If the US plans to have success in the 2026 World Cup, they are banking on the US Soccer Development Academy to lead the way. This blog isn’t to critique the pros and cons of the system (maybe later) but to better inform soccer fans one of the systems US Soccer has put in place.
I was in Oceanside (north of San Diego) at the So Cal Sports Complex on Tuesday for the US Development Academy Summer Showcase and Playoffs. The Development Academy, or “DA” as it is known in soccer circles, is completing it’s 11th season for boys and the inaugural season for girls.
The venue has 21 fields and they were packed with players, coaches, parents, Major League Soccer and international club scouts, college coaches, player agents, and US National team scouts. I have been a member of the US Soccer scouting network for the past two years but wasn’t scouting today. I am in town to watch Sacramento Republic (my brother Benjamin is the assistant coach) take on Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC in the 5th round of the US Open Cup. More on that later.
Locally, Santa Rosa United is the only member of the US Development Academy in Sonoma County as they field teams in the u12, 13 and 14 age groups. As this event was for u15 and older, the SRU teams weren’t in attendance but there were several people with Sonoma County ties at the event or the Development Academy.
According to the US Soccer website:
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy impacts everyday club environments to develop world-class players.
What is the Development Academy Program?
Following a comprehensive review of elite player development in the United States and around the world, U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007. The Academy Program’s philosophy is based on increased training, less total games, and more meaningful games using international rules of competition.
The Academy has recently expanded programming to include a Girls’ Development Academy that will begin in Fall 2017. The Academy has 197 total clubs, comprised of teams across six age groups in the boys program: U-12, U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16/17, and U-18/19 and four age groups in the girls program: U-14, U-15, U-16/17, and U-18/19.
The Academy Program focuses on positively impacting everyday club environments to assist in maximizing youth player development across the country. The Academy values individual development of elite players over winning trophies and titles. The Academy sets the standard for elite environments for youth soccer clubs nationwide and is a part of U.S. Soccer’s global leadership position in youth soccer that will impact thousands of players.