U.S. Soccer confirms Development Academy’s move to 10-month season; no more high school play
U.S. Soccer officially announced on Friday that the U.S. Soccer Development Academy is moving to a 10-month season starting with the 2012-13 season, confirming Thursday’s media reports and bringing the elite youth league into direct conflict with high school soccer for the first time.
After receiving overwhelming support from the Development Academy membership, the Academy is moving to a schedule beginning in the fall of 2012 that runs from September through June (or July based on postseason play). This creates a format that is similar to those followed by the elite soccer playing 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.
“If we want our players to someday compete against the best in the world, it is critical for their development that they train and play as much as possible and in the right environment,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann in a press release.
“The Development Academy 10-month season is the right formula and provides a good balance between training time and playing competitive matches. This is the model that the best countries around the world use for their programs, and I think it makes perfect sense that we do as well.”
A number of clubs already have switched to the 10-month season and have seen substantial improvement (Western Conference, Texas Division). U.S. Soccer recognizes there might be challenges during the transition process and will work with individual clubs to make this swift transition as easy as possible.
Moving to a 10-month season means players can focus on training together three or four times per week and play meaningful games on the weekend nearly year-round. Fewer games and an extended season will allow for the addition of a substantial number of extra training sessions, which are the primary vehicle for player development.
The 10-month season allows for a greater opportunity to institute a style of play and implement a system according to U.S. Soccer’s Curriculum as well as build team chemistry. It also gives teams increased opportunities for younger kids in their club to “play up” against older players in both training and matches, thereby accelerating their development.
“Going to a 10-month season is an important step in the evolution of elite player development,” said U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna. “The format provides the ideal platform to place an increased emphasis on the value of training on a regular basis, and offers the opportunity to play in quality, competitive games throughout an extended season. This schedule puts our elite players in line with kids in their age group internationally, and places the appropriate physical demands at this stage in their development.
“The addition of a significant number of training sessions per year will enhance the ability of players to develop,” said Reyna. “Along with the support of our membership, this move has been greeted with enthusiasm from leading soccer nations around the world.”
U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007 to improve the everyday environment for the elite youth player. The Development Academy is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an everyday environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players.