an improved offer which is starting to look unlikely.
With the league dropping the ball on the Generation adidas class and missing out on a number of potential home grown signings it is in need of some good press. Confirming the signing of Larin and Chapman in the coming weeks would certainly provide a bit of that.
The good news for Larin is that MLS failing to sign most of the top prospects has all but paved the way for him to be taken first overall in the draft. His main competition for the top spot seems to be out of the way now and the question should be which team will be taking him first overall. Orlando City currently hold the pick but they could deal it prior to draft day if the right offer comes along. There will certainly be some interest from teams in acquiring the pick with Larin attracting interest from around the league.
MLS may not be able to completely salvage the draft class but getting Larin signed up will be a major boost. The lack of other names signing deals though is concerning for Toronto FC who are going to be forced to look for other options with all of their first round picks in what is suddenly looking like a very thin draft class. At least, they should have Chapman under contract which will give them one of the top talents available as the midfielder would have been a lock to go top 5 had he been forced to go through the draft.