Major League Soccer has announced that 65 former US Soccer Developmental Academy clubs will join its 30 members in MLS’ elite player development platform. Solar SC joins FC Dallas in the platform as the two representatives for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
US Soccer dissolved the USSDA on April 15 leaving youth academies without a top-tier competition. Dallas Texans has since committed its elite teams to the Elite Clubs National League, which will also include secondary teams from both FC Dallas and Solar SC.
While the platform does not have a league competition attached to it at present, the platform does commit to providing elite-level competition.
The development platform will cover several age groups from U-13 to U-19, similar to the USSDA. MLS Vice President of Player Development, Fred Lipka, stated on a conference call with media that he is also targeting a specific U-16 age group where US Soccer grouped U-15/16 and U-18/19.
This does leave the status of FC Dallas’ U-12 academy teams up in the air. U-12 is the first academy group at FC Dallas, fielding three teams.
“There is strong positive momentum and excitement among MLS club academies and elite academy clubs to co-create a platform that will deliver an unparalleled experience for the nation’s top players and clubs,” said Fred Lipka, Vice President and Technical Director of MLS Player Development. “The development of professional and elite players requires a comprehensive and integrated approach, beyond just the competition format, and we are having daily conversations with academy clubs across the country who are committed to building that environment with us.”
The US Soccer Developmental Academy began in 2007 as a way to improve the standards of youth development in the United States. Players would be able to train under qualified coaches with a higher level of competition. Roberto Lopez was on the technical staff at US Soccer in the DA’s infancy and now serves as Academy Director for Clearwater Chargers Soccer Club.
“Within a very short time the results were were evident,” said Lopez of the USSDA’s early success on a conference call. “Now with the elite club development, this new platform coming up I think is going to take us a step further from what the USDA had done. I think it’s needed. From what I’m hearing in all the meetings and what I’m seeing, this will be a historical moment going forward.”
The competition structure and branding will be revealed at a later date. The full list of clubs can be found on MLS’ website.