CHICAGO (Aug. 30, 2012) – The U.S. Soccer Development Academy, in its continual effort to progress and enhance player development, has announced the launch of an Under-13/14 division starting in the Fall of 2013.
The U-13/14 division will consist of current Academy clubs and will possibly add a limited amount of clubs from outside the current Academy structure from some markets throughout the U.S. Details regarding the start of the application process, the format of the schedule and other logistics will be announced at a later date.
“We started the Development Academy to improve player development on all levels, and adding a competitive structure to the U-13/14 age group is an important next step in this long-term process,” said Development Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore. “The U-13/14 age group is at a very crucial stage in their development. Applying the overall philosophy of the Academy to the U-13/14 age group will allow us to continue to shift the focus of the young elite player to meaningful training and competition.”
The clubs selected for the U-13/14 age group will follow a model that increases training to four times a week, with fewer but meaningful matches, and the schedule structure will be regionalized to limit the amount of travel.
“I am very excited to see this important next step in the process of developing young players in this country,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Just as with the players on the National Team, these young players need to get increased training and play in the most meaningful games they can. Being in the Academy also gives them more time to practice on their own, which gives them another chance to be creative and have fun. All these elements are critical for players at this age group.”
As the Development Academy works toward next year’s launch of the U-13/14 program, the Academy is currently gearing up for its 2012-13 season, which kicks off during the weekend of Sept. 8-9. The Academy enters its sixth season with 80 teams among three conferences and seven divisions at the U-15/16 and U-17/18 levels. This campaign marks the first across-the-board implementation of the 10-month season, which provides elite players with an opportunity to train and compete in an environment consistent with international standards of player development.
The Development Academy completed its 2011-12 season in late July, with Academy Finals Week taking place in Houston and the championship matches held at the newly built BBVA Compass Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. In the U-17/18 title game, FC Dallas defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3-2 in front of a strong home-state fan base on July 22, with Jose de la Tejera scoring back-to-back goals in the second half to lead FC Dallas to its first Academy title. In the U-15/16 championship, the New York Red Bulls topped St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri 1-0 on July 23 as New York completed an unbeaten run that started in mid-May en route to its first crown. It marked the first time two MLS-affiliated teams won the championship at both age levels.