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Youth Boys May 05, 2012

San Juan Soccer Club, Orlando City to join Development Academy for 2012-13 season

The San Juan Soccer Club and Orlando City have been selected to join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for the 2012-13 season as both organizations met all of the technical and administrative criteria for admission to the Academy.

The California-based San Juan Soccer Club, which was established in 1978 in the Sacramento Valley area, has helped develop a number of Major League Soccer players over the years. They include current Chicago Fire defender Jalil Anibaba, Philadelphia Union defensive midfielder Amobi Okugo, who played regularly for the U.S. Under-17, U-20 and U-23 Men’s National Teams, and goalkeeper Steve Cronin, who has ties to several MLS organizations and the U.S. U-17 and U-20 National Teams.

“It’s a tremendous honor to provide, what we feel, is the highest and best arena for youth male players,” San Juan Soccer Club coaching director Billy Wiskel said. “It’s something special for the players in our geographical area who are also following the guys at U.S. Soccer and have high expectations in becoming top players.”

Florida-based Orlando City merged with Central Florida’s largest youth soccer organization, the Central Florida Kraze/Krush (CFK), in late February of this year and acquired the Florida Soccer Alliance (FSA) in December of 2011 to create a youth powerhouse at the newly named Orlando City Youth Soccer Club. The youth program is connected to Orlando City’s USL PRO team, which defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders to win the 2011 USL PRO Championship.

“We’re privileged to be joining the Development Academy and worked really hard to establish a solid club from top to bottom,” Orlando City Youth Soccer Club executive director Brian Pederson said. “We feel we can provide a good service to the community and be competitive in the Academy. It has been our goal to develop a total structure from the youth to professional level. It’s taken a lot of hard work, and it’s been a very sincere process of building relationships with the community, which has responded very well.”

Both clubs will participate in the 10-month season in 2012-13. San Juan Soccer Club will join the Northwest Division of the West Conference and Orlando City will play in the Southeast Division of the East Conference.

“U.S. Soccer has obviously put forth a lot of effort in putting together the best model and curriculum for the players to prosper,” Wiskel said of the 10-month season format. “It gives our kids year-round focus on training and spreads out matches so we do not have to cram so much into a small window. Now we have a full period to monitor and develop our players.”

“The Development Academy’s structure for development matches our values and line up with our philosophy to help take the players to the next level,” Pederson said.

In April, the Development Academy announced the additions of the Montreal Impact and Portland Timbers for the 2012-13 season. With San Juan and Orlando City joining, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy field remains at 80 teams as two current clubs are not returning next season.

The Development Academy was created in 2007 to enhance the player development environment for elite youth players in the U.S., with specific focus on increasing the number of training sessions, decreasing the total number of games, while increasing the number of quality matches to maintain the highest level of coaching, refereeing and competition available in an everyday environment.

The Academy program provides clubs with a soccer-centric environment and a platform to systematically improve player identification and development processes. More than half of the Academy matches are attended by National Team scouts, resulting in a comprehensive system to evaluate player, coach and referee talent.

Earlier this year, the Development Academy announced it is moving to a 10-month season starting with the 2012-13 season. After receiving overwhelming support from the Development Academy membership, the 10-month schedule begins in September and runs through June (or July based on postseason play). This creates a format that is similar to those followed by the elite soccer nations around the world as the Development Academy and U.S. Soccer continue their goal of closing the performance gap with the top soccer nations.