I: Origin, Mission, Selection Process, Focus
ORIGIN: Acceptance in U.S. Soccer Development Academy
David Beckham said that one of the most important elements for the club would be the establishment of a development academy of its own. Here is a look at the Inter Miami CF Academy in more detail.
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-12, 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.
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
Although the groundwork began several months prior, the Academy officially launched in 2019, over a year prior to Inter’s first season in MLS. The Academy consists of teams in age groups U-12, U-13, U-14, U-15, U-17 and U-19. The Academy will train and compete at the club’s Fort Lauderdale Training Centre upon completion, alongside the MLS and USL teams.
The first-ever official Academy matches in South Florida were played at Broward College South Campus in Pembroke Pines, Florida, on September 7, 2019, in front of the team’s three official supporters groups. The games were against corresponding teams from the Jacksonville Armada Youth Academy.
Oficialmente abierta en el 2019, varios meses antes de su temporada inagural de la MLS, la Academia consiste de los siguientes equipos: SUB-12, SUB-13, SUB-14, SUB-15, SUB-17 y SUB-19. La Academia entrenará y jugará sus partidos locales en el Centro Deportivo Fort Lauderdale ( al finalizarse su construcción) igual que el equipo MLS y USL.
Los primeros partidos oficiales de la Academia se jugaron el 7 de Septiembre del 2019, bajo un ambiente espectacular por parte de las hinchas de Inter Miami, contra los equipos de la academia de Jacksonville Armada.
Coaching and Technical Staff
A complete team of academy coaches has been hired, including former Real Salt Lake star Javier Morales.
The lineup is impressive, and Academy Director Jason Kreis was also hired to coach the United States men’s under 23 side.
A complete look at the technical staff of the academy can be found in Part II of this piece: Technical Staff / Cuerpo Técnico
The Selection Process
“We began scouting last August (2018),” McDonough said in an interview. “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 of 2019, over a year in advance of the start of its first season. Five hundred and fifty players in total received invitations, including players from established clubs as well as players from under-represented neighbourhoods who might otherwise not have such an opportunity at being discovered.
On April 2, 2019, the first of the 550 players who were invited began tryouts for the Academy, which took place at the Central Broward Regional Sports Complex. 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. Players were judged on technical skill, athleticism, field vision and attitude. The expectation at that time was that the Academy would have around 120 players for its first season. The Academy will eventually have both boys and girls teams participating across the various age groups.
“We’re making some progress,” Inter Miami Sporting Director Paul McDonough told MLSsoccer.com 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.”
McDonough’s Experience With Atlanta United FC
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 and become members of the senior team before Atlanta United kicked off in MLS.
More on Homegrown Player Rules here: Who Is A Homegrown-Player?
Cooperation With Existing Development Academies
Miami took a different path from Atlanta United. 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 Academy of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami will have a focus on South Florida’s youth players.
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 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.”
“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.”Jason Kreis, Academy Director
Academy Location Is Also Important
With the approval of the City of Fort Lauderdale and the legal challenges cleared, Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami is building the future home of the Academy, along with the club’s Training Complex and its USL Stadium at the Lockhart Stadium site in the northern end of Fort Lauderdale.
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, around 35 miles north of the permanent home of Inter Miami which will be located at Miami Freedom Park (formerly Melreese Country Club.)
Getting to and from the Academy will be difficult (borderline impossible) at certain times of the day, especially for players coming from Miami or anywhere in the suburbs like Kendall or South Miami. Team officials have told the press that the club is committed to assisting with the costs and burden of getting players to and from Fort Lauderdale for training, although no details have been published. For the 2019-2020 season, the Inter Miami Academy is training and playing its home games at Broward College, South Campus in Pembroke Pines.
The team projects that the new Academy home, as well as the new Lockhart Stadium will be ready in time for March 2020 and the start of the club’s first MLS season. The Academy teams have home games scheduled against Orlando City SC’s academy on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at the new Lockhart facilities.
Inter Miami CF Academy Welcomes Its First Players
The first ever members of the Inter Miami Academy received a special welcome from Club owner David Beckham, who sent them a personal note of congratulations. Two of the invitees were surprised even further. Miles Perkovich, 13, and Fernando Sanchez, 13, were invited to the Club offices where they received a surprise video call from Beckham alongside Sporting Director Paul McDonough. As expected, their reactions were priceless…
David Beckham made a special visit to his academy along with Managing Owner Jorge Mas. Here is a video the team released in June 2019 about that special visit.
Part II: 2019-20 Academy Teams and Technical Staff
Parte II: Equipos y Cuerpo Técnico 2019-20