The U.S. Soccer Development Academy has added five teams -- California Development Academy (Sacramento, Calif.), Houston Dynamo (Houston, Texas), Kansas City Wizards Juniors (Kansas City, Mo.), McLean Youth Soccer (McLean, Va.) and NJSA 04 (Holmdel, N.J.) -- for the 2009-10 season, bringing the number of clubs in the national program to 79.
Kansas City and Houston become the 10th and 11th MLS clubs to participate in the Academy program, joining the Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, FC Dallas, D.C. United, Los Angeles Galaxy, New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls.
Only Real Salt Lake, San Jose and Seattle among U.S.-based MLS clubs don't have Development Academy teams.
"The U.S. Soccer Development Academy creates an environment that is focused on developing the player while providing competitive games that challenge each individual player and team," said Kansas City Wizards technical director Peter Vermes.
The Wizards have an established youth program, having send their U-19 team to last year's McGuire Cup finals.
The Dynamo was the second team to sign a player from its academy program, promoting goalie Tyler Dericafter one season at North Carolina.
"We're excited about joining the program," said Dynamo director of youth development James Clarkson "We feel it's going to provide some outstanding opportunities for our players and accelerate their development toward a professional standard."
NJSA 04. Former MLS players Tab Ramos and Rob Johnson formed NJSA 04. Its Gunners team won the 2009 U.S. Youth Soccer U-14 boys title. "In the past, youth development in this country has been win-oriented and I think this is why it was so important for our club to become part of the Academy, because that has never been our goal," said Ramos, who represented the USA at the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups. "I constantly tell the boys in our academy, our goal is to make each single one of them the best that they can be."
CALIFORNIA DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY.Placer United and San Juan Soccer Club, two top clubs in the Sacramento area, joined forces to form California Development Academy. Beginning in late 2009, the two will merge, with Placer United director of coaching Nathan Williams taking the helm of the Under-15/16 squad, while San Juan Soccer Club director of coaching Billy Wiskel will lead the Under-17/18 Academy team. They will serve as co-directors of coaching for California Development Academy.
MCLEAN YOUTH SOCCER.McLean has more than 17,000 athletes participating in recreational and competitive soccer programs.