Major League Soccer’s talented roster is set for the 2019 MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer®, as players from the youth national teams of the United States and Canada will represent the league in the annual showcase. The team, to be coached by Orlando City SC Academy Director Marcelo Neveleff, features some of the league’s most accomplished young stars who will take on Chivas de Guadalajara’s Under-20 team on Tuesday, July 30 at 3:00 PM MT (UDN / Twitter.com) at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.
The MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer® will be part of an exciting night of action at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. As part of a dual-event ticket, fans will be able to enjoy both the MLS Homegrown Game at 3:00 PM MT, followed by the MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by Target at 6:00 PM MT. Tickets are available for purchase at: www.MLSsoccer.com/AllStar.
The Homegrown Team is highlighted by five players who helped the United States to a record third straight quarterfinals appearance at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup including goalkeeper David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), defender Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew SC), FC Dallas midfielders Edwin Cerrillo and Brandon Servania, and forward Justin Rennicks (New England Revolution). Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio, who could represent the United States at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in September, joins the Homegrown Team after becoming the youngest player in league history to score in three straight matches earlier this season.
Orlando City SC forward Benji Michel will represent his hometown at the Homegrown Game, another accolade after receiving his first call to the United States U-23 team in June. Joining Michel from the U.S. U-23 camp on the Homegrown Team is Philadelphia Union 18-year-old midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who has emerged as a regular starter for the top team in the Eastern Conference this season. Orlando City SC goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar will also be playing in front of the hometown crowd at the MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer®.
Representing Canada at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup and on the Homegrown Team is Toronto FC 18-year-old midfielder Noble Okello. Okello was also one of four players on the Homegrown roster to play for Canada’s U-20 team at the Concacaf U-20 Championship including forward Theo Bair (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), midfielder Mathieu Choinière (Montreal Impact), and defender Daniel Kinumbe (Montreal Impact).
Joining a list of formidable opponents to participate in the MLS Homegrown Game, Chivas de Guadalajara’s Under-20 team brings an accomplished track record to the match. The club captured the Liga MX Clausura 2019 Under-20 title and features numerous players that have received time with both the Chivas reserve squad and the first team side that has captured three titles over the previous three years. The Chivas U-20 traveling roster will be named at a later date.
Orlando City SC Academy Director Marcelo Neveleff will serve as the head coach for the Homegrown Team against Chivas. Neveleff previously served as the first team assistant coach for the New England Revolution and was part of the staff to coach the United States at the 2017 Concacaf U-20 Championship.
2019 MLS Homegrown Team Roster
Goalkeepers: Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), Mason Stajduhar (Orlando City SC)
Defenders: Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew SC), Daniel Kinumbe (Montreal Impact), Erik McCue (Houston Dynamo), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)
Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Edwin Cerrillo (FC Dallas), Mathieu Choinière (Montreal Impact), Noble Okello (Toronto FC), Thomas Roberts (FC Dallas), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas)
Forwards: Theo Bair (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Handwalla Bwana (Seattle Sounders FC), Omir Fernandez (New York Red Bulls), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC), Justin Rennicks (New England Revolution)
MLS Homegrown Game History
2018: MLS Homegrown Team 1-1 Tigres UANL U-20s
2017: MLS Homegrown Team 2-2 Chivas de Guadalajara U-20s
2016: MLS Homegrown Team 0-1 Mexico U-20s
2015: MLS Homegrown Team 1(4)-1(5) Club América U-20s
2014: MLS Homegrown Team 0–0 Portland Timbers U-23s
Bios for 2019 MLS Homegrown Team
Brenden Aaronson l Midfielder l Philadelphia Union l Nationality: USA l October 22, 2000
Aaronson has 16 starts in 18 games during his first MLS season after signing a Homegrown Player contract on September 17, 2018. The 18-year-old, who earned a recent call-up to U.S. U-23 camp in June, was a key contributor to leading Bethlehem Steel FC, the club’s USL affiliate, to the postseason last year. His six goals in 14 appearances for the Union’s U-19 academy team during the 2017-18 season complemented his deep roots in Philadelphia’s youth system, which date back to age 10 with the Union Juniors Pre-Academy. This is Aaronson’s first Homegrown Game selection.
Theo Bair | Forward | Vancouver Whitecaps FC | Nationality: Canada | Born: August 27, 1999
The 19-year-old signed his Homegrown Player contract on July 17, 2018 after joining the Whitecaps FC residency program in 2015. Bair has appeared in three matches for Vancouver in his inaugural MLS season, including substitute appearances in the club’s two most recent regular season matches. A member of Canada’s Youth National Team, Bair has represented the U-20 squad at the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship in addition to the U-23 team this year. This is Bair’s first Homegrown Game selection.
Bassett became the youngest signing in Colorado Rapids history when he signed a Homegrown Player contract on August 10, 2018. The now 17-year-old, who was called into U.S. U-18 camp in January, has a goal and two assists over 10 starts and 14 appearances this season. His strong 2019 follows a 2018 rookie campaign that included six appearances, three starts, and a goal to become the club’s Academy Player of the Year. This is Bassett’s first Homegrown Game selection.
Gianluca Busio l Midfielder l Sporting Kansas City l Nationality: USA l May 28, 2002
At the time of his signing on August 25, 2017, Busio became the second-youngest player in league history to sign an MLS contract. The now 17-year-old, with U.S. Youth National Team experience at the U-15 and U-17 levels, this season became the youngest player ever to score in three consecutive MLS games. His three goals and five starts in 12 appearances for 2019 builds on a 2018 debut that featured a goal and an assist in seven games played. Busio led the United States to second place at the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship, scoring five goals en route to a tournament Best XI selection. The midfielder is could represent the United States in September’s 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup. This is Busio’s first Homegrown Game selection.
Handwalla Bwana | Forward | Seattle Sounders FC | Nationality: Kenya/USA | Born: June 25, 1997
Bwana joined the Sounders FC academy in 2015 before signing a Homegrown Player contract with the club on January 11, 2018. The Kenya-born forward played two seasons at the University of Washington before signing a professional contract. Bwana scored two goals and notched one assist in 12 appearances during his debut MLS season in 2018. Thus far in 2019, Bwana has totaled one goal in 10 appearances for the club in regular season action. Bwana has earned his first Homegrown Game selection.
Mathieu Choinière | Midfielder | Montreal Impact | Nationality: Canada | Born: February 7, 1999
Choinière joined the Impact academy in 2011 at the age of 12 before signing a Homegrown Player contract on July 17, 2018. The Quebec native has represented Canada at the U-18, U-20 and U-23 levels, and was part of the squad at the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship. Choinière has become a regular for the Impact this season, appearing in 13 matches including starts in the two most recent regular season matches. This is Choinière’s first Homegrown Game selection.
Edwin Cerrillo | Midfielder | FC Dallas | Nationality: USA | Born: October 3, 2000
Cerrillo has played in the FC Dallas academy since 2015 before signing a Homegrown Player contract on February 14, 2019. In his first MLS season, Cerrillo has emerged as a regular starter for the club, tallying one assist across 11 appearances, 10 of which are starts. The 18-year-old was part of the United States squad at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup that advanced to the quarterfinals. This is Cerrillo’s first Homegrown Game selection.
Omir Fernandez | Forward | New York Red Bulls | Nationality: USA | Born: February 8, 1999
Fernandez has played in the Red Bulls academy since 2011 at the age of 12. The 20-year-old played two seasons at Wake Forest before signing a Homegrown Player contract with New York on January 26, 2019. In his debut MLS season, Fernandez has been a regular contributor for the Red Bulls, tallying two goals and two assists across 13 regular season matches. Fernandez has represented the United States at the U-18 and U-20 national team levels. This is Fernandez’s first Homegrown Game selection.
Matt Freese | Goalkeeper | Philadelphia Union | Nationality: USA | Born: September 2, 1998
Freese signed a Homegrown Player contract with Philadelphia on December 21, 2018 following an impressive college career at Harvard. The keeper has also represented the United States at numerous youth national team levels, most recently for the U.S. U-19 National Team. Frees has appeared in six matches for the Union this season, compiling a 3-1-2 record in those matches.
Aboubacar Keita | Defender | Columbus Crew SC | Nationality: USA | Born: April 6, 2000
A member of the USA’s 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup squad, Keita signed as a Homegrown Player with Crew SC on Jan. 22, 2019. The 19-year-old center back made his MLS debut on July 3, starting and playing the full 90 minutes against Real Salt Lake. At the U-20 World Cup in Poland, Keita started in all five matches to lead the U.S. into the tournament’s quarterfinal stage. In 2018, Keita was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman Team, helping the University of Virginia to a 10-4-3 overall record and a run to the Third Round of the 2018 NCAA College Cup.
Daniel Kinumbe | Defender | Montreal Impact | Nationality: Israel/Canada | Born: March 15, 1999
Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and raised in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Kinumbe represented the Montreal Impact’s academy starting in 2016 and signed a Homegrown Player contract on Nov. 16, 2018. He has been a part of Canada’s national team program since he was 15. Last year, Kinumbe played for Canada’s U-20s in the Concacaf U-20 Championship and also represented Canada’s U-21s in the Toulon Tournament in France, playing every minute of all four matches. Kinumbe made his MLS debut on June 5, 2019, earning the start during Montreal’s 2-1 victory against Seattle Sounders FC.
Erik McCue | Defender | Houston Dynamo | Nationality: Sweden/USA | Born: Jan. 18, 2001
The Onsala native and dual citizen of Sweden and the United States, McCue became the Dynamo’s 10th Academy alum to sign a first-team contract on Oct. 30, 2018. McCue starred for the Dynamo Academy U-17s during the 2017-18 season, playing 25 matches and earning the organization’s Players’ Player of the Year award and the Ricardo Clark Leadership Award. He also represented the Dynamo U-19s in 2018-19. The center back made his professional debut with USL Championship affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC in March of 2019.
Benji Michel | Forward | Orlando City SC | Nationality: USA | Born: October 23, 1997
Born in Orlando, Fla., the hometown Michel joined Orlando City SC’s academy in 2013 before signing a Homegrown Player contract on December 31, 2018. Michel has played in six matches for Orlando in his first MLS season this year, earning a call into the United States U-23 camp in June. The 21-year-old played three seasons at the University of Portland. This is Michel’s first MLS Homegrown Game selection.
David Ochoa | Goalkeeper | Real Salt Lake | Nationality: USA | Born: January 16, 2001
Ochoa signed a Homegrown Player contract with Real Salt Lake on November 28, 2018 and has been with RSL’s academy since 2016. In April 2018, Ochoa became the second-youngest goalkeeper ever to debut in USL play. The 18-year-old represented the United States at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, starting two matches in the team’s march to the quarterfinals of the tournament. This is Ochoa’s first Homegrown Game selection.
Noble Okello | Midfielder | Toronto FC | Nationality: Canada | Born: July 20, 2000
The Toronto native has been part of Toronto FC’s youth system since age 12 and signed as a Homegrown Player on Jan. 22, 2019. Okello has played for Canada’s U-17s through U-23s, and he was a member of the 2017 Concacaf U-17 Championship team and the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship. Most recently, Okello earned his first senior team call-up for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. Okello made his professional debut with Toronto FC II in October of 2017, and he followed that up with a 22-match 2018 campaign in the United Soccer League.
Donovan Pines | Defender | D.C. United | Nationality: USA | Born: March 7, 1998
The center back signed a Homegrown Player contract with D.C. United on Jan. 23, 2019, and Pines had a memorable MLS debut with a start and assist to Luciano Acosta during United’s 3-2 victory against the Colorado Rapids on April 13, 2019. Pines was a collegiate standout at Maryland for three seasons, capping off his tenure with an NCAA Championship crown in 2018. He was named to the 2018 NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team and the 2018 All-Big Ten First Team that season.
Justin Rennicks | Forward | New England Revolution | Nationality: USA | Born: June 22, 2000
Rennicks joined the Revolution academy in 2012 before playing at the University of Indiana for two seasons. The 20-year-old signed a Homegrown Player contract on January 18, 2019, and has scored one goal across two appearances for the Revolution in his first MLS campaign. Rennicks tallied four goals and six assists in leading the United States to win the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship. At the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Rennicks appeared in four matches and scored the game-winning goal against France in the Round of 16 to push the U.S. to the quarterfinals. This is Rennick’s first MLS Homegrown Game selection.
Bryan Reynolds | Defender | FC Dallas | Nationality: USA | Born: June 28, 2001
FC Dallas’ youngest signing at age 15, Reynolds became the organization’s 17th Homegrown Player on Nov. 22, 2016. Reynolds has seen his first regular MLS playing time in 2019, making his league debut in May and garnering his first assist on May 25 in his second MLS match. During his time in FC Dallas’ youth system, Reynolds helped lead the U-16 team to a 2015-16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy crown. The Fort Wayne native has also played for the U.S. U-17s during the 2017 Concacaf U-17 Championship.
Thomas Roberts | Midfielder | FC Dallas | Nationality: USA | Born: May 11, 2001
Raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Roberts joined the FC Dallas academy in 2013 before signing a Homegrown Player contract on July 25, 2018. Roberts has appeared in six matches for FC Dallas this season including three starts. The 18-year-old has also appeared in four matches for USL League One side North Texas SC, scoring one goal. This is Roberts’ first Homegrown Game selection
Brandon Servania | Midfielder | FC Dallas | Nationality: USA | Born: March 12, 1999
Servania joined the FC Dallas academy in 2015 and spent three years with the club before playing one season at Wake Forest. The 20-year-old then signed a Homegrown Player contract with Dallas on January 3, 2018. This season, Servania has played in five matches for FC Dallas, including starts in the clubs four most recent regular season contests. Servania represented the United States at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, appearing in four matches and scoring one goal. This is Servania’s first Homegrown Game selection.
Mason Stajduhar | Goalkeeper | Orlando City SC | Nationality: USA | Born: December 2, 1997
Stajduhar signed as the fourth Homegrown Player for Orlando on November 9, 2015 after joining the Orlando City SC academy in 2013. The 21-year-old has represented the United States at multiple youth levels, most recently with the U-20 team. Stajduhar has appeared in 11 matches for Tulsa Roughnecks FC in USL competition this season while on loan. This is Stajduhar’s first Homegrown Game selection.
The Colorado Springs native, who has played for the Rapids system since 2013 as a 13-year-old, has worked his way into a regular starting role for the first team in 2019. Vines signed a Homegrown Player contract on Feb. 23, 2018, and made his MLS debut in October of that year. Thus far in 2019, Vines has started in nine of 12 appearances while logging 889 minutes. Vines was loaned to United Soccer League affiliate the Charlotte Independence in 2018, appearing in 29 games and logging 2,303 minutes. The 20-year-old has also played for the U.S. Youth National Teams from U-14 to U-20.
Energizer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ENR), headquartered in St. Louis, MO, is one of the world's largest manufacturers of primary batteries and portable lighting products and is anchored by its two globally recognized brands Energizer® and EVEREADY®. Energizer is also a leading designer and marketer of automotive fragrance and appearance products from recognized brands such as Refresh Your Car!®, California Scents®, Driven®, Bahama & Co.®, LEXOL® and Eagle One®. Visit http://www.energizerholdings.com for more details.
About ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, located at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, is one of the premier sites for amateur sports in the nation. The complex hosts more than 100 entertainment and sporting events each year and has accommodated 70 different sports featuring athletes from 70 different countries. Designed to provide professional, amateur and youth athletes with experiences synonymous with the names Disney and ESPN, the 220-acre facility features multiple competition venues, including 16 baseball/softball fields, a 9,500-seat ballpark, 18 multi-purpose outdoor fields for soccer, football and field hockey, three indoor venues for basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, dance and other indoor sports, a track & field facility and a cross country course. For more information, visit www.disneysportsnews.com for news releases, photos and videos. Follow us on Twitter at @ESPNWWOS and at Facebook at ESPNWWOS.
About Major League Soccer
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer features 27 clubs throughout the United States and Canada, including future expansion teams in Nashville, Miami and Austin. The League plans to have 30 clubs in the coming years. For more information about MLS, visit www.MLSsoccer.com.