Ever since I started following soccer closely, I’ve been intrigued by the varied opinions on how best to develop young talent. College or team academies? Better coaching. Everyone has their own ideas on the best methods. Fans of MLS, in particular, have been very vocal in their calls for academies like ‘they have in Europe’, as if something similar could be achieved with a snap of the fingers and be up and running in a year or two.
For five days, from Dec 4-8, the Third Annual Development Academy Winter Showcase is in Phoenix, bringing together over 150 club and academy teams from across the country. The event will also include referee and coaching education and assessment as well as provide an opportunity for over 200 college scouts to see some of the best players of the future up close and personal in a competitive atmosphere. Additionally, we’ll get a first look at Wilmer Cabrera’s new U-17 squad, who will compete against U-17 teams from Portugal, Brasil and the Netherlands. The US matches will be broadcast by Fox Soccer Channel.
Now this topic is far too complex to address in a single post, but I thought I’d just put out a few basics when it comes to young player development and what MLS clubs are currently doing. Hopefully the information below will quiet the crowd that still write ignorant statements like ‘MLS teams need to have youth academies’. My ‘cringe’ level from similar statements is maxed out.
Major League Soccer Youth Development
2007 Homegrown Player Initiative
Players registered for at least 24 months in the youth program become eligible to sign a professional contract with that team without entering the MLS SuperDraft.
MLS youth academies have teams that participate in one or more of the following competitions …
MLS Team’s Youth Academy News
Here are some background pieces you may find interesting.
Youth Development in MLS: The Promise and the Problems – Tom Dunmore on 5/01/08
U.S. Development Academy — The Future? – Tom Dunmore on 7/03/08
Will MLS Youth Investment Pay Off? – Mike Woitalla July 2008
MLS youth academy rules need tweaking – Ives Galarcep on 10/03/08
the league’s rules regarding player signings as being too restrictive. Rules currently limit teams to signing one academy graduate to a Generation adidas contract every three years (unless the player graduates from the program sooner), and also prevents teams from signing players younger than 20 to developmental contracts. The first rule means that, theoretically, a team could be prevented from signing a high-level academy graduate because its Generation adidas slot is already occupied.
The Sweeper: MLS Youth Development, on the Right Track? – Tom Dunmore on 9/17/09
To add fuel to the argument, here’s a great pickup from Jason Davis
“The Northwestern soccer team is excited to see the US qualify for the World Cup; unfortunately there’s a shot at MLS in there (accurate, perhaps, but still), with a player saying “There is American soccer, like the MLS, but for the real good stuff, you’ve got to watch European leagues to watch the highest quality soccer.” If MLS can’t get young college players to care about a league they might actually have a shot to play in, it’s time to address the issues.”
Speaking of young players, the Generation Adidas team remains on tour in South Africa and will be on hand for the World Cup draw.
Having nothing to do with the rest of this post…
Did you know????(from MLSNet) – Thanks to Fake Sigi for pointing this out
MLS grants the expansion clubs an additional $1 million in allocation money to either acquire players or pare down the salary cap … the money does not expire until May 15