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U.S. Soccer Development Academy Moves to 10-Month Season Starting in 2012-13

Posted by NSCAA on Feb 14, 2012 in Membership 3 Comments

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Article distributed via U.S. Soccer

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy has announced it is moving to a 10-month season starting with the 2012-13 season.

After receiving overwhelming support from the Development Academy membership, the Academy is moving to a schedule beginning in the fall of 2012 that runs from September through June (or July based on postseason play). This creates a format that is similar to those followed by the elite soccer playing nations around the world as the Development Academy and U.S. Soccer continue their goal of closing the performance gap with the top soccer nations.

“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,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “The Development Academy 10-month season is the right formula and provides a good balance between training time and playing competitive matches. 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.”

A number of clubs already have switched to the 10-month season and have seen substantial improvement (Western Conference, Texas Division). U.S. Soccer recognizes there might be challenges during the transition process and will work with individual clubs to make this swift transition as easy as possible.

Moving to a 10-month season means players can focus on training together three or four times per week and play meaningful games on the weekend nearly year-round. Fewer games and an extended season will allow for the addition of a substantial number of extra training sessions, which are the primary vehicle for player development.

The 10-month season allows for a greater opportunity to institute a style of play and implement a system according to U.S. Soccer’s Curriculum as well as build team chemistry. It also gives teams increased opportunities for younger kids in their club to “play up” against older players in both training and matches, thereby accelerating their development.

“Going to a 10-month season is an important step in the evolution of elite player development,” said U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna. “The format provides the ideal platform to place an increased emphasis on the value of training on a regular basis, and offers 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 at this stage in their development.

“The addition of a significant number of training sessions per year will enhance the ability of players to develop,” said Reyna. “Along with the support of our membership, this move has been greeted with enthusiasm from leading soccer nations around the world.”

U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007 to improve the everyday environment for the elite youth player. The Development Academy is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an everyday environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players. 

Further information from U.S. Soccer

NSCAA Statement on U.S. Development Academy

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America believes that the individual right of choice is fundamental to all. By extension, the NSCAA does not believe that it is appropriate for any soccer organization to eliminate choice as the price of participation. In particular, this applies to high school-age players, some of whom are being required to forego participation at one level to participate in another. While it may not always be practical, possible or the personal choice of a young athlete to participate in multiple levels, the NSCAA believes that all coaches should respect a player’s right to choose and support their players’ choices pertaining to personal and social development in addition to their development in the sport. Released October 2011.

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    • Matthew Allen
    • 02/15/2012 08:04pm

    Dear U.S Soccer, Excellent job in making a decision that will help cripple the high school programs. A special thanks to the U.S. Soccer academies in telling their membership of high school coaches and other youth programs outside the realm of the academy that they don't mean anything to them. This is a decision made by academies whom consulted one another only in making this decision to make more money for one another. Moving the season up two months nets academies a bit more money here in the long run as you can now continue to tell 10 year olds that if they stay with you, that they can play professionally. Forget the fact that high school soccer allows a student athlete to play with their friends, learn leadership skills, enjoy the fact that they are playing for their town, wear a community jersey and just enjoy playing. High school is a season that lasts at most 2 months and to not even let the student-athletes make that choice is mind blowing. So I guess the philosophy here is that paying to play will make up for the US National teams shortcomings. Rather than extend the season, why not take a look at your problems on the inside. How about teaching kids how to play within a team concept rather than training to win at the youth levels? How about the academies get on the same page on how to teach this game to their players rather than having nine different philosophies? How about exploring a national team and club academy team identity of what style we are going to play? How about having one governing body, rather than US Soccer Federation and the NSCAA? How about reopening your Hall of Fame in Oneonta...what an embarrassment that has become? Until these problems are solved amongst others, two months of extra training isn't going to do much....and this line about 'team chemistry' is a joke. I've seen your practices and see your games, team chemistry is the farthest thing thats being taught. Please tell Claudio that this move has not been greeted with enthusiasm from his OWN nation. We are not England. We are not the Dutch. These are areas that don't have other programs like high schools put into place....and they are organized. We are not. The leading soccer nations around the world are greeting this with enthusiasm?....Are you sure it isn't laughter? Great move. Matthew Allen Armonk, NY

    • Sandro Prosperino
    • 02/16/2012 03:45pm

    Let me start by saying I coach high school boys soccer. I feel extremely privileged to step on the soccer field as an educator first and foremost, who wants what's best for these kids I see everyday in the hallways and in class. I push and encourage my athletes to work for their dreams and when it comes to soccer I want my elite player working towards their goal of playing for the academy. And as someone who loves the sport of soccer I cheer for US Soccer and want them to compete at the world level. However for the life of me I truly do not understand this decision. THIS is supposed to make us a world power in soccer? Taking a kid off one soccer field and putting them on another one will help us win that elusive World Cup?? If we truly want to follow the "model that the best countries in the world use", then we need to eliminate high school SPORTS altogether. Given that will never happen, these additional two months of training will have little impact for US soccer on the world stage and in the process deprive our best soccer players from all the benefits of being an ambassador of their sport, school and community. Finally with regards to the Frequently Asked Questions, the sections which deal with this decision's impact on high school soccer provides little to no answers. In fact, I would've hoped that they were answered truthfully. For example, is US Soccer saying the kids can no longer play high school soccer?: that's exactly what they're saying given most Academy kids want to do both and that choice has been eliminated for them. Won't this decision reduce the quality of high school soccer?: of course it will! You're taking the top, elite player (or several players for some individual teams in some cases) off of the soccer field! Does high school soccer impede player development?: Isn't this the reason US Soccer is doing this? Won't a player miss out on the fun of playing high school soccer?: ABSOLUTELY! Talk to anyone who played high school athletics a year removed or thirty years removed and that's all they still talk about and are their fondest memories from their high school years. Are the coaches in Academy better than the high school?: Well let's see, if US Soccer thought high school coaches were better they wouldn't have made this decision, would they? This decision is very disheartening and I feel bad for all these kids who have had this decision taken from them. Of the thousands of kids who will be playing Academy, how many of them will actually become National Team players? Good luck to all.

    • Brian Duschenchuk
    • 02/18/2012 11:27am

    As a high school varsity coach who loves and truly understands the game of soccer, I find your decision making process a bit disconcerting and insulting. All the other major varsity sports in our high school programs across the U.S have the support and acceptance from coaches on both sides (club and varsity teams). They work together to make sure that each athlete who participates in their respective sport is trained to highest ability level they can achieve with mutual participation from both sides. The club teams also make sure that their schedules do not interfere with the varsity schedule and the varsity programs in turn do the same. For some reason the sport of soccer in the U.S. has had an adversarial relationship with and from both sides the last couple of years. I have always made a point to tell my players that if they had an “optional” practice that was scheduled during or immediately after one my own practices that I would make allowances for them to leave early so that they kept their “spots” on the their club team. My counterparts on the club levels have now made it very clear that they never supported the high school varsity programs to begin with and have over the years made comments to parents demeaning what we varsity coaches did with their children at practices calling it below par in its effectiveness. I quote the word “spots” in the above paragraph because I feel that the parents, and the general public as well, in the U.S. has been misinformed about how the process in this country is run for academy soccer. They state that their intention is to emulate what other soccer countries do to develop football players so that our national team becomes more competitive on the international level. REALLY? Let me use my brother in law as an example of what other countries, such as England, do to develop young players. At the age of 12 my brother in law was scouted by a professional club (Tottenham Hotspurs) and asked to join the club so that he could further develop under their guidance. Did this include my father in law having to pay thousands of dollars to the club EVERY year so that he could join? NO. They had to sign a contract saying that my brother in-law would follow all rules and regulations associated with the club and its policies. Did my father in-law have to pay for additional expenses such as travel fare (coach bus, train, or air travel) to go to tournaments? NO. Did they have to pay for coaches and their expenses included in all these travel tournaments? NO. The club paid for ALL these expenses. In fact, all expenses were paid for and covered by the club. What this included was the club providing housing (either at a club dormitory or club sponsored household), food (all major meals and a counter open to the players at the training facility for snacks selected by the club fitness director and dietician), personal clothing allowances, medical and hospitalization expenses, and sport related gear (i.e. uniforms, cleats, warm up gear, etc.). On top of ALL this the club provided and paid for the education of all the players. THIS is how soccer club academies and programs are run in foreign countries where soccer has deep rooted and established practices. Seems just a LITTLE bit different than what is being done in the U.S. Let’s be real. It is all about the money. Nothing else.