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New era kicks off with national under-13/14 league
August 29th, 2013 7:19PM
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[DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY] The 2013-14 season of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which for its first six years fielded U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams, will include a U-13/14 division. The new division comprises 88 teams, including 20 new members that will only field teams in that division, adding about 1,000 new players to the program.

The U-13/14 age group focuses strictly on development and does not incorporate standings or a postseason format.

The 2013-14 season begins on the Sept. 7-8. It also includes a winter futsal stage, spring period and various regional and national events. Adding the 20 clubs helps minimize travel costs. ON the other hand, some established programs located in isolated areas aren't participating.

As in the older age groups, clubs this year are required to hold a minimum of four training sessions per week and a minimum of one rest day.

"It's great to have everybody as part of the same system," said New York Red Bulls U-17/18 head coach Paul O'Donnell. "Now, there will be many days where we'll have a tripleheader, where we'll have a chance to see both the younger and older guys. That will be beneficial for us.

”We've always had our pre-Academy, but as a coaching staff sometimes we haven't really seen a lot of the younger guys in games. Now with our schedule syncing up, it will be a lot easier during the course of the year, and we'll continue pushing players up after seeing what they do at the younger age groups."

U-14 boys national team head coach Hugo Perez said, "This U-13/14 group is the right thing to set the foundation. The No. 1 thing is the future of our players and football in our country, and this gives them the best preparation to keep improving. I feel this is one of the biggest steps that we've taken since the start of the Academy, and it is going to benefit the national team program."

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