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Timbers, Impact extend MLS presence in U.S. Soccer Development Academy

U.S. Soccer Federation

Two of the newest MLS franchises are extending the league's presence in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that the Portland Timbers and Montreal Impact have been approved to have teams entered into the Development Academy, giving MLS 17 teams in the 80-team academy system.

Both the Timbers and Impact passed technical and administrative evaluations and will field U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams effective this upcoming season, according to a U.S. Soccer release. Their inclusions leave only the Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC as MLS teams without representation in the Development Academy, which starting in September moves to a 10-month schedule in an effort to accelerate and cultivate the development of the elite young players in North America.

The Timbers will join the Northwest Division in the West Conference, where MLS sides Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes also compete in addition to other clubs. The Impact, meanwhile, will compete in the new-look Northeast Division in the East Conference along with the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution academy sides.

“The Portland Timbers have had great success in their inaugural season in MLS and look forward to continued success this season, as well. The addition of the Academy program will provide a sound platform for elite youth player development in the area,” said U.S. Soccer Development Academy technical advisor Hugo Perez, who also oversees the Northwest Division. “The Portland area has consistently developed a strong player pool for Youth National Team programs. We hope the addition of the Portland Timbers Academy Program will help continue to improve upon the history of player development.”

Added Impact sporting director Nick de Santis: "It's important as a club to play at the highest level in North America. A lot of young players from this league developed into very good players. We want to put our players in a professional environment, and they need to be challenged at a young age to progress. It will also be a measuring tool to see where we are in North America."


What do you think of this development? Intrigued to see what results the new system is able to generate?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Nooo

    I WISH! lol

    I don’t know how many residency programs there around the country but god I would settle for 1 for every MLS team? lol Hell I’d settle for 1 in every US City of MLS teams the 16 of which 15 have academies and Philly has an arrangement with 2 clubs if I’m not mistaken…

    Look Najar could become big and DC who spent money developing him, not USSF or MLS who actually will get a cut lol stands to make good amount if he can make the jump to Europe with a good to great team…

    We gotta hope for more players like him, Luis Gil, Fagundez in New England etc etc..

    And I agree Viva Estados Unidos!

  2. to Edwin in LA… I appreciate the explanation. So the desired return on US Soccer’s investment is to (hopefully) produce talented US-eligble kids who rise through the competitive ranks of this structure, even though it also benefits kids living in the US who are not US eligible and could play for other countries. I had thought the Development Academy program was intended to be a nation-wide replication of the Bradenton program with many “Bradentons” operating all across the US… Gracias y Viva Estados Unidos!

  3. You are way off buddy….

    Reyna will give guidelines on what clubs should focus on and the training regimens that coaches need to learn and implement or at least be capable of using to coach in order to get their coaching licenses but Reyna’s direct effect on youth development is more about the National Youth teams and the Mens Senior National Soccer team.

    Meaning his direct effect is on Richie Williams U-17 National Team he replaced Wilmer Cabrera. That’s the team that had that Winter Invitational victory over Brazil among others in Florida last year…

    Also Tab Ramos U-20, and I guess in 4 years when the 2016 Rio Olympic games roll around you can also throw the U-23 team for the Olympics in there as well.

    The Academy for lack of a better way to explain it a more detail understanding is super duper official and to some glorified youth league system. You play teams in your region and conference and even more specific or area/region division to minimize travel and operating costs with some travel to play certain teams and maintain that experience of being on the road together like pros and develop comradery and also to play more challenging teams that may be farther from your location. Then the better teams from each region play each other and 1 few teams are crown from each age level as one big champion from all the teams around the world…

    Think of it as a system similar to the Basketball NCAA tournament, you have a season, regional conferences some big ones even with divisions within the conference like Big 12 or 10…. then the winners of those and the best teams battle it out to see who’s the champ..then some of the better players from each team may be invited to national showcase to get to the best players who may be invited into National Youth team camps or the Bradenton Academy or simply identify them for up coming games of the youth teams….

  4. Huh??? I don’t get the ABC comment? lol

    I’m not exactly sure how the Academy system works but I highly doubt USSF subsidizes much of anything considering teams have to demonstrate financial stability and I believe they have to fork money out….

    Teams set up their own academies regardless, this is just a system in which they are organized and regarded as the highest form of Youth Clubs within the Youth system in the country…the teams can sell to kids wanting to play that if they succeed the exposure from scouts can lead up to a showcase appearance and eventually and invitation to join the Bradenton Academy or maybe the U-20s…

    We NEED better players both foreign AND domestic end of story….

  5. THANK YOU GOD….people seem to have a complete misunderstanding of how the US Development Academy works….just because a team is part of it DOES NOT mean that those players practice and play in US national team gear….

    The closest thing to that is that there is patch on their clubs unique and INDIVIDUAL uniform that shows their membership to the US Development Academy. Those are clubs who are in the business of training youth players to become possible pros and unfortunately to be ready for the College game and earn a scholarship since that is how the system works in MLS so far….

    Professional teams develop youth players, we have a few Central American players in the Galaxy and I could care less about it, from a club and even league perspective you WANT THAT….not as many clubs see youth products as much as Barcelona but look at what they did…they have a ton of home grown players form La Mesia and Messi is one of them, they could care less he’s Argentine. I’m sure Wenger doesn’t care when he signs a kid to groom into a great pro…you think he cared that Cesc was Spanish? Yes Arsenal didn’t finish developing him but they still worked with him a few years in his teenage youth…

    You want players like Najar, and this one kid who I think is part of El Salvador’s youth team who is from the Portland area as far as club and high school….
    It will only make the league better and have our players facing better competition

  6. Yeah you have to have a bit of a bigger picture here….it can’t just be about producing players in the youth academy system…eventually MLS needs to get to the point where every young prospect with enough talent to garner some attention from Europe or Mexico or South America would want to come to MLS because of the exposure and the better quality of life and who knows maybe one day much better pay…

    Teams all over the world sign youth players after they are scouted in youth tournaments or U-15, U-17, U-20 and the Olympics…. it doesn’t matter where they are from.

    This whole “oh we have to do it our way on only our good ol’ boys from the US of A will do” crap has got to stop. It’s bad as it is that we are a nation with a ton of suburban college kids, lots of them spoiled brats who have very little technique but because they are “athletes” or “hard workers” see Bornstein, Wynne, Chad Marshall and a bunch of others are always considered great players….

    They pyramid is upside down, and we need to not just flip over but have the resources to do so. We have to be able to offer a 15 or 16 year old kid a tangible incentive (100k+ to start) in the form of a contract to sign with pro teams and strive to earn a full senior team long term contract…

    Let the teams pay for their schooling once they turn 18 or what not and out of high school, hell if they can I say set up some very small private schools to keep the kids together and facilitate them going to practice before and after school, like in residency programs around the globe….

    You think Barcelona cared that Messi was an Argentine? Or that Jeffren wasn’t born in Spain? They could care less….all they saw was TALENT!

  7. to Annelid… I understand the importance of high quality competition to continue to improve… But if this is a US SOCCER created program, why would they have only a “very small amount of USSF money”????? Isn’t this supposed to be the foundation of Claudio Reyna’s US player development strategy? Please clarify if you have knowledge of this. Thanks.

  8. USSDA takes a very small amount of USSF money. And frankly, the presence of excellent foreign nationals in the USSDA-affiliated teams is just fine (provided we’re catching a lot of US-nationals in with them): you have to play against excellent players to become as good as you can.

  9. Thank you for the information. I was wondering where the three HGs came from if the Union didn’t have their own Development Academy.

  10. why would the union go to all of the trouble to fund a full time and exclusive USSDA team(s) when they can just pawn all of the work and expense off onto two other USSDA teams (FC Delco and PDA) but still reap all of the rewards of getting to sign those players as HGs. it is the ultimate FYOU to the other MLS teams … it is saying “ha ha ha … you guys have to fork over a ton of cash and coaching resources to pick two teams of 25 kids from which you can develop and sign HGs while we let these other clubs do the work, foot the bill and we can sign any of hundreds of kids from these various teams as HG players … suckas!”

  11. to Super Chivo… Thanks for that clarification re: Andy Najar’s situation. I have no problem with the individual club teams investing their own resources in developing foreign nationals for the benefit of their teams, their fans and MLS. My issue is with the USSF subsidizing players who will never be eligible to wear the US crest. People who donate money to the USSF are not doing it to develop players who may ultimately play against us.

    Viva Estados Unidos! Sorry ABC!

  12. I understand your argument, except that it was the dollars of DC United that developed Andy Najar, not the USSF. I would bet that DC is going to make a little money selling Andy up to another club someday, and in the meantime he is making the MLS better and drawing in fans; a win, win, win, in my book. My problem with the MLS is all of the players who are not and will never be citizens nor eligible for the national team but have green cards and therefore don’t need an international roster spot. If a kid is already here and has the potential to be a pro then why not see where it goes?

  13. to Joe+G… I certainly undertand the issue with our dual nationals. It is always a roll of the dice, but also worth the investment as long as they have the potential to represent the Unites States. My understanding was that Andy Najar was not a dual national and a Honduran national only. I believe we should protect and maximize our finite player development resources by focusing only on those players who could wear the US jersey. As an aside, I thought Andy Najar was the best player on the Honduran U-23s. Also, thank God for Terrance Boyd, Tim Chandler, Fabian Johnson and some of the other dual national up-and-comers such as Alfredo Morales and Andrew Wooten.

  14. Because he’s not a US citizen and therefore can’t play for the US? Najar wanted to play for the US, but our citizenship laws suck and he would have had to wait like five more years, and that’s if he stayed in the country and didn’t leave MLS for Europe in the meantime.

  15. Toronto isn’t in it because they have an excellent academy program.

    Philadelphia isn’t in it because they are cheap.

  16. One of the issues we will always have will revolve around dual citizens. There were players on Canada, Mexico and El Salvador in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers who were eligible to play for us and we had at least half our roster eligible to play for someone else. Even if someone fully intends to play for the USMNT, they may not be quite good enough, may not be patient enough to get a chance or may get the nudge from mom & dad to play elsewhere.

  17. Thank you for the clarification. And YES, I have no problem whatsoever in taking the position that American dollars, donations, facilities and training resources should be devoted to American players toward their advancement and potiential to represent the United States in international competition. I believe that was the original intent of the Nike Pro-40 program in support of US Soccer’s Project 2010. I don’t think we need to use our limited resources to subsidize and develop players who will eventually play AGAINST the US.

  18. It’s about local residency, not citizenship. He was living in DC and joined the local team. You’ll see more kids on foreign NT/YNT as products of local DA teams.

  19. Najar spent time in DCU’s academy (he’s a home-grown player for DCU), which is part of the US Soccer Development Academy. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s a Honduran Citizen, and eligible to play for them (and El Salvador through one of his parents), but not the US, of which he is not (yet, and unfortunately) a citizen.
    He wouldn’t have gotten an invite to Bradenton for the US U-17 residency program (I don’t think) because he’s not US elligible, but there’s no restriction on US-only players in the Dev. Academy.

  20. Does this affect Montreal’s Academy team in the Canadian Soccer League?
    I mean, Chicago Fire has a team in the Super-20 League, PDL, and Development Academy league.

  21. Any idea how much Toronto spends a year on their academy. I know Red Bull spends about 500k and DC United spends about 400k. I heard Toronto’s is a residency program.

  22. Toronto isn’t in it because it already has a multi-tier academy program in Toronto with a new $17.5 m home, and the senior two teams already play in competitive local tiers — in fact the seniors boys play against adults in the semi-pro CSL (where Milos Kocic played last year).

  23. If it’s going to consist of Canadian clubs it should probably be renamed the North American Developmental Academy. I agree with you. You don’t see other countries allowing academies in their academy systems.

  24. At least the U.S. U-17’s seem to look like a really good pool of players. They got off to a hot start today in The Mondial Minimes tournament in France beating UAE 4-0. Next up Portugal. Mexico’s U-17 team got crushed by France’s U-17’s 3-1. The U.S. is a top of their group. Hopefully they can add this tournament to their growing list of accomplishments for this very talented group of U-17’s.


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