With the demise of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy last month, there’s now two new programs created to step in the breach, each run by the top two men’s pro leagues in the United States.
Last week, USL announced the establishment of the USL Academy League, which will be a U-15/U-19 superteam playing as all the teams in the USL Championship, USL League One and USL League Two, 129 in total. The program, set to launch in about a year, does not appear to involve Sacramento Republic FC.
Instead, the current USL Championship side and future MLS club will be participating in the elite development player platform, announced on Wednesday. The program will include 95 teams for now, including MLS clubs, future MLS clubs like Sac Republic, a handful of USL teams and dozens of independent clubs around the country.
The details are still to be worked out, but during a conference call with reporters Wednesday vice president and technical director of MLS Player Development Fred Lipka said for now the program will continue many of the rules and regulations of the dead Development Academy, such as regarding licensing levels for coaches and prohibiting players from playing high school soccer, with tweaks to be made in the future.
Sacramento Republic were one of the first USL teams to establish their own academy and are starting to see the fruits of their labors, with the club signing Hayden Sargis and Mario Penagos directly from their academy in the offseason to the first team on professional deals.
Details about the new youth competition are forthcoming, Wednesday’s news included the broad strokes of the plan moving forward. We’ll see if this serves youth development as a whole better overall, alongside the new initiative from USL, and if Sac Republic’s academy can continue to mature and become a bigger power in terms of youth development both locally and nationally.
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