MLS launches youth competition as U.S. Soccer Development Academy folds
Major League Soccer is trying to keep a pathway open for promising young players.
The league revealed Wednesday it will launch an elite youth competition. The new program is "intended to provide year-round high-level matches for MLS club academy teams and non-MLS academy teams that previously participated in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy."
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which was launched in 2007, ended operations on Wednesday due to the financial strain caused by "the extraordinary and unanticipated circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic."
Todd Durbin, the executive vice president of competition and player relations in MLS, declared the organization is "deeply committed to developing world-class players" for professional soccer. MLS added that teams involved in the new competition will face both domestic and international sides.
"We are seeing significant contribution to the quality of play in MLS from homegrown talent," said Jeff Agoos, MLS senior vice president of competition, operations, and medical administration. "As we currently have 2,500 elite players and 250 top youth coaches in our academies, MLS is uniquely positioned to provide a new and enhanced platform that will include high-quality coaching, professionalized environments, and enhanced player identification."
The statement also said MLS is evaluating "future potential competition opportunities for girls."