Looking Back at Project 2010: Part III


In our ongoing review of US Soccer’s Project 2010 as we enter the World Cup year, today we look at the Teaching Academy structure. This is part III in our series. Links to Parts I and II can be found at the bottom of this article.


“This presents a teaching academy model which attempts to compensate for the fact that in certain areas of the country, players may not have a proper training environment. This dynamic model, developed for local, district, state, regional and national training centers, should provide better opportunities for young players to train in a high-quality competitive environment. These academies could be owned and managed by U.S. Soccer, or by private institutions such as schools or clubs who for economic reasons or economy of scale may choose to run such training centers. Of course, these academies must conform to standards set by U.S.

Soccer. In the long term, state associations and professional clubs will take a more active role in the academy process. Eventually, it should be a requirement that all professional clubs must have as part of their ongoing operations, specific programs (similar to the academy model) that are dedicated to the process of educating professional players.

• The Soccer Academy concept includes the establishment of centrally located national training centers, dedicated to developing the most gifted (top one percent) players.

• Another goal of the Academies is to decentralize the process of identifying and developing players by investing more time and resources in developing the most talented youth players.

• Develop a system that will either substitute or complement the existing systems which by themselves are insufficient structures in education and development of professional players and clubs.

• Serve as the operational model for player development and at the same time help create and develop other structures throughout the country.

• Maximize the potential of America’s best players in the country by creating an entire systematic process of correct education for the soccer profession.

• Create an aggressive and dynamic concept which introduces the model of local training centers that provide quality and intensive training. In order to achieve specific and quality training, it is not necessary for the younger age groups to leave their home environment.

• We need an “Ambassador Coach.” This is a talented coach who travels from community to community to work with the gifted players. The coach uses a personal vehicle and brings the necessary equipment. Matching talented coaches and gifted player sparks development.

• Serve as a model to organize and operate the formation and design of the Spider Web Club under the umbrella structure.

• The ultimate goal of the program, is to organize, teach and discipline players with an intensive effort toward improving individual and tactical skills.”

Phase “A”-Year One:

1 National Team Center

4 Regional Training Centers

Phase “B”-Year Four:

2 National Team Centers

16 Regional Training Centers

District Training Centers

Local Training Centers

Phase “C”-Year Eight:

2 National Training Centers

16 Regional Training Centers

16 State Training Centers

District Training Centers

Local Training Centers

Phase “D”-Year Sixteen:

2 National Training Centers

55 State Training Centers

District Training Centers

Local Training Centers


The above detailed goals have had mixed results. US Soccer along with IMG established the national academy in Bradenton, Florida. The Academy in Bradenton has had mixed results and seems to have hit a stage of diminishing returns. The number of high caliber players that graduated from Bradenton was higher in the 1999-2004 period than it has been since.

One of the most striking failures of project 2010 however, has been the failure for localized and regional institutions to develop. Recommendations are made throughout the document that the USSF act more like a Confederation and that state soccer associations begin acting as if they are national federations.

The report states the US is too vast to be governed the way European nations are by Federations. With more registered players than any other country, the US has challenges of maintaining a structure unlike any other nation.

Perhaps it is because the localized training centers and scouting networks are not as evolved as perhaps they should be, we enter 2010 with as many question marks about kids falling through the cracks as we did in 1999.

The USSF must be given credit for having the vision to commission this report and then take steps to implement its recommendations. But as I get deeper and deeper into looking at our structure, I realize the difficulty in a nation such as this to overturn long standing institutions and ideas and implement new ones.

The USSF is filled with people who want what’s best for the game but have a hard time navigating through the political mine field that is Federation politics. The USSF Development Academy program that involves local club teams from selected areas is a good step in the right direction but still not enough. USL’s Super Y League has served its purpose and continues to be important, but it too needs to be restructured.

Considering the large number of registered players in the United States, twenty top flights teams which are not distributed evenly by region are quite clearly not enough. This may explain why the impetus for a more aggressive and marketable second flight has come about. Integration of the top flight and second flight must eventually occur for the US to reach its potential in this sport.

Part IV of the series will run next week.

Part I

Part II

13 thoughts on “Looking Back at Project 2010: Part III”

  1. For me sometime in the near future MLS needs to make a real attempt at owning the second division of US soccer so that they can market it as well and not see any need to compete against it, as well as more easily integrate the players who progress well in the lower league moving up to the top.

    1. I don’t know about a monopoly, but if they did it right, I think MLS expanding to the second division (and reorganizing the1st Division as well) would be good for the sport. That’s a big IF, though. And quite far off.

      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I like the J League model.

  2. I think things are fine how they are MLS isnt going to get better until the right talent comes and they are going to more than likely develop here at home in Academy’s, High schools, Colleges, and amateur tournaments.

  3. The problem with US soccer is easy to identify. It’s the coaching establishment. If players “fall through the cracks” , who exactly is failing to identify them? It’s the coaches, high school,ODP. select teams, and colleges. With few exceptions (thank goodness there are exceptions) the coaching fraternity is wedded to the big , athletic player. Why?? Because, at the youth and lower levels of soccer you can usually be competitive using only the best athletes. Forget about how ugly it may look or how self defeating it ultimately is for improving the level of US play and players. It helps you keep your job!!
    The NCAA Soccer Championship today was a perfect example. Virginia coached by George Gelnovatch defeated a far superior team, Akron, coached by Caleb Porter on penalty kicks. The Akron team displayed superior passing , trapping, and dribbling skills throughout the match, while Virginia displayed only the ability to commit crude fouls and blast the ball all over the field.
    Now what was the impact of this on the development of young players? Well, Caleb Porter was being mentioned as a possibility to move up to the MLS ranks. What about Gelnovatch—he has ensured himself a continuing place at a major soccer institution where he will continue to select and develop the same type of poorly skilled, athletic players and pass them on to MLS and the MNT.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I am a big ACC fan, having had two chidren who graduated from UNC and Clemson. I had never seen Akron but to me they made the ACC elite look like hackers.

  4. I agree short passes. Access to quality coaches at the youth level is a major detriment to the development of quality players. If you do not live near an established club (and have the money to pay) the average size kid who has the athletic ability will not get the chance to develop into a top player. Most parents will not commit their child to two hours of “windshield time” to go to practice.

  5. IHSSOCCERFAN — the only qualification on a whole-hearted agreement with your comment is that not all “established clubs” are created equal. That is where blogs like this (Kartik–are you listening?) come in. The soccer blogoshere needs to be more discriminating in their support of teams, clubs and schools. We are hopefully past the time when anything “soccer” is applauded. We need to be less accepting of coaches, columnists, and teams that are not contributing to the improvement of US soccer. We need more constructive criticism in the soccer media, television and print. (The penchant on the part of TV announcers to say nothing critical of the play or the players does no one any favors)

  6. Post script:———- Has anyone seen anythingg in print that comments on the crude play of Virginia in winning the NCAA championship????

  7. I still want you to coach my kids team Shortpasses,
    but I have to disagree with you a little.

    I don’t think it is the announcers jobs to be critical, I would rather they be a little rah-rah. It would offset the rediculous Euro-lovers “MLS sucks” commentary. As the games popularity rises, the talent will too. Talent follows the money….and right now there isn’t enough to complete with Europe.
    It really is US Soccer that needs to solve the fouling to win strategy. FIFA is not going to, so….be better than FIFA…not too hard.

  8. Just a note to all, six players from Akron were part of the Crew Academy. Except is from Columbus Dispatch.

    -Seven Crew Academy products will participate in this weekend’s NCAA College Cup. Midfielder Andy Lubahn plays for Wake Forest, which will play Virginia tonight in a semifinal. Undefeated Akron plays North Carolina tonight. Defender Chad Barson, midfielders Ben Speas, Brandon Silva and Eric Stevenson and forwards Matt Thompson and Thomas Schmitt all play for the Zips.

  9. I m robert amoussou, I m a Midfielder in a small club in nigeria,I need a second division football club to play for.pls help melook for one.I m 17yrs by birth from benin republic.my number is +2347061125262.my mail is robert.amoussou@yahoo.fr

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