U.S. U-17 star Flores signs with Dortmund

U17 MNTvsBrazilJD201169

Photo by John Dorton/ISIphotos.com

U.S. Under-17 men's national team attacking midfielder Junior Flores is one of the top prospects in the American pipeline, and German Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund are convinced he could be one for the future.

Dortmund has signed the 16-year-old Flores to a professional contract, the Orlando Sentinel's Paul Tenorio reported on Twitter on Thursday evening. The professional portion of the contract will take effect in March of 2014, when he turns 18 (by FIFA rule, players can't sign binding professional contracts outside of their home nation until they turn 18).

Flores signed a four-year deal with the club and he is expected to train with Dortmund periodically between now and until he turns 18. According to the Washington Post, Flores also signed a two-year deal with Nike, which kicks in immediately.

Flores had a breakout showing with the U.S. Under-17 team last winter and that drew reported interest from clubs across the globe, including Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool. Flores had also received interest from MLS, but what it offered was substantially lower than what Dortmund was willing to give him.

Born in Los Angeles to Salvadoran parents, Flores is eligible to play for El Salvador or the United States at the international level but, to this point, he has committed to playing for the Americans.

What do you think about this move? Like the idea of another U.S. youth prospect developing in Germany? Disappointed MLS didn't sign him?

Share your thoughts below.

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55 Responses to U.S. U-17 star Flores signs with Dortmund

  1. Amru says:

    As much as I would like to see us develope our own talent it’s still nice to see more young Americans being recruited by big European clubs

  2. chris says:

    Im glad he didnt sign with MLS. Teams have no idea how to develop talent

  3. Modibo says:

    Klinsi will like this.

  4. James says:


  5. Skeeter says:

    probably had something to do with it

  6. Jim says:

    pardon my ignorance, but can he be loaned to an MLS team the next few years?

  7. Jamie Z. says:

    Perfect! Maybe he can convince Subotic to play for the US national team!

  8. ted says:

    Just curious, if he was playing for an MLS developmental team instead of his current club would they be able to offer him more now? i.e. D.C. United instead of McLean Youth? or is the difference between money at 18 and money now that big?

  9. Jamie Z. says:

    But seriously, that’s great. Dortmund are a hell of a team.

  10. The Dream says:

    MLS usually prefer loans that have an option to buy at the end. Seeing as this is a four year contract worth more money, it seems unlikely MLS would spring for it. I might be completely wrong on this, though.

  11. chris says:

    Probably not since this was leaked before klinsi was hired

  12. Aguinaga says:

    Agree somewhat. A bit harsh to say MLS teams have no idea. MLS does have some young talent development ability and isn’t completely clueless (see Altidore, Jozy or Bradley, Michael) for example. I think you could also argue that players on the younger side like Freddy Montero and Juninho continued to be nurtured here, at least to the point where they can make a bigger jump. That said, no argument here when it comes to difference between MLS and Euro development of young players far as both the speed of their progress and depth of development resources at the club level. Doesn’t take much to get the impression that while most top 17 year old soccer prospects around the world are already beginning their pro careers by that age, most of the American equivalents are enjoying their senior year of high school / choosing a college.

  13. Zing! says:

    He signs in 2 years, what does he do for the time in between? I see it says he is expected to train with them occasionally, but how does this help his development exactly?

    (SBI-He’s on a developmental contract, and will go train with the team when he can, but for now he finishes school and stays with the U-17s. Basically it’s a way around the FIFA rules, but they can’t flat out break the rules by having him live in Germany and train with the team before he is 18.)

  14. Skeeter says:

    They signed him last year?

  15. Sarasota says:

    Vamos Flores y Estados Unidos!!!!!

  16. sir coble says:

    He still resides primarily in Bradenton.

  17. Vic says:

    He’s still with the U-17 national team in the Bradenton Residency program. I assume after that ends he will join Dortmund’s youth team.

  18. fischy says:

    I agree, but as a DC United fan, I have expressed my disappointment that Flores never found his way into the DC United Academy. Instead, he developed out in the Virginia suburbs, reportedly because his family didn’t want the commute to the DCU set-up. I think the team needs to acknowledge this is a problem, and one that can be remedied by expanding the reach with satellite operations in Virginia and Maryland.

    The reason Flores is heading to Europe isn’t the better training, if you believe what his dad is saying. Plain and simple, it’s money. If Flores had been in the Academy, the team could have gone outside the limits imposed by the cap to offer a juicy development deal –one which would have started paying Flores now, instead of 2 years from now, when he’s age-eligible for Europe.

    So, United could remedy this in part by having multiple locations and much greater investment in development. Or, the league could tweak the Homegrown rules to allow teams to go outside their own academies to sign players from a prescribed hometown region.

  19. chris says:

    He signed with a unidentified team last year but the team was never confirmed until now

  20. fischy says:


    I have to think that if Flores had been in the DCU system, the new owners would have opened up their bank accounts big and wide to sign him.

    As you probably know, the Homegrown system would have allowed the team to pay him “off-budget” — so, he develop without impacting the salary cap.

    It’s the rare case where a player of his talent comes through — such a sure thing that the local MLS club might be willing to match what the European clubs are paying. One other advantage for Flores would have been that he could have started collecting his salary now, with DCU…whereas he has to wait 2 years to get money from Dortmund, until he’s age-eligible

  21. fischy says:

    That’s not true. There was a report last fall — for a small local media site — that he had signed with a European team. According to a tweet by a Washington Post reporter, Junior’s dad denied that story.

  22. fischy says:

    You have a lot to say here, and I haven’t found any of it to be accurate.

  23. rory says:

    Does Germany not have passport requirement for work visa or does he have a grandparent that is European? I know England is the pickiest about that stuff but didn’t know how Germany did it.

  24. chris says:

    See that’s the thing. There is this false assumption that players want to play on MLS academy teams or that they are that much better off playing for them. Look at Pelosi, Byiev, Koroma, Hayes, Manneh, Flores and many more. Some of the best players in this country haven’t played for MLS teams. There is no proof that signing for MLS at early age is best for a player. Look at all the homegrowns that haven’t done anything. Look at how sh!tty Agudelo has become, look at Luis Gil he hasn’t amounted to what he was touted to be. People keep complaining that MLS should be keeping these type of players but the fact is MLS doesn’t offer enough developmentally for these players to pass on other options.

  25. MKS says:

    Yes, disappointing that he has not been picked up by MLS. But it’s more of a disappointment that MLS is not structured in such a way, or mature enough yet to make it possible. Probably 100 reasons for this. Among which are lack of revenues generated by a large enough fan base, uneven competitive quality amongst MLS clubs, no promotion/relegation system, MLS league structure, American youth dev mentality and playing style, and the NFL. It’s going to take time, but eventually things will evolve and MLS will be able to retain youth players and leave the retiring DP model behind.

  26. QuakerOtis says:

    Proof that Aelxi Lalas reads and comments on SBI articles.

    MLS teams might spend “a lot” on him, but how “open” are the wallets of MLS owners to begin with? They are only as “open” as they are fat. “A lot” in MLS terms is, what, a milion? A million plus? This — especially in dollars versus euros versus the British pound — is peanuts for a promising creative midfielder. MLS simply won’t spend as much as a team like Dortmund IF Flores meets expectations.

    Plus, how much easier is it to be noticed by Ligue 1 or the Championship or EPL while on the Dortmund youth or reserve team versus ANY MLS first team?

    There’s still more incentive to go to Europe. Quality of training is still rpobably better as well, even if only due to higher expectations and greater pressure.

  27. James says:

    Though, why sign a pro contract? Why not a youth one, so he could join their youth team right away? (This is my vast FM experience talking btw, I might be wrong)

  28. chris says:

    He would have been a generation addidas player just like Gil there fore off budget. You should probably check your facts first before you complain about me

  29. Kelly says:

    Work permit requirements don’t apply to youth signings.

  30. Joe+G says:

    Looks like its much easier to get on in Germany. See Joe Gyau and Charles Renken.

  31. Joe+G says:

    or Villyan Bijev

  32. fischy says:

    I din’t say they want to play for MLS academy teams. However, I’m sure they all recognize that their prospects are more certain if they go through the MLS system, than if they’re up against the stiffer competition for jobs in Europe.

    I believe that every one of the players you mentioned never played for MLS academy teams. So, you can’t really offer more than conjecture as to how have might have responded if MLS offered similar money.

    The thing is that MLS teams are constrained by the cap. The European teams are offering the equivalent of DP money to these kids .MLS teams aren’t going to use big chunks of their cap space to offer DP money to an American teenager who won’t be ready to play in the league for years.

    Look at Luis Gil, who is the best comparison to Flores. As good as he was — and as he good as he is for his age — he’s taken a whole to work his way into the starting lineup. He certainly isn’t at DP level.

    As for Flores in particular — and my comment was actually limited just to his case — his Dad said MLS wasn’t even close to offering the same money. He wasn’t just mentioning that as an aside. He was explaining why Junior signed with Dortmund. So, we know in his case, that this was the chief factor.

    As for players like Pelosi — neither you nor I have any clue how he might have responded to a six-figure (or even a high six-figure) salary offer from MLS.

    Regarding their career trajectory that’s also speculation. There’s a long list forming of US kids who went to Europe and flamed out. Some of them have come back here and even struggled to get slots with MLS. The ones who stay here and go to college often outperform the ones with Euro-training. What does or does not happen for a kid probably has more to do with the kid than it does where he goes for soccer finishing school.

  33. Joe Ahmadzai says:

    I completely agree. I am as big an American fan as you can get, and I love hearing about all of our toung talent, but that talent needs to stay out of the MLS if they want to go on to be successful club and national players. The MLS is fine for players in their mid 20’s and later to try and use it as a launching point, like Cameron, Edu, Holden, Rogers, Guzan, etc. but if you’re 21,20,19,18 and younger and you show a lot of signs for development, then get your a$$ over seas. Just remember where you were born and raised and not turn your back on us like Subotic and De Rossi.

  34. fischy says:

    You’re mixing up apples and oranges. Either you’re missing my point, or you don’t appreciate the difference between Homegrown and Gen Ad.

    Generation Adidas deals are off-budget, initially, and subject to review until the player starts playing regularly. That’s true. That’s also a little different than Homegrown contracts.

    However, the Gen Adidas money is coming from….Adidas and MLS. Neither of which have the same interest in a player that a team would have.

    MLS dictates the terms of the Gen Ad deals…and they really low-balled players coming out of college last year, in a bid to to make the MLS Academy program seem more attractive…more attractive because the teams could offer much more lucrative Homegrown contracts.

    I stand by my statement that, if he had come through the DCU Academy — if DCU could have offered him a Homegrown development deal — which is what the question presumed — that the team cold have and would have been, at least in the same ballpark monetarily, as Dortmund.

  35. fischy says:

    If you have a contract offer, the Germans are happy to have you.

  36. T-moble says:

    Luis Gill is 18 years old, the same for Agudelo at 19 years. To say they are not developing is stupid. Look at Darlinton Nagbe, is he not developing? I think that false claims like this say’s just howmuch Americans now about developing. Pelosi and all those players you mention have done nothing yet, so please, come with facts, not false claims.

  37. that guy says:

    on his Facebook fan page it looks like he might play for el salvador over the USA.. hopefully he plays for the USA

  38. beachbum says:

    some teams do develop talent in MLS–Galaxy, SKC, Houston, SJ and others, but sure some don’t very well, no doubts

    and I think it’s great he’s signed there. At 16 the biggest hurdle may be emotional/psychological being so far from home no matter the support given, but if that excites him instead of isolates him and makes him homesick, he has a great opportunity

    will be fun to follow his development

  39. Eurosnob says:

    Fischy, I agree with you that DCU need to have multiple academy locations (DC/VA/MD) – perhaps their new owners will invest more into their youth program. I also agree that the money was a big factor in Flores’ decision. But the coaching in MLS (including at their youth academies) has a long way to go before it can catch up to Bundesliga. And the training facilities available to the youngsters at Dortmund are much nicer than anything you see at RFK’s axilliary field.

  40. beachbum says:

    just read Ives comment below re. his age and when he ‘leaves’–not until 18. still the hurdle but with 2 years to prepare if I understand correctly now

  41. DOG says:

    Representando a los guanacos! Arriba sipote!

  42. ted says:

    MLS needs to figure out a way to have developmental teams competing more than the 10 reserve games they currently host.

  43. Togo Man says:

    LMAO…Koroma is not the of the best players in this country. He’s a 24 year old African guy that looks impressive because he’s playing against 17 year olds

  44. Togo Man says:

    Bijen is Bulgarian so he would have had a passport anyway

  45. MJC-DC says:

    The new owners have invested. However, before they expand locales, they are working on expanding to younger and younger age groups.

    Also, wanna half agree with the sentiments expressed above. I will never debate the merits of attending a top European academy over that of the MLS. However, the MLS academies are growing and at a very respectable pace. Just look at some of the talent DC United has produced.

    Let’s give the MLS some credit for their growing youth system, wish the best for Flores, and realize that these things need to be evaluated case by case. Every player is different and finding the right niche to develop into the best they can be therefore varies from player to player. Not a one show fits all type of thing (I get though – its easier to simplyfy things then look at all the complexities).

  46. TomG says:

    I’m a little weary of such a promising youngster signing with such a huge club like BVB. I have heard that it is very easy to get lost in the developmental systems of these huge clubs and, in general, I’d rather see them go to a smaller club that has a reputation for developing young talent (like Hoffenheim). Admittedly, though, I have no conception of what BVB’s developmental system in specific is like. Does anyone have any specific information?

  47. TomG says:

    Oops, not weary – wary. Classic mistake!!!

  48. Joe+G says:

    Except that Bulgaria is in a transitional state for employment across the EU — hence why he can’t just play in the UK. It’s possible that Germany is accepting Bulgarian citizens for employment now, but I haven’t the desire to go look that up.

  49. Lost in Space says:

    An example of BVB’s development system is Boyd. Signed a youth contract with BVB, developed, and signed for a Top team at a lower league and became their starting striker at age 21. And has performed well.
    IF Flores can match or exceed Boyd’s development I’ll be very happy.

  50. Mike r says:


    Next homegrown player who becomes a star will be the first

  51. Mike r says:

    Aguduelo has not done anything except for two games for the US like 2 yrs ago. He is exhibit a on MLS not being able to develop talen. Gil is just ok by MLS standards as it stands

  52. Thatpageguy says:

    I think it is way to early to write off Gil. RSL has an excellent team and Gil started tonight in an important game against the Galaxy.

  53. Thatpageguy says:

    How do you define home grown and star? Dempsey was home grown and is pretty close to a star in the EPL and Donovan is the all time leader in goals for the nats and definitely home grown.

  54. Thatpageguy says:

    This is great news. While it is no guarantee, Dortmund has become one of the top 10 or so teams in Europe now and joining their youth system can only improve his development by exposing him to some of the top youth competition around.