US Soccer disbands academy licensing and league structure

April 16 – U.S. Soccer has announced it is closing down the federation’s development academy structure saying the decision was due to the financial impact of the coronavirus. The shutdown will have immediate effect.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make but the extraordinary and unanticipated circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a financial situation that does not allow for the continuation of the Development Academy program into the future,” wrote U.S. Soccer in a statement.

The academy structure was first launched in 2007 to help develop elite youth players. Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent and DeAndre Yedlin were among the players who passed through the academy, even though a majority of recent US internationals enjoyed their youth career at MLS franchises.

The academy system in the last few years has grown with the licensing of various youth clubs with teams playing in five age groups in their own regional league structures. However, it was a sprawling and often divisive structure with clubs competing for both players and parent funding. Quite often academy licensed

MLS clubs with academies who were part of the USSF leagues will now compete in their own league, along with a number of non-MLS clubs who were part of the old USSF structure.

In its statement, U.S. Soccer said: In the immediate future, we will continue to engage all stakeholders across the youth soccer landscape. At the same time, we will also look to increase our efforts on coaching education as well as being engaged and active in the identification and scouting of youth players across the country for all our National Teams.”

While the closure of the academy structure has been precipitated by the coronavirus crisis, it was not completely unexpected with a number of clubs having already reported that they were aware of discussions within the USSF over disbanding the academy licensing and leagues.

A number of clubs had already taken pre-emptive steps by moving over to US Club Soccer’s ECNL (Elite Club National Leagues).

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1591035419labto1591035419ofdlr1591035419owedi1591035419sni@o1591035419fni1591035419