Los Angeles Football Club are building an organization from the ground up, and with that process comes the possibility of expanding the club far beyond simply an MLS team and a Development Academy program.
Some who were eagle-eyed when LAFC announced its academy in February noticed the gender-inclusive language used in the sign-up form on the website, hinting that a girls academy could be in the works in addition to the boys program.
When asked about possible plans for LAFC to expand into girls soccer, the club's executive vice president of soccer operations, John Thorrington, told The Goat Parade recently a girls program is an "important piece of our future plans, and we are therefore exploring all options to see what makes best sense for LAFC."
If LAFC did establish a girls academy, they would not be the first MLS team. Several teams have involvement in girls soccer to varying extents, from Orlando City's full ECNL program, which appears to be the gold standard among current MLS clubs, to FC Dallas' ECNL program, an elite program for girls by Columbus Crew SC, and youth programs for pre-academy ages that include girls in Colorado and Philadelphia. Real Salt Lake look poised to expand to a girls program once their proposed training and academy facility in Utah is built, so suffice it to say girls soccer is not a formality for MLS teams but is something that a handful of teams have varying degrees of commitment to.
With Orlando City recently branching into NWSL, with the expansion Orlando Pride to begin play this season in the league, they appear to be the example for all MLS teams that are interested in building a club that includes men's and women's pro soccer as well as boys and girls academy programs. The murmurs surrounding LAFC possibly jumping into women's and girls' soccer may or may not follow the same robust path that Orlando City is treading -- time will tell on that front.
But the initial signs are there that LAFC may really make their talk of building an inclusive club a reality, and by making a commitment to soccer for men and women alike, they may begin to build a legacy that stretches beyond MLS alone.
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