U.S. Soccer Development Academy expanding to U-13/14 level in fall 2013
By Jimmy LaRoue
U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy will expand to include an Under-13/14 division beginning with the 2013-14 season.
While specifics were not released in U.S. Soccer’s announcement Thursday, the U-14 group will include the 80 clubs currently playing in the Development Academy, with the possibility of adding a few non-academy clubs.
“We started the Development Academy to improve player development on all levels, and adding a competitive structure to the U-13/14 age group is an important next step in this long-term process,” said Development Academy director of scouting Tony Lepore in a U.S. Soccer press release. “The U-13/14 age group is at a very crucial stage in their development. Applying the overall philosophy of the Academy to the U-13/14 age group will allow us to continue to shift the focus of the young elite player to meaningful training and competition.”
The younger age group will follow the current academy model that increases training to four times per week, but cuts down on the number of overall matches. The U-14s will play a regional schedule designed to limit travel.
U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said this is an “important next step” in player development.
“Just as with the players on the national team, these young players need to get increased training and play in the most meaningful games they can,” Klinsmann said in the release. Being in the Academy also gives them more time to practice on their own, which gives them another chance to be creative and have fun. All these elements are critical for players at this age group.”
The 2012-13 academy season enters its sixth season and begins the weekend of Sept. 8-9, with 80 teams playing in seven divisions in the U-16 and U-18 age groups and will be the first in which all teams will play a 10-month season and not be allowed to play high school soccer.
The Development Academy completed its 2011-12 season in late July, with FC Dallas defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3-2 in the U-18 final and the New York Red Bulls topped St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri 1-0 in the U-16 final.