Major League Soccer announced on Wednesday they will be launching a new elite youth competition for MLS academies to compete in following the news earlier in the day that U.S. Soccer is shuttering the Development Academy altogether.
The DA dying is rather controversial in itself, for while many in the youth game were frustrated by the regulations and issues that regularly cropped up, it was also the first attempt to organize youth elite club soccer on such a grand scale nationally.
However, they cited the coronavirus pandemic leading to a financial loss from which they couldn’t come back as the culprit, although I would wager that’s not the only reason it’s happening.
It is with profound disappointment that U.S. Soccer has made the determination to end the operation of the Development Academy, effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/WdnmrsIqZr— Development Academy (@ussoccer_da) April 15, 2020
This effects both the boys and girls DAs. With the Girls’ DA launching just a few years ago and elite clubs defecting en masse to return to the ECNL, the main girls elite youth circuit, including the LAFC Slammers program, the girls’ side of the DA was plagued throughout its short existence. The boys’ DA was around for about a dozen years, and there is no competing youth league with as big of a reach, and now the MLS academies appear set to start their own league.
The release from the league indicates it will include both professional clubs’ academies and also elite non-professional clubs. In a way, it could be MLS effectively relaunching something like the DA, but time will tell on that front.
LAFC’s boys academy will be part of this new competition, and it’s unclear if when it launches LAFC’s academy will be fully built out, as in, have players from the U-12 to the U-19 levels, or if they will continue to only field teams beginning with the inaugural class until those players age out.
For now, the details are scarce and with the DA season canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the new venture will have some time to plan out its existence. In the meantime, however, there’s bound to be some confusion and panic. All that said, if in the end it leads to a more coherent program that is generally better respected than the Development Academy, then this will be seen as a worthy step. Time will tell.
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