Report: U.S. Soccer to terminate Development Academies for boys, girls

The United States Soccer Federation is expecting to announce the terminate of its Development Academies on the boys and girls sides, reports The Athletic.

It’s the first major decision to come out of Will Wilson’s nascent tenure as U.S. Soccer chief executive officer, and will make a sincere statement on behalf of relatively new USMNT and USWNT power figures Earnie Stewart, Brian McBride, and Kate Markgraf.

The DA featured close to 200 clubs, with teams competing from the U-12 to U-17/18 level and including all of the current MLS teams.

The 13-year-old league had announced new members for the 2020/21 season just last month, with MLS side Nashville SC and USL side Phoenix Rising among the new entrants.

All 26 current MLS teams, including the league’s three Canadian clubs, participate in the boys’ DA. It’s not clear what will happen to MLS academies now that the DA is no more, though, for a number of years, a segment of MLS teams have pushed to break away from the DA to start their own, MLS-only academy league. The main reason for this was due to their perception that the DA did not offer a strong enough level of competition.

This would be a monumental change for U.S. Soccer, though there is some concern that the federation is making a move to placate Major League Soccer. A source indicated to ProSoccerTalk that MLS teams would not be close to universal support for this change.

It’s impossible to judge the change without knowing the federation’s plans for top-level youth soccer. And the plans may be evolving. The termination of this summer’s youth soccer slate would already open the door to a redraw, and changing the DA would certainly see many clubs cut coaching jobs.

Wilson did serve on the board of directors for North Carolina FC along with USSF board member Steve Malik, who owns the USL side NCFC and NWSL side NC Courage, so there’s youth soccer experience at the DA and ECNL levels amongst others. Cindy Parlow Cone was director of coaching for NCFC Youth before ascending to USSF president.

Hopefully this is part of a wider plan to lower the costs of playing youth soccer in the country, or at least getting top talents from economically-challenged backgrounds easier access to development. Stop laughing. Stop.