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FM16: Developing a 4.5 star youth Goalkeeper in MLS


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So I got a message in my inbox from my Head of Youth Development about this youngster they just signed.

He's a 19 year old Finnish Goalkeeper with 4.5 star potential (1 star current ability). Obviously, I want this guy to become my first-team keeper, but I've had absolutely horrible luck (or lack of skill) when it comes to developing goalkeepers. They aren't often wanted on loans, the places MLS teams can loan players are worse than the MLS team they're on, they get little playing time...

I'm just at a loss because I would LOVE for this guy to become my first-team keeper. I've foisted him off on my NASL affiliate currently (Austin Aztex) and he's doing... well, about as well as you would expect a 19 year old to do. 6.26 rating in 9 league apperances (13 goals allowed).

How do you guys develop your youngsters in MLS?

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I very rarely loan out my top prospects, because I find the AI generally does a much worse job of it than I will; loans are reserved for my second-tier prospects who can't get into the first team easily. With a 19 year-old, I'd keep them in-house, give them a proper individual training regime, tutor them, and find cup games or other soft fixtures where they can make appearances. I don't think FM discriminates between goalkeepers and outfield players in its player development model, so you can even bring him on as a substitute in safe spots, unless you feel that's weird and not true to life.

Barring that, make sure they're guaranteed First Team/Key Player wherever they go, make sure you can terminate the loan if they're not getting the minutes they need, and touch base with them regularly to keep their morale in shape. Sooner or later, though, you're going to have to play him. Nothing sadder than a 19-24 year-old whose CA will obviously never reach their PA because they never got game time.

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MLS standard isn't really that high so if your young GK is decent he could probably start some games for you already (maybe in the cup or in less important fixtures if you can dominate regular season early).

As he's finnish he could even attract some interest from european clubs though - managing Toronto FC I was able to send american GK Alex Bono on loan to some danish club for two years - so you could try offering him on loan with the 'offer to clubs' option during european transfer windows. Make sure to showcase him a bit in your first team though :)

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  • 1 year later...

I manage an MLS team in every version of FM since FM14. I used to be able to give the last 15 minutes or even start young GK in FM14, but AI MLS roster management has gotten much better since FM14. The improvement is gradual, but now I can't do that any longer starting at FM16. I only sign the best youth prospects and include them in my tight roster of about 18-20 players. I usually have 0-1 good youth from academy or signed by HoYD that can fit my tactic, so I make it sure I give them the last 15 minutes of MLS games that I'm winning. I also make sure to give them starting minutes if facing a NASL team in the Open Cup or a minnow team in the CCL group stage. After a full season of development, I look at the youth prospect in comparison to the rest of the squad. If they look good enough to start some MLS games, then I'll start them against poor quality MLS teams. I watch the youth prospect throughout the game and yank him out of the game if it looks like his rating is going to dip below 6.2 or 6.3, although this is rare. By the 3rd season, he should be a rotating starter. 

Since my chances of getting a top youth prospect from the academy or from my HoYD is usually 0-1 every season, I really push hard every season to trade up for a top 5 draft pick. Since the draft consist of players from 20-24, you can't really develop their physical attributes, so I only draft players with good physical attributes and develop mentals and technical abilities in their first season. I enjoy developing a draftee and they usually turn into a rotational starter on my squad by their second season. 

I'm willing to sign a good youth prospect that doesn't fit my tactic but could be developed if loaned out every season to my USL side (although this hasn't worked for me yet). 

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I'd keep him, pop him on the bench, and every game you're comfortably ahead at the 70 minute mark, chuck him in for the last 20 minutes. That's the best way to get a player who's not quite at the level where you're comfortable with him playing much some minutes, and nothing will develop a player more than minutes on the pitch. Has to be at least 15, but I err on the side of caution and give them 20 just in case it takes too long for the change to happen.

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