U.S. Soccer youth development changes announced and they’re promising

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No, promotion/relegation isn’t one of them but U.S. Soccer has introduced a number of changes to the existing structure to better ensure alignment with European clubs.  youth system and structure.

Calling the moves an “unprecedented commitment to develpment of World Class players and coaches” U.S. Soccer added the following initiatives: the creation of a pro-license for coaches, adding an under-12 age group for youth academies, increasing scholarship funding for academies and adding under-16 and under-19 National Team programs for men and women (with full-time head coaches).

“This is a huge step forward in our efforts to improve the development process for player and coaches across the country,” U.S. Soccer technical director and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in a statement. “As we have done with the senior National Team, our goal is to make sure we are able to provide the best possible environment and opportunity for players to reach their highest level.”

Assessment and identification, training and development and competition are the three areas of focus for the changes.

“It’s fundamental to the growth of the sport in our country that we examine and improve the different areas of development for our players and coaches,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “We are better situated than ever with the resources to do that. With ambitious programming for our National Teams, new investments in education and technology, and a continued effort to align our technical practices with the best in the world, we are positioning ourselves to take another important step forward.”

U.S. Soccer claims that they “will undertake an independent assessment” of their youth national team programs, development academy, and clubs. Who will complete that audit has yet to be named although Belgian company Double Pass has been linked in the past.

U.S. Soccer will upgrade training and development by introducing a new F-license for youth technical directors and a pro-license while a “Digital Coaching Center” will also be available for coaches to access coaching resources and a “national coaching education center” will be built and hosted by Sporting Kansas City.

The expansion to a U-12 age group will see scholarship funding increase and small-sided games and field become standardized for youth players. U.S. Soccer are also working with the NCAA to potentially increase the length of the college soccer season to include a spring season while U.S. Soccer will bulster youth play by adding the U-16 and U-19 squads to both the men’s and women’s programs.

No date has been announced for the launch of these initiatives but certainly some interesting and creative stuff from Klinsmann and his people.