US Development Academy ends, MLS academy league begins

With two quick announcements this afternoon, US Soccer confirmed the flying rumors by killing off the Development Academy, only for Major League Soccer to immediately announce a replacement league.

First, US Soccer sent an open letter to the DA clubs shutting down the league. Will Wilson, US Soccer Secretary General and CEO; Earnie Stewart, US Soccer Sporting Director; and Cindy Parlow Cone, U.S. Soccer President were all signatories to the letter.

In the letter, US Soccer cites the financial strain of Covid-19 as the primary reason for the shutdown but the league was already facing enormous pressure from all sides.

Second, MLS right on the heels of the shut down announced the formation of an MLS Academy league that will include non-MLS teams from the DA.

Major League Soccer is deeply committed to developing world-class players through an elite competitive pathway, from our academy teams through the professional game. As we look ahead to the 2026 FIFA World Cup here in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, now more than ever it is incumbent on us to establish a competition that sets a new standard for elite youth play and allows athletes to achieve their full potential.

Todd Durbin, MLS Executive Vice President of Competition & Player Relations

We are seeing significant contribution to the quality of play in MLS from homegrown talent. As we currently have 2,500 elite players and 250 top youth coaches in our academies, MLS is uniquely positioned to provide a new and enhanced platform that will include high quality coaching, professionalized environments and enhanced player identification. 

Jeff Agoos, MLS Senior Vice President of Competition, Operations, and Medical Administration

Key Items of Note from the MLS Announcement

  1. Year-round competition
  2. MLS club academy teams
  3. Non-MLS academy teams from the DA
  4. MLS is evaluating expanding beyond former DA
  5. Regular season matches
  6. Regional and national tournaments with international teams
  7. MLS is evaluating the potential for a girl league.
  8. Todd Dubrin says U15, U17, U19 leagues.

On a local level, I hope this would include both Solar SC and Dallas Texans. I would also like to see the USL Academy league merged into this new MLS league.

On the girl’s side, while MLS evaluates, I would imagine most teams will immediately jump into the ECNL, which is already starting to happen.

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