The Inter Miami CF Academy “La Academia”

The Academy of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami will have a focus on South Florida’s youth players.

The most important pillar of any club around the world…an academy for their local talent. El pilar más importante de cualquier club del mundo…sus fuerzas básicas.

Jurgen Mainka, Chief Business Officer, Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami

With the approval of the City of Fort Lauderdale and the legal challenges cleared, Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami plans to place its Academy, along with the club’s Training Complex and USL Stadium at the Lockhart Stadium site are moving ahead.

Once of the most important elements for the club is the establishment of a development academy of its own. Here is a look at the Inter Miami CF Academy in more detail.

Mission Statement of the Inter Miami CF Academy:

“The Inter Miami CF Academy will provide the most talented players in South Florida with real, attainable pathways to reach the highest levels of the sport. Through the funding of seven teams across six age groups from 12 through 19, Inter Miami CF vows to recruit, retain and develop its local talent to create a strong pipeline of prospects for the First Team under the U.S. Soccer Development Academy umbrella.”

“La Academia del Inter Miami CF ofrecerá a los jugadores más talentosos del Sur de la Florida opciones reales y alcanzables para llegar a los niveles más altos de este deporte. Con la financiación de siete equipos con seis grupos de edad distintos, de 12 a 19 años, el Inter Miami CF se compromete a reclutar, retener y desarrollar su talento local para crear una cartera sólida de futuros jugadores para el Primer Equipo bajo el marco de la Academia de Desarrollo de Fútbol de los Estados Unidos.”

Source: Inter Miami CF website

Background: Acceptance in U.S. Soccer Development Academy

On March 7, 2019, U.S. Soccer announced that Inter Miami CF had been accepted into the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for the 2019-20 season, which begins in August 2019.

New clubs and new age-group teams were selected for admission to the U.S. Development Academy following a thorough review process by U.S. Soccer based on a number of factors, including:

  • Academy leadership and quality of coaching staff
  • Desire to embrace Development Academy philosophy and core values
  • Infrastructure and investment of resources
  • Player production history, player pool depth and geographic location
  • Market analysis

The club will field U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16/U-17 and U-18/U-19 teams in their first academy season. They will begin preseason training in August, and the season kicks off in September, 2019.

“The most important pillar of our legacy is our youth academy, where future players will have the opportunity to train alongside the professionals and aspire to one day represent our community in front of their hometown crowd.

Paul McDonough, Sporting Director, Inter Miami CF

Coaching and Technical Staff

Former MLS All-Star, U-13 champion manager Javier Morales is part of the Inter youth academy staff.

They’ve hired several academy coaches, including former Real Salt Lake star Javier Morales, but Miami is yet to announce its Academy Director or coaching candidates.

The lineup thus far is impressive, and one of the club’s coaching staff, Jason Kreis, recently named to coach the United States under 23 side.

Here is who has been brought on-board the staff of Inter and its Academy thus far:

The Selection Process

“We began scouting last August,” McDonough said. “We’ve spoken with local clubs, schools, coaches and everyone in the soccer community to find the most talented players across every zip code in our market.” The staff scouted more than 6,000 players in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties and also the Naples and Fort Myers areas for the region’s top talent.

Inter Miami then invited selected youth players to try out for the first academy class during the winter 2019, over a year in advance of the start of its first season. They invited players from established clubs as well as players from underrepresented neighbourhoods who might otherwise not have such an opportunity at being discovered.

Five hundred and fifty players in total were invited to try out for the Academy. Training sessions were held during the month of April, 2019 at the Central Broward Regional Sports Complex. Players are being judged on technical skill, athleticism, field vision and attitude.

On April 2, 2019, the first of the 550 players who were invited began tryouts for the Academy. The Club’s soccer operations department held six tryout sessions across two days the week of April 1st, with further sessions held throughout the month. It is expected that the Academy will have around 120 players to begin with when the Academy begins its first season. The Academy will eventually have both boys and girls participating across the various teams.

“We’re making some progress,” Inter Miami Sporting Director Paul McDonough told in mid April. “We’re starting to really add academy staff and some support staff around that, which is important. The academy is really the next big thing on our agenda, our next big milestone.”

Cooperation With Existing Development Academies.

McDonough’s experience includes his role in shaping Atlanta United FC. over the course of two and a half years. Atlanta got their academy program off the ground extremely quickly. Notably, the Five Stripes signed a pair of Homegrown Players – Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin – months before the club’s first MLS match. Three more Homegrowns were signed less than three months after the club’s March 2017 debut.

Atlanta was able to scale up so quickly in large part due to its decision to absorb Georgia United, an established Atlanta-area youth club that qualified for the Development Academy U-16 national semifinals in July 2015. Atlanta United took technical control of Georgia United’s U-16 and U-18 teams in the 2015-16 season, then fully integrated them under the Atlanta United brand for the 2016-17 academy season. Georgia United players started earning time toward status as a Homegrown MLS player starting with the 2015-16 season, a development that allowed both Carleton and Goslin to accrue the required 12 months in an MLS academy for both to sign Homegrown contracts before Atlanta United kicked off in MLS.

For more on Homegrown Player Rules, read here:

Miami has decided against partnering with a local youth club to kick start their nascent academy. Instead of absorbing or working exclusively with one of the four boys’ development academy (“DA”) clubs in South Florida, Miami’s approach involves communicating with all of them.

“I’ve actually met with all of them and we talked about it and the right thing to do was not to partner with any one, and that was received really well by the clubs,” McDonough said. “They’ve been really, really supportive with that approach. … They knew what we were doing. They know it’s inevitable. MLS has been coming in here, the academies have been coming in and taking kids out for so many years, they would just prefer, they know they’re going to lose players, they just want to keep them in South Florida.”

Focus is on Local Talent.

The Inter Miami CF Academy plans to focus entirely on local players. That’s a departure from the trend of many MLS teams recruiting players to their academies from out of their Homegrown territory.

“The one thing that’s really, really important for us is we make our academy 100 percent about South Florida kids.”

The Sporting Director underscored the importance of keeping the Academy focused on local players “The one thing that’s really, really important for us is we make our academy 100 percent about South Florida kids,” said McDonough. “We don’t want to go outside and import kids from other parts of the country. If you’re going to build a successful club, I think you have to start with the grassroots… and we have to build out our youth academy locally.”

Jason Kreis also spoke about the focus on South Florida, saying “We believe that the talent pool in South Florida is rich. The [Academy] should give these kids the ability to compete in a very competitive league, a very professional environment, and do that for free.”

Lockhart Stadium Location Provides Access Across The Region.

Inter Miami’s youth territory extends from Homestead, in Southern Miami-Dade County, all the way north of West Palm Beach, in Palm Beach County. With that in mind, “we figured that if we wanted to capture the best players for our developmental system, we thought that this site gave us the best opportunity,” according to McDonough. Lockhart is centrally located in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach tri-county area, roughly 35 miles north of the permanent home of Inter Miami which will be located at Miami Freedom Park.

Getting to and from the Academy will be difficult at certain times of the day, especially for players coming from Miami or suburbs further away like Kendall. Per team officials, Inter Miami is committed to assisting with the costs and burden of getting players to and from Fort Lauderdale for training. Details will be provided once they become more clear.

A temporary site will be announced where academy teams will train and host games before the Fort Lauderdale facility opens in February 2020.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer