MLS unveils 95-team Elite Youth Development Platform

MLS unveils 95-team Elite Youth Development Platform

MLS League Coverage

MLS unveils 95-team Elite Youth Development Platform

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On Wednesday, MLS rolled out its plan for the future of youth development in the United States and Canada by presenting its Elite Youth Development Platform.

The program is intended to fill the void, and improve upon the structure of U.S. Soccer Federation’s recently-folded development academy. The roll out initially includes a combination of 95 MLS and non-MLS team participants.

All participating teams will align under MLS’ governance of streamlining academy operation key points including year-round competitions, education, and personal growth for players.

Things came together rather quickly for those organizing the plan, as they were reacting in real-time to the rumors of the USDA closing doors in April.

“We heard a lot of rumors and we would say the U.S. Soccer decision wasn’t expected at all by all our clubs and by us in particular. So we needed to realize one or two days before the announcement that it was happening,” MLS director of youth development Fred Lipka said.

“The pressure and uncertainty was very high, and thanks to our owners and our CFOs who replied very quickly, that we are needed to step in. It took two or three weeks to to try to figure out how we wanted to tackle this topic, and we had internally a lot of discussion and we very interestingly, had long meetings with what I call the ‘non-MLS academy’ to try to find the best option for everyone.”

Having 95 teams initially is understandably plenty to manage, Lipka said that it’s only the first phase of what is to come. Currently, there is not a set number of ideal or maximum capacity, and he commented on the likely inclusion of girls academies being on the docket for the future.

“For now, we are not equipped, league-wide speaking, to tackle this project, but we will do our best to be able to be quick to programming for girls,

“We have the ambition to be in the space mid-term, long term for sure,”

Applications for further non-MLS clubs will be available in the forthcoming weeks.

Here’s a closer look at the founding participants by state/province:

Image courtesy of Major League Soccer

UNITED STATES

ARIZONA

Barca Residency Academy

Phoenix Rising FC

RSL Arizona

SC Del Sol

CALIFORNIA

Albion SC

Ballistic United

Breakers

Chula Vista FC

City SC

De Anza Force

L.A. United Futbol Academy

LA Galaxy

LA Surf Soccer Club

Los Angeles Football Club

Murrieta Surf Soccer Club

Nomads

Sacramento Republic

San Jose Earthquakes

Santa Barbara Soccer Club

SF Elite

SF Glens

Silicon Valley SA

Total Futbol Academy

Ventura County Fusion

COLORADO

Colorado Rapids

Real Colorado

CONNECTICUT

Beachside of Connecticut

Oakwood Soccer Club

WASHINGTON D.C.

D.C. United

FLORIDA

Chargers Soccer Club

Florida Rush Soccer Club

IMG Academy

Inter Miami CF

Jacksonville FC

Miami Rush Kendall SC

Orlando City SC

South Florida Football Academy

Tampa Bay United Rowdies

West Florida Flames

Weston FC

GEORGIA

Atlanta United

Lanier Soccer Academy

Southern Soccer Academy

ILLINOIS

Chicago FC United

Chicago Fire FC

Sockers FC Chicago

INDIANA

Indiana Fire Academy

KANSAS

Sporting Kansas City

MASSACHUSETTS

FC Greater Boston Bolts

NEFC

New England Revolution

Valeo Futbol Club

MARYLAND

Baltimore Armour

Bethesda SC

MICHIGAN

Michigan Wolves

VARDAR Soccer Club

MINNESOTA

Minnesota United FC

Shattuck-St. Mary’s

MISSOURI

St. Louis (MLS Expansion)

Saint Louis FC

NORTH CAROLINA

Charlotte (MLS Expansion)

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Seacoast United

NEW JERSEY

Cedar Stars Academy Bergen

Cedar Stars Academy Monmouth

New York Red Bulls

Player Development Academy

TSF Academy

NEW YORK

Blau Weiss Gottschee

Empire United Soccer Academy

FC Westchester

Metropolitan Oval

New York City FC

New York Soccer Club

OHIO

Cincinnati United Premier Soccer Club

Columbus Crew SC

FC Cincinnati

Internationals

OREGON

Portland Timbers

PENNSYLVANIA

FC Delco

PA Classics

Philadelphia Union

RHODE ISLAND

Bayside Futebol Club

TENNESSEE

Nashville SC

TEXAS

Austin FC

FC Dallas

Houston Dynamo

RGV FC Toros Academy

RISE Soccer Club

San Antonio FC

Solar Soccer Club

UTAH

Real Salt Lake

WASHINGTON

Seattle Sounders FC

CANADA

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

ONTARIO

Toronto FC

QUEBEC

Montreal Impact

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