Well, as I speculated on Monday that STLFC Academy would be joining the MLS Academy, that prediction is about to come true according to this article in TheAthletic.com. Writer Sam Stejskal indicates that formal announcement will come later today and it will include the 26 current MLS teams as well as the four incoming expansion teams. MLS4theLou Joining MLS Academy Program
UPDATE: MLS Press Release Top 95 Youth Clubs Join MLS Elite Player Development Platform
A question worth asking would be whether STLFC Academy, which is also identified separately as a member of the league, will be ‘that team’ come 2022. Why would MLS4theLou want to build a new youth organization given the alternative of folding the local group in can probably be answered by the accountants since taking on a youth group of 50+ players (see Schilly’s estimate) versus a full club with over 200 teams might lead to a purchase of the rights to the Academy organization. Then Brad Davis would have a choice to make and if you look at the recent interview in the Post-Dispatch, I think you can discern the choice he would make.
Sources: New details on the new MLS-led youth league, which is set to be announced this afternoon. All 26 MLS teams, the 4 incoming expansion teams, 5 USL teams and 60 non-pro clubs, all of which are listed in the piece, are slated to participate. https://t.co/keyfy0vUXx
— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) May 13, 2020
From the lede for the story (otherwise behind their paywall)
Major League Soccer is set to announce its new youth league this afternoon, multiple sources tell The Athletic.
All 30 MLS clubs — the 26 current and four incoming expansion teams — will participate in the league, which will also include five USL Championship teams and 60 non-professional clubs, for a first season total of 95 teams.
The sources said that the new league will include Under-13, -14, -15, -17 and -19 age groups. MLS teams will be required to field U-15 and U-17 squads, but it will be up to individual clubs if they want to field teams in the other four age groups. The league is also considering an Under-16 division, though there are no current plans for it to be included in the first season.
Exact details of the competition structure are being worked out, but the sources expect that the platform will be divided into separate MLS and non-MLS divisions. Multiple sources said that it’s likely that MLS academies…
I’ll update this report as more details are released. Congratulations to STLFC Academy and the new Director, Brad Davis.
MLS Press Release
Major League Soccer today announced that 65 former U.S. Soccer Development Academy clubs will join the League’s existing club academies to create a partnership that will transform youth player development in the United States and Canada.
CLICK HERE for a full list of Founding Member clubs
The 65 youth clubs will join the MLS academies as Founding Members of MLS’ elite player development platform. The new platform, which will include more than 8,000 players throughout the U.S. and Canada, will consist of elite year-round competition, as well as player identification initiatives, coaching education opportunities, and additional programming to create the premier player development environment.
The platform will operate with a groundbreaking governance structure that promotes collaboration, innovation and input across all areas of the soccer landscape. Within the structure, technical working groups will provide recommendations on the platform’s strategic objectives and standards, outline competition guidelines and formats, as well as introduce platform programming. By unifying the elite player development landscape and creating a collaborative structure, the new platform will accelerate and enhance player development in North America.
With a focus on maximizing each player’s potential, the new development platform will not only provide high-level, year-round competition for players, but will provide important programming, education and innovation in the key areas of player development:
“There is strong positive momentum and excitement among MLS club academies and elite academy clubs to co-create a platform that will deliver an unparalleled experience for the nation’s top players and clubs,” said Fred Lipka, Vice President and Technical Director of MLS Player Development. “The development of professional and elite players requires a comprehensive and integrated approach, beyond just the competition format, and we are having daily conversations with academy clubs across the country who are committed to building that environment with us.”
Since launching the MLS club academy initiative in 2007, Major League Soccer has demonstrated unprecedented commitment to the development of top level professional players in the United States and Canada, including an investment of more than $70 million last season alone. This investment has produced more than 250 homegrown players that have become professional and national team players, including recent standout players such as Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas, Solar Soccer Club), James Sands (New York City FC academy, New York Soccer Club) and Matt Real (Philadelphia Union, FC Delco).
The elite academy clubs that are Founding Members of the new platform have also been leaders in the development of players for college, MLS and the national teams. Combined, MLS Academies and the elite academies joining the platform have produced more than 90% of the U.S. Youth National Team players in the last year, making the new platform the top destination for the best young players in North America.
With the launch of this new platform, MLS and the elite academy clubs will not only continue to develop world class players but will create a world class soccer development culture that supports and inspires elite players throughout the countries.
“The Sockers FC Chicago organization is excited about this great opportunity to collaborate with MLS, in the development of this new competition platform,” said David Richardson, Sockers FC Chicago Technical Director. “In our soccer communities we feel that our work as leaders of Elite Academies alongside the leaders of MLS Academies will help to shape a world-class soccer culture in our country. This will be a benefit to all that play, coach, referee, and support our game from the grassroots to the professional level.”
“Major League Soccer’s inclusive approach to the greater soccer market is the most exciting aspect of this movement,” said Ryan Miller, Portland Timbers Academy Director. “This new competition will continue to provide a platform for the top player development clubs in the country to get the most meaningful games. Elite player development requires the highest level of competition and this platform will provide that.”
Applications for additional clubs to join will be available in the coming weeks. More information about the competition structure as well as the platform’s official brand will be announced at a later date.
MLS4theLou Joining MLS Academy Program