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Old 05-19-2017
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Default The Development Academy -- is it time for more than one division?

The Development Academy -- is it time for more than one division?
by Ahmet Guvener, May 18th, 2017 10:14PM

Since its inception in 2007, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA) had been a great success. Its success is manifested in the USMNT selection (10 DA players in a 32-man roster) along with recent success of the U-17 and U-20 USMNTs. Let us not forget the success of the U-17s and U-20s is confined to the region, and I wish them the best of luck in their World Cup endeavors (in India and South Korea, respectively). The USMNT has still a long way to go.

It is obvious that the DA’s are correct steps in the correct direction. If you look at the contents of the program U.S. Soccer wants to use the DA’s to minimize the abrasive effect of the “pay-to-play” system. It has a scholarship system to at least subsidize the travel costs of the needed families whose kids play in the DA teams.

U.S. Soccer also brought in Double Pass to audit the DAs. The “scans” -- as Double Pass calls them -- were first applied to MLS DAs but now is being applied to non-MLS DAs also. These scans produce recommendations for the DAs to follow for the betterment of their academies. But they are just recommendations, no carrot, no stick from U.S. Soccer. Some MLS clubs through their DAs are trying to circumvent the “pay-to-play” system. In an earlier January article, I have summarized some suggestions on how we can build the missing fifth pillar into our system.

If you look closely at the DA rules, U.S. Soccer is actually subsidizing this structure. In return, it asks for a dedication from the DAs.

U.S. Soccer provides:
-- All Academy event fees;
-- Referee fees (U.S. Soccer assigns referees for all Academy games and subsidizes all associated costs, with the exception of U-12 competitions);
-- Product sponsorship of Nike balls and Powerade stations;
-- Scholarships for need-based players.
(The Scholarship Program is supported by U.S. Soccer to help Academy clubs and players move away from the pay-to-play model of soccer.)

There is no fee to join the DA, but just the registration fee for the players and coaches. This is the first structure in our country in which players register directly with U.S. Soccer by passing the State Youth Associations.

U.S. Soccer has stringent rules for coaching and facilities. In order to abide with these rules, DAs might have to spend considerable amount of time and money.

So far, everything looks good and promising. It is obvious that 73 DA teams are peanuts for a country which is the size of a continent. DAs have to be expanded in numbers and in regions across the USA.

I visited Laredo last week. It is a border town of about 250,000. The town had a PDL club -- Laredo Heat -- which won a title in 2007 and played two national finals (2006 and 2008). The city is full of talented Hispanic kids. The city -- although it has the resources -- for reasons beyond me does not build any grassroots soccer facilities. The families cannot afford the “pay-to-play” system as applied in more affluent communities. Then I realized that there was not a single DA club south of Austin, including San Antonio. South of Austin means mainly Hispanic communities who have soccer culture, but cannot afford “the-pay-to-play” system. Then I did a small research on which states have DAs:

Development Academies by state:
Arizona 1
British Columbia 1
California 13
Colorado 3
Connecticut 2
Washington, D.C. 1
Florida 6
Georgia 2
Illinois 4
Indiana 1
Massachusetts 2
Maryland 2
Michigan 2
Minnesota 2
Missouri 2
North Carolina 4
New Hampshire 1
New Jersey 3
New York 4
Ohio 2
Oregon 1
Pennsylvania 3
Quebec 1
Texas 7
Virginia 1
Washington 2

If you look at the table -- excluding the two Canadian DAs -- the DAs only cover 23 states and D.C. Even if you exclude Alaska and Hawaii, the DA system only covers half of the country. California, Texas and Florida have a total of 26 DAs out of 71. It is obvious that except for MLS DAs, only clubs that have nourished through the “pay-to-play” system can take part in the DA system. With FIFA’s training compensation not applicable in our country, all amateur youth clubs including non-MLS DAs have to rely on “pay-to-play” system to survive. We all know that "pay-to-play” system will discriminate the less affluent sections of the society. We also know that soccer in the world is the sport of lower social echelons. Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Wayne Rooney and others like them were not born to wealthy white-collar parents.

If U.S. Soccer wants to close the gap between USMNT and the leading MNTs and the gap between soccer and the other four sports in the USA, it must expand the DA and find methods of embracing the needy talented kids.

U.S. Soccer can ask both NASL and USL to have DAs in the next three years. Some of the USL teams are already affiliated with MLS. This will expand the geography of the DAs as well as create a better environment for the talented players since professional clubs should have resources other than funds to cover player tuition. Does U.S. Soccer need to sanction a league that does not contribute to its main mission: “To develop players”? The owners just joining will join in being aware of this requirement and the old owners should be given a time to adjust.

There could be two divisions in DAs. I am not talking about pro/rel type of division. Division 2 might have less stringent rules, like quantity and quality of coaches, players etc. They can be promoted to D1 when they flourish to meet the stringent rules of D1. U.S. Soccer can subsidize DAs in D2 who choose not ask for tuition from more than a percentage of their rosters. This subsidy might include partial payment of certified coaches, sharing the travel costs etc. Well, is there a better way for U.S. Soccer to spend the $100 million surplus than for player development?

D2 DAs will expand the DA concept geographically as well as embracing the needy talented kids. UEFA had been supporting and subsidizing smaller nations of the continent so the level of soccer in those countries can be elevated, hence the overall quality of the European soccer.

You might find this idea too “socialistic” in a capitalist country. Unfortunately, in order to catch up with other sports and nations, we might not have too many options. After all, U.S. Soccer is the governing body of soccer for all 50 states and all of the people of this country.
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Old 05-19-2017
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Better to post a link than copy the whole article. https://www.socceramerica.com/articl...-more-tha.html
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You make good points, but here's the issue with DA expansion....if a DA club exists in a "secondary" population market, the only way it will thrive is if current elite level clubs (USYS National League, NPL, etc.) or teams have incentive to feed their best players up to the DA team. And right now, not system is in place for this. Actually, it is really hard for young players to even tryout for a DA team under the current "invite only" structure without the risk of being black-listed. Being in a market that has been trying for the DA option, it is solely this issue that causes US Soccer to look the other way. Too much ego involved, and let's face it...how many Directors of different clubs can really work together for the benefit of their best players and the big picture? And, there has to be a big shift in player mentality away from high school soccer. And, unless it is a MLS club, the costs are still prohibitive for many families at $4000 a year, plus. I also think colleges too cause stress in the system...while yes DA players get looked at as higher level, there continues to be many many USYS or NPL level players picking up Div 1 spots, mostly because the local colleges get to know them and see them play. And I don't see that the scholarship offers are any better for the DA players.
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If a boy is not in DA then what is the best club in Oregon for high school club play in order to get college coach exposure?
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Quote:
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If a boy is not in DA then what is the best club in Oregon for high school club play in order to get college coach exposure?
Judging by the number of boys' championships this year at the HS ages, I'd say Westside.

FC's U17s were excellent this year too.

Of course, that depends on where you live. I'm not sure I'd drive too far for HS club soccer--and if your DS is not the sort of talent that already has college scouts drooling (you'd know if he was), you need to be marketing him to them--there are plenty of scholarships and roster slots for non-star players, but limited recruiting budget. College coaches are interested in players, not clubs.

Beyond that, see what tournaments (especially showcases) a club participates in--college coaches are more likely to scout those than they are to show up at an OYSA league game, unless there is a specific player they want to see.

There is a boys' ECNL starting this fall, but they have no teams in the Pacific Northwest.

Also--depending on where you live and how dedicated you are to getting him a scholarship; you might consider what high school you play for. If the neighborhood HS is a football factory in which the boys' soccer team is a joke, you might look at options--an in-district transfer, an elite athletic private school (like Jesuit), etc. OTOH, many are of the opinion that even the best HS soccer is still a bad joke, and you are better off focusing on club soccer.

Good luck!
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In the US, high school COMPETITION has always brought out the best in athletes. In theory the DAP is a good idea, but playing virtually year-round, driving hours and hours, to play in front of a few parents, is just not the way to go. Leave High School soccer in place and play the Academy system in the off season.

Not to mention that there is very little development going on in the academy. The kids that are making their way up to the national teams were already great when they came into the national team program. Dap coaching is woefully lacking.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
In the US, high school COMPETITION has always brought out the best in athletes. In theory the DAP is a good idea, but playing virtually year-round, driving hours and hours, to play in front of a few parents, is just not the way to go. Leave High School soccer in place and play the Academy system in the off season.

Not to mention that there is very little development going on in the academy. The kids that are making their way up to the national teams were already great when they came into the national team program. Dap coaching is woefully lacking.
They have exceptional facilities now. A rock to build upon with coaches who are adaptable and learning humans. One coached my sons basketball and he was super energetic.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
Judging by the number of boys' championships this year at the HS ages, I'd say Westside.

FC's U17s were excellent this year too.

Of course, that depends on where you live. I'm not sure I'd drive too far for HS club soccer--and if your DS is not the sort of talent that already has college scouts drooling (you'd know if he was), you need to be marketing him to them--there are plenty of scholarships and roster slots for non-star players, but limited recruiting budget. College coaches are interested in players, not clubs.

Beyond that, see what tournaments (especially showcases) a club participates in--college coaches are more likely to scout those than they are to show up at an OYSA league game, unless there is a specific player they want to see.

There is a boys' ECNL starting this fall, but they have no teams in the Pacific Northwest.

Also--depending on where you live and how dedicated you are to getting him a scholarship; you might consider what high school you play for. If the neighborhood HS is a football factory in which the boys' soccer team is a joke, you might look at options--an in-district transfer, an elite athletic private school (like Jesuit), etc. OTOH, many are of the opinion that even the best HS soccer is still a bad joke, and you are better off focusing on club soccer.

Good luck!
This thoughtful reply was appreciated! My son is an 04 and so far we e seen the little DA clubs are all factories for mediocre training and are just pools for kids that didn't make academy. The test in this group will be to see who drops out of DA next year to play in high school unless little da becomes the joke everyone says it is and allows boys to play high school soccer and continue this three day a week only training. Have not gone out to see Westside yet and it does sound like it's worth a look.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
In the US, high school COMPETITION has always brought out the best in athletes. In theory the DAP is a good idea, but playing virtually year-round, driving hours and hours, to play in front of a few parents, is just not the way to go. Leave High School soccer in place and play the Academy system in the off season.

Not to mention that there is very little development going on in the academy. The kids that are making their way up to the national teams were already great when they came into the national team program. Dap coaching is woefully lacking.
Development for professional route.
Do club or DA, go to college, graduate and maybe play professionally.
Do club o DA, go to college, go Generation adidas

Club ball typically means playing HS ball, but not always
There was an article written several years ago where the author complained about college ball messing up the quality of players moving on to the National team.
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Old 05-20-2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
In the US, high school COMPETITION has always brought out the best in athletes. In theory the DAP is a good idea, but playing virtually year-round, driving hours and hours, to play in front of a few parents, is just not the way to go. Leave High School soccer in place and play the Academy system in the off season.

Not to mention that there is very little development going on in the academy. The kids that are making their way up to the national teams were already great when they came into the national team program. Dap coaching is woefully lacking.
I disagree with you on all points. High School soccer is a waste of time for the serious player. The varied talent level on each team causes it to be a mess and relys too heavily on athleticism not technical ability.

You can leave HS soccer but lets be clear it is not for a player that has aspirations of playing at a good Div. I school or better
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