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Youth Soccer in the USA – The Future On Display


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.

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  1. CoconutMonkey

    December 4, 2009 at 1:16 am

    I’ve just been reading up on the Chicago Fire Academy. It’s not quite the footy boarding schools that exist elsewhere, but it sounds great! Eventually, when the rules change (i.e. they make it easier for clubs to sign more players they already have in their system) teams will have a really have the motivation to develop more talent.

    And it’s good for the fans too, home town heroes on the pitch = more fans. Exhibit A: Steven “I’ve never left Merseyside till I was 18” Gerrard.

    And then there’s high school and college teams! Good god! This may sound naive, but this seems like a massive unpolished gem for player development and discovery.

  2. man99utd

    December 3, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    I’m glad to see all the MLS youth academies. But I have a question. If one is brought into the youth academy of one the MLS clubs are they under the same restrictions as the senior players or would they have freedom of movement? Or would they be allowed to be sold to other clubs from MLS or any other league? Either way waiting for college graduation is too late.

  3. Robert

    December 3, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    we need a youth culture that is similar to little league and pop-warner. Low fees and easy access with a central governing body. MLS clubs can choose to pick up young talent but how can you convince a parent that soccer is going to pay for their future? considering low wage rates, luck on getting selected, avoiding burn-out/injury and receiving a work permit in europe i would say that is a tall order to fulfill.

    • Matthew N

      December 3, 2009 at 6:45 pm

      How can we get a central governing body for youth soccer when we don’t even have one for professional soccer? The youth system here gets a lot of kids involved, but it is more recreational than competitive.

      Personally, I am wondering if the restrictions MLS places on youth talent development makes America a fertile place for private academies to develop youth talent and make money by selling them to clubs. I’m not sure about how economically viable developing youngsters and selling their rights is, but one would think that if it is at all possible, we will start to see these kinds of academies.

  4. Kilmier

    December 3, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    You should forward this to Sean Wheelock; the misinformation he reports on the BBC World Football Phone-in about the youth structure in the USA is criminal.

  5. wahleyed

    December 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I’m sorry if this question is only vaguely related to the post, but I’ve been wondering…

    How does the US’s abilty to generate soccer talent now — and the talent stream itself — compare to, say, 1996? 2000? 2004? I’d like to think we generate more players and more skilled players, but don’t know.

    I’m asking because there’s always a lot of consternation regarding MLS expansion, but no one seems to look at whether the US’s expanded(?) ability to generate talent helps offset the additional demand?

  6. kevin_amold

    December 3, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    I live in Phoenix, and I look forward to trying to catch the Brazil and Holland matches. Hope they allow spectators…..

    • Peter C

      December 3, 2009 at 2:33 pm

      The event is open to the public and free to attend.

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