D.C. United (2002), Chicago (2003) and the Red Bulls (2003) fielded youth teams years before MLS launched its Youth Development Initiative, which required teams to have youth programs in place in 2007. The Red Bulls and D.C. United teams competed in the Super Y-League while the Chicago Fire Juniors played in the Northern Illinois Soccer League.
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy, an extension of the U.S. national team program, starts this fall with eight-month seasons at the boys U-16 and U-18 levels.
"Major League Soccer supports U.S. Soccer's Development Academy and its approach to player development, which integrates well with MLS's youth development initiatives," said MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis. "The inclusion of the Chicago Fire, D.C. United, and the New York Red Bulls in the Development Academy is just the beginning.
"They will soon be followed by other MLS teams. The success of MLS's Youth Development Initiative and U.S. Soccer's Development Academy will be measured by the number and quality of the players they produce. The emphasis will be not on the number of games played and trophies acquired, but on the development of the individual and the technical skills needed to equip elite players to compete at the very highest levels."