Tuesday’s report is now confirmed: The U.S. Soccer Federation has terminated its Development Academy after 13 years, calling it “a difficult financial decision.”
The federation says the decision is an effect of the coronavirus pandemic, which has “resulted in a financial situation that does not allow for the continuation of the Development Academy program into the future.”
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It affects both the boys and girls sides of the aisle. So what does that mean for the future?
We know you will have a lot of questions about what this means for the future of your club, and we recognize those concerns. While we do not have all the answers on what the future will look like across the youth soccer landscape, as the governing body of the sport in the United States we are committed to doing as much as we can to assist during these extremely challenging times.
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.
It reads like a strictly financial decision in which the federation could not justify keeping staff on the payroll with the DA season canceled for the summer and the Fall restart still in question.
The letter was signed by USSF CEO Will Wilson, sporting director Earnie Stewart, and fed president Cindy Parlow Cone.
Two of three have extensive background in the current youth climate (and Stewart certainly knows plenty).
Parlow Cone was director of coaching for NCFC Youth before ascending to USSF president. Wilson served on the board of directors for North Carolina FC along with USSF board member Steve Malik, who owns the USL side NCFC and NWSL side NC Courage, so there’s youth soccer experience at the DA and ECNL levels amongst others.
An interesting side note is that the rival Elite Clubs National League announced the addition of NCFC Youth before the federation released its statement. The boys side of the ECNL has been building in recent years and the girls side is already considered superior to the DA.
Major League Soccer academies are likely to form their own league, while others will race to join other professional leagues. Surely there will be start-ups as well, and hopefully U.S. Soccer will take steps to lower the sometimes exorbitant costs of putting a young player on a top soccer team.
It is with profound disappointment that U.S. Soccer has made the determination to end the operation of the Development Academy, effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/WdnmrsIqZr
— Development Academy (@ussoccer_da) April 15, 2020