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