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WTR Mailbag – On Patience in Youth

Waking the Red's midweek-ish call for your questions – Post-Columbus, Pre-San Jose Edition

jordan hamilton
Three Years... A lot can happen in three years


Everything is about now these days.

Patience, the ability to wait for things to come, seems to have gone by the wayside.... Maybe it was always that way, but as the old adage goes, good things come to those who wait.

Take the case of Jordan Hamilton.

Prior to the start of June, many were questioning whether the 20-year old had a future at the club.

Signed at the tender age of 17 after some impressive years with the TFC Academy and with Canada internationally, Hamilton was the ninth player in club history to sign a homegrown deal. In the intervening two seasons, Hamilton barely saw the pitch with the first team, amassing just 14 minutes.

But then, injury to Jozy Altidore, and the pre-season departures of Luke Moore and Herculez Gomez, provided an opening for the young man. One he has grasped with both hands.

The chance came with Sebastian Giovinco's injury in New York, granting Hamilton a 31-minute run out – trebling his total minutes in MLS in a single go. He then scored a brace against Montreal in the Voyageurs Cup days later. Since then, he has added three more in the league – in his last four matches no less – proving those doubters wrong.

And with every performance he has grown. Once knocked off the ball with ease, he is playing to his size. Once lost on the pitch trying to do too much, he has refined his game, making those predatory runs to get into position.

Take his goal on Wednesday against Columbus.

It is easy to overlook, but Hamilton was actually the one who won the ball in midfield, tracking back to touch to Jonathan Osorio, who then played to Benoit Cheyrou.

As soon as he had, Hamilton, alertly, got back into line with the Columbus defence, and when the pass came to Jay Chapman, Hamilton was already peeling off the centre-back to make the space to receive and finish.

Goal can be viewed here - embed is being a problem

Such a striker's finish too; a goal he all but crafted himself.

It is, of course, premature to herald the youngster too much. Consistency over the longer term will be required, but little victories should be celebrated. Regardless of what this season brings, he has proven that he can succeed at this level, given the time and the opportunity to do so.

The lesson that should be culled from this experience is that youth is written off at one's own peril.

One of the criticisms of the MLS system has been that young players have a difficult time getting a foot-hold in the system. Proven assets move freely around the league, but too often those drafted barely get a sniff of proving their worth.

It has gotten better over the past few years. The homegrown system, the addition of USL programs as a replacement for the insufficiency that was the Reserve League, and loans between the first team and the smattering of II's out there.

But still many are too quick to judge a young player.

This process should be kept in mind when looking at the likes of Chapman, Mo Babouli, Quillan Roberts, and Chris Mannella. So too for Alex Bono, Tsubasa Endoh, Marky Delgado, Dan Lovitz, and even Nick Hagglund and Eriq Zavaleta.

These are all young men growing into their profession. Give them time, and like Hamilton, they will prove what they can do.

That cross-field move from Chapman to show for Cheyrou and then the pass was a glimpse of what he can do in the attacking portions of the field. Heretofore, he had largely been tasked with battling in the muck that is an MLS midfield – a place one could argue is the most difficult part of the pitch to grow into in the league, with a lot of talent and a lot of grit.

There was a pass from Endoh against Seattle, picking out Giovinco, and leading to the goal, that was as good as anything any of the Argentine imports to the league could muster.

Babouli has shown his raw abilities, Lovitz his strength out wide, and Delgado his work-rate in the midfield.

Zavaleta has basically proved a starter already, Hagglund in adjusting to a wide role, and providing depth at the back is useful, while Bono, a few nervous moments aside, has shown that his draft position was not undeserved.

The time will come for Roberts and Mannella; so too for Clement Simonin, who has struggled with fitness.

Even the now-veteran Ashtone Morgan, still just 25 years old in his sixth season in MLS, whom many have seen as superfluous, still has room to develop his skill sets – adding the outside midfielder/wing-back to his portfolio over the last season or so.

His case is a reminder that age is not the only measuring stick that should be considered when evaluating so-called 'youth'.

Patience. Development does not happen overnight.

Patience. Good things come to those who wait.


Please leave your questions or comments in the section below and WTR staff will respond in kind