Report: U.S. Soccer drops FC Wisconsin Nationals out of Development Academy
Another youth club is set to be jettisoned from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
Wisconsin Soccer Central reported on Tuesday night that FC Wisconsin Nationals have been removed from the DA for next season, citing market size.
“U.S. Soccer has made the determination that, at this time, the Wisconsin soccer market as a whole is not large enough to consistently support teams at the Development Academy level – especially as the program expands to younger age groups and more teams,” Nationals co-director of coaching Ben Shepherd told WSC’s Eric Anderson.
“The requirements to participate in the Development Academy are very high, and it requires a very large, talented pool of players capable of meeting this standard, and at multiple ages. Based on our discussions, we understand that as a state, Wisconsin will not have a DA program any time in the near future.”
Known as FC Milwaukee until 2013, FC Wisconsin Nationals are a founding member of the DA, which debuted in 2007. The club’s elite girls program operates as FC Wisconsin Eclipse, with its top teams competing in the Elite Clubs National League.
FC Wisconsin Nationals’ U-17/18 side finished the 2014-15 DA season in 12th place in the Central Conference with an 8-14-5 record in league play. The U-15/16s compiled a 10-11-6 record, placing 8th in their conference. The Nationals’ U-13/14 team lost more games than they won, though U.S. Soccer does not officially track standings at that level. (Find more info on the club’s USSDA home page here.)
WSC reports that FC Wisconsin’s overall record in DA play is 129-277-95, with their 2009-10 team enjoying the program’s best campaign with a 15-12-4 mark capped by a deep postseason run.
The Milwaukee metro area contains a population of just over 2 million. Smaller metro areas elsewhere support DA programs, though several – such as Richmond, Virginia, with a regional population of around 1.2 million – have recently seen federation-approved club mergers in the name of increased competitiveness and player pool depth.
Shepherd told WSC that Nationals teams will take part in the National Premier Leagues Midwest Developmental League (operated by US Club Soccer) and “a variety of [other] leagues and competitions” next season.
“We will continue to offer the same high-level training and development in the club as we always have, and will continue to raise the bar in our club and in Wisconsin with respect to long-term athlete development,” he said.