CHICAGO (Sept. 6, 2012) - The 2012-13 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season kicks off this weekend with 40 matches on the docket on Saturday and Sunday.
The Development Academy's sixth season features 80 teams playing among seven divisions and three conferences. This season features the first across-the-board implementation of the 10-month season format, which puts a greater emphasis on the Academy philosophy of increased training, while competing in fewer but more meaningful matches.
After receiving overwhelming support from the Development Academy membership, the Academy made the decision to move to a 10-month season that runs from September through June (or July based on postseason play). Following a 10-month season creates a format that is similar to those followed by the elite soccer playing nations around the world as the Development Academy and U.S. Soccer continue their goal of closing the performance gap with the top soccer nations.
During the 10-month season, players can focus on training together three or four times per week and play meaningful games on the weekend nearly year-round. Fewer games and an extended season will allow for the addition of a substantial number of extra training sessions, which are the primary vehicle for player development.
The 10-month season allows for a greater opportunity to institute a style of play and implement a system according to U.S. Soccer's Curriculum as well as build team chemistry. It also gives teams increased opportunities for younger kids in their club to "play up" against older players in both training and matches, thereby accelerating their development.
Conference Previews: In previewing the upcoming season, various Development Academy Technical Advisors have provided their perspective and insight about the teams they regularly watch and evaluate in their respective regions:
- West Conference Preview: TA comments from Rob Becerra
- East Conference Preview: TA comments from Chris Brewer and Juan Carlos Michia
- Central Conference Preview: TA comments from Dave Santesteban and Carson Porter
Interview with Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore: Development Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore took the time recently to sit down and talk about a wide variety of topics heading into the season. Check out the following short videos with Lepore:
- 2012-13 Academy Outlook: Reflecting on Five Seasons & the Future
- 2012-13 Academy Outlook: 10-Month Season
- 2012-13 Academy Outlook: U-13/14 Program Launching in 2013
U-13/14 Program to Launch in 2013: In its continual effort to progress and enhance player development, the Development Academy announced the launch of an Under-13/14 program 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. Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore answered questions from members of the media regarding the expansion of a U-13/14 program in the Development Academy.
Academy by the Numbers: Since the Academy's inception in 2007-08, there have been 3,870 instances when an Academy player was called into a Youth National Team camp, trip or event. This season, the 80 teams will play approximately 2,000 matches. Check out Academy by the Numbers for other interesting tidbits.
Academy Unveils New Logo: The Development Academy has a new logo heading into its sixth season. The two stars represent the two Academy mixed-age groups at the U-15/16 and U-17/18 levels, and the four stripes - two white and two read - represent the four pillars of the Development Academy: Excellence, Pride, Tradition and Education.
Finals Week Transition:
The Academy recently completed its 2011-12 season, with FC Dallas winning the U-17/18 championship and the New York Red Bulls capturing the U-15/16 crown in late July at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. FC Dallas U-17/18 head coach Chris Hayden and Red Bulls U-15/16 head coach Rob Elliott caught up with ussoccer.com to discuss the quick transition.
- Behind the Scenes at 2012 Finals Week: U-17/18 Championship Match
- Behind the Scenes at 2012 Finals Week: U-15/16 Championship Match
Academy Players Make Impact at Nike's 'Chance': The Global Finals of Nike's "The Chance" in Barcelona wrapped up in late August and San Diego Surf midfielder Brian Iloski was named as one of the 16 players to join the competition's final team. The Academy was well represented at The Chance with Bryan Windsor of the Colorado Rapids also heading to the Global Finals among the world's final 100. ( U.S. Produces High-Level Results at 'Chance')
Development Academy Links: