Beyond the big questions regarding the stadium location and general identity of Los Angeles Football Club, one of the hottest topics surrounding LAFC is their youth and reserve infrastructure. They have not been announced as entering any academy teams in the USSDA for the 2015-16 season, and while there has been considerable public lobbying (including by yours truly) to incorporate the lame duck Chivas USA Academy into the LAFC set-up, it has not appeared likely that would happen.
At Wednesday's LAFC roundtable, team president and co-owner Tom Penn briefly discussed the academy and also USL plans, as he was directly asked about those topics from LAFC podcast's Will Strickland at the very end of the event.
As was the case with the rest of the topics at the roundtable, there weren't any major news items broken, but Penn did give some indications about the club's plans on the teams below the first team.
When Strickland asked if LAFC would field youth and USL teams before the senior team began play, Penn responded:
"I don't know. Maybe. Same things: figure out where the senior team's going to be, what the senior team's going to be. And that's the other thing: There's a lot of questions about our academy, and why didn't we take over the Chivas academy, we're losing this opportunity. But the whole identity of where you put your academy, how much you invest in your academy, how does it correlate with the senior team - all that sort of waterfalls down once you know what the senior team is. And then the USL team slots right in the middle of that, and it's related. We've had a lot of thought and work on the academy concept and the whole youth outreach and community development and all that.
"On the USL level franchise, again, it's like putting ‘C' before ‘B' in the alphabet, you just gotta take care of ‘A' first and then you go to ‘B' and ‘C.' So to your direct question, I don't know. Maybe. Maybe a USL team starts playing first at this other location...maybe it starts after, maybe it's simultaneous. We just don't know."
Penn subsequently clarified that the club's plans regarding USL were much more up in the air, and said the academy side would begin before the first team began play in MLS.
"For sure, our youth engagement and activity will start before the senior team starts playing. For sure. I just don't know how soon. For sure youth activity, our academy."
And for those of us, like me, who want to see LAFC start an academy right now, here's what Penn said:
"I'm much more interested in doing it 100 percent right than 100 percent fast. Because we could rush in and just sort of take over this one thing or do this, and then have to un-do it because it's better suited over here."
Again, nothing appears to be happening until the stadium deal is secured and announced. It does appear the team could create their own USL team, but Penn would not directly confirm that, or confirm a possible affiliation agreement with an existing team, perhaps local USL side Orange County Blues.
And it really doesn't seem like Chivas USA's Academy will become LAFC's Academy. There's still a chance there could be a changeover that doesn't officially bring in CUSA's Academy, but effectively does just that. But based on Penn's comments, even that seems pretty unlikely.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!