MLS launches ‘elite competition’ in wake of U.S. Soccer academy cuts

Sporting KC

Major League Soccer has announced a new league for boys academies, hours after U.S. Soccer announced its decision to eliminate its Development Academies for boys and girls due to financial worries brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pivotally, MLS is latching onto an opportunity by inviting both MLS Academies and non-MLS Academies affected by the USSF’s decision.

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“The competition will include league season matches and both regional and national tournaments with international teams,” reads a press release. “It will also expand coaching education and improve the approach to player identification to ensure top players have the opportunity to participate in a high-level development environment.”

MLS Academies further taking the lead in youth soccer would be a new and interesting step as the clubs are challenged by a growing Elite Clubs National League.

Soccer Wars, Pt. III: The Youth Movement.

Youth soccer has become big, big business and MLS has proved adept at increasing the value of its franchises. Putting this under its wing is a savvy, opportunistic decision.

The league could opt to focus on the U-16 and U-18 divisions in order to maximize what it can do with the youth player assets.

It will also be interesting to see if MLS plans to include members leagues in its “Homegrown” pool, and a source tells me that the new competition is news to at least some MLS academies. Clearly early days.