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LAFC to launch youth academy program with U-12 team

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The academy is here!

LAFC (used with permission)

Big news! LAFC announced the beginning of their academy system on Monday with a new website. On the website, the club explained the academy will begin with a fully funded Under-12 team with a roster of 26 players, and presumably building up the age ranks over time.

The team will be coached by Joey Cascio, who let the cat out of the bag a couple weeks ago on Twitter announcing his involvement. You can follow him at @SupremacyTF. Cascio's involvement with 3four3, the program that current LA Galaxy academy coach and former Chivas USA academy coach Brian Kleiban was part of, was touted in his bio on the site.

No specific timetable is listed on the site, but the U.S. Soccer Development Academy is expanding to a U-12 level beginning with next season, 2016-17, something the team links out to. The 26 players also lines up with the USSDA regulations of having a 26-player roster that will be split into two gameday rosters.

The full funding aspect is important for the reason that American youth soccer as a whole has been based on a pay-to-play model. While nearly all MLS academies are substantially or fully funded, meaning players pay little to nothing, it's nonetheless a good sign that the new academy is not requiring youth players to pay for their involvement.

What's interesting is that there's a sign-up sheet for players interested in trying out for the club on the new academy website, and it includes language for male and female players. That is in line with hints given by LAFC vice president of soccer operations John Thorrington when the club's crest was revealed that the academy could be expanded to include girls. LAFC would not be the first MLS academy to have a girls program -- Orlando City is one program that features a robust girls academy -- but it would also be a great sign for presumably developing women's soccer and possibly even being a talent pipeline to a professional women's team down the line.

If you're interested, be sure to check out LAFC.academy, the brand-new LAFC academy's website.

Congrats to the club. We'll have more coverage of this development coming soon.

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