U.S. Soccer

U.S. Development Academy switches to 10-month format

U.S. Soccer Federation

U.S. Soccer has taken a giant step in altering the growth and development of the country's elite youth prospects by making a major change to the annual structure of the U.S. Development Academy.

Starting in September, the U.S. Development Academy will operate on a 10-month schedule, mimicking the development systems of nations around the world. The new system creates a situation where players will be training multiple times a week and playing games over an extended, stretched-out period of time as opposed to the current format that had a shorter, more compressed schedule that limited growth and development.

"If we want our players to someday compete against the best in the world, it is critical for their development that they train and play as much as possible and in the right environment," U.S. men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in a federation statement. 

Klinsmann, one of the bigger proponents of restucturing the youth system, is a major backer of the initiative, which has already begun with clubs in the Western Conference and Texas Division before becoming an all-encompassing venture this week.

"This is the model that the best countries around the world use for their programs, and I think it makes perfect sense that we do as well," Klinsmann said.

One of the byproducts of the new system is that high school-age players will have to decide between either playing for their schools or playing in the academy system, as taking part in both won't be an option under the new format.

U.S. Soccer's mission is to attract the elite youth prospects to the development academy system and cultivate them through the federation's technical personnel while having them accelerate their growth at the same rate as their counterparts around the world.

"Going to a 10-month season is an important step in the evolution of elite player development," U.S. Soccer youth technical director Claudio Reyna said. "The format provides the ideal platform to combine an increase in the amount of high value training on a regular basis with the opportunity to play in quality, competitive games throughout an extended season. This schedule puts our elite players in line with kids in their age group internationally and places the appropriate physical demands on them at this stage in their development.

"The addition of as many as 50 extra training sessions per year will greatly enhance the ability of players to work on individual skills and receive advice and instruction from coaches."

For more on U.S. Soccer's explanation of the new format, read on here.


What do you think of this development?

Share your thoughts below.

  • OneMatchAtATime

    Sorry, Hincha Tim is right, at least partially. The so-called curriculum is nowhere to be seen at the AYSO level or even at the competitive level. Anytime you have W/L tables posted, I’d argue that the cause of development is lost. This is a pervasive phenomenon, unfortunately, from U-8 leagues to the Development Academy; if the Academy is truly about development, there would not be any play-offs, championship etc. And spare me the b.c. about play-offs being “American’. Don’t get me wrong, winning is extremely important; if I pick a roster of 18 kids for a match, I absolutely want them to win THAT game, but develop OVER the season. Keeping W/L records, goals-scored statistics, etc. only help lazy college coaches, and put unnecessary pressure on coaches to make the play-offs. After all, all the academy matches are watched by USSF personnel, and there should be no reason to keep a table online.

    And the pressure to win often translates into how the games are played — typically with two defensive midfielders, ultra-cautious, too many back passes… not teaching the kids to take calculated risks at the right points in the game.


  • JustTheFacts

    About $400 a month averaged over the year (incl coaching fees, equipment, travel); I’m paying (non-MLS club in a high-cost metro) so I should know.


  • LastPostForTheDay

    HS and College are important to US soccer, but not for the reasons many people think. They are an integral part of the modern educational experience. From a purely soccer perspective, their value is not to develop players, but they (intended or not) serve an excellent purpose: players who don’t turn pro or who don’t wish to turn pro can still enjoy playing college soccer, likewise players who don’t turn the academy route still get to enjoy HS soccer. The money in college scholarships is still a great draw, which means that there is going to be increased competition at the HS/Academy level, which improves the level of overall play. If college and HS opportunities serve to broaden the base of the pyramid, the quality at the top can only get better.

    So I wish people stop moaning about college soccer not following FIFA rules or HS season being just 3 months or whatever. The reason why HS soccer is not a good development vehicle (unlike the case of American football or basketball) is that there isn’t a pool of great coaches at this level to enable scaling development to all high schools; with A. Football and basketball, those sports are very much part of our culture, so there are decent coaches at virtually every part of the country. Heck, not all 70-odd academies play watchable soccer, so there’s a serious lack of coaching talent in this country.


  • kidssoccergear

    This is great news. Kids in the US need more opportunities to develop their level of play. Kids in the US need go get out and moving. It does not take much to throw a pick up game together all you really need is a few players and an open field. Kids in the US meet all the time to shoot baskets or play touch football, but rarely do you see them doing a pick up soccer game or just play. Kids soccer gear can be bought through the US, but when looking to play the games, there are just not enough kids taking advantage of being able to just get out and moving. I think the more soccer is encouraged through means of the league and the federation the more kids will come together. Other countries all over the world play soccer as though it is just part of their lives, and in the US kids do not play unless it is a schedule event. I think by developing more schedule events and coaches of those schedule events encouraging kids to get out and get pick up games will also help in bring soccer to the US. I have two daughters that would play soccer everyday of the week, anytime of the day, but their friends and teammates just do not have that desire to do so. I am not sure why that is but if you have the love for the game then you should be out there putting picks together. My girls have had to join the international groups a colleges and university to get pick up games or just to get touches on the ball. It is amazing to me how these international players welcome them in to play, but they are hindered because most of the time it is guys playing not girls so they do struggle with that gender aspect. Overall with this new 10 month session, it will get US kids more involved and more on the thought process of playing soccer on a regular bases. I would love to see more kids playing in the park, in their yards, or in the streets, but until that happens the 10 month session will be a great way for US to enter the world of soccer.


  • kidssoccergear

    I believe there are many talented kids that fall through the cracks because they do not have the mean to get notice, but as far as playing for their high school does not mean they will fall through the cracks. I do not think high school is that great of an opportunity for kids to be noticed anyways because some high schools do not have a well developed program themselves. I believe you have to play at a high level of soccer to be seen anyways and that takes money. It is that simple.


  • H2Oman

    Well Alex… you said it yourself… is not a step up something to be pleased about over the same ol’ same ol’ anemic approach we have seen for…. ever? MLS development league and academies, US Academy, integrated philosophy throughout system, longer season… all good things. Notice I said pleased with trends, not satisfied with where we are. There is a huge distinction. Unfortunately, there are no magic pills, no button to push to immediately put the US at the top level. Profound change is incremental, a process. First you need the desire to change, then the will, then the resources devoted and the structure has to be put in place. Then… lots of hard work and patience to stay the course. Until recently, I didn’t see many signs of any of the above in a sustained manner. I think we are just now to the point where we are putting the structure in place, so really, the work has only begun, but at least now I can have hope. Placing too much emphasis on winning. I agree… until a few years ago, this was rarely addressed. You now hear it from the mouths of everyone in the game right on down to AYSO coaches, so… although not yet entirely fixed, the fact that it has been identified is a very good sign. Course we have a long way to go… bottom line, I am glad we seem to be taking the first steps. OUT!


  • Cmillls

    You missed my point. I am saying if you don’t have great touch by u16, extra academy practices is not th e answer.


  • Think Outside the Box

    You are in correct. The academy program cannot pay for travel, food, and or training because this would violate the athlete’s NCAA eligibility.


  • Think Outside the Box

    Dempsy and McBride both played high school soccer and are considedered two of the best U.S. players to play in the Prem. Because of the money involved the number of players who would even consider the Academy program will decrease. That is not the solution. The United States has turned a poor man’s sport into a rich man’s sport. The claims that this is what Europe does is not accurate. In Europe the Academies are free. All that matters is the player’s ability. We are a different culture and need to figure out a system that fits our culture.


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