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U.S. Soccer ends development academy; MLS announces youth league

Inter Miami CF Academy, MLS reinforce commitment to players and families in light of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s recent dissolution  

MIAMI, Fla. (20 April 2020) —

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced Wednesday, April 15, 2020 that it is terminating its development academy, a nationwide youth league encompassing several age groups for both boys and girls, effective immediately. The Inter Miami CF Academy and other MLS academies participated in this system.

In a related announcement that was published several minutes after the US Soccer announcement, MLS said it is forming a new youth competition for the league’s academy teams that might also include non-MLS youth teams.

Inter Miami CF sent out the following message concering its academy:

“We plan to return to the field as soon as it is safe to do so and are working closely with Major League Soccer and other teams to redefine our new elite competition format.”  

Major League Soccer’s new competition is billed as an “elite youth competition platform to provide year-round high-level matches for academy teams that previously participated in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.”

“We want to reassure Inter Miami CF Academy players and families that our commitment to the Academy and youth development in South Florida is as strong as ever,” said Inter Miami CF COO & Sporting Director Paul McDonough. “We plan to return to the field as soon as it is safe to do so and are working closely with Major League Soccer and other teams to redefine our new elite competition format.”  

“Major League Soccer is deeply committed to developing world-class players through an elite competitive pathway, from our academy teams through the professional game,” said Todd Durbin, MLS Executive Vice President of Competition & Player Relations. “As we look ahead to the 2026 FIFA World Cup here in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, now more than ever it is incumbent on us to establish a competition that sets a new standard for elite youth play and allows athletes to achieve their full potential.”

The new platform will include league season matches and both regional and national tournaments with international teams. It will also expand coaching education and improve the approach to player identification to ensure top players have the opportunity to participate in a high-level development environment.

“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, two-time World Cup veteran with the U.S and five-time MLS Cup winner. “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.” 

“Participating in high quality, competitive matches on a consistent basis is essential to the development of our young players,” said Fred Lipka, Vice President and Technical Director of MLS Player Development. “Launching this new competition will allow us to consistently challenge players, staffs, and teams, optimizing the potential of every player on the field.”

In addition, MLS is evaluating the potential to provide future competition opportunities for girls.

By Ken Russo

My work in the business of soccer applies skills acquired in law practice with a focus on the sport's commercial, communications and sporting components. Russo Soccer aims to inform, educate and engage in dialogue on news and relevant issues in the game.

Um advogado por formação, concentro meu trabalho nos negócios, comunicações e operações de equipes no futebol mundial. | Abogado con fundación avanzada en comunicaciones, enfocado en los negocios del fútbol y las comunicaciones. | Je suis un avocat experimenté dans les affaires de football.

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