U.S. national team programs will be expanded

U.S. Soccer has announced a number of youth-related initiatives as it expands its development program. They included adding under-16 and under-19 national teams with full-time coaches on both the boys and girls sides.

The decision to add two more national teams will give both the men and women teams at every age from under-14 to under-20. It will help fill the gaps that develop because the cycles for the two FIFA World Cups at the youth level target different birth years: even years for the boys as U-17s and odd years for the boys as U-20s and vice versa for the girls.

Another U.S. Soccer player initiative on the boys side will be expand its Development Academy down to the under-12 level in 2016. It is in its second season of an under-14 program in which teams play regionally against Development Academy programs and select programs invited to participate. The Development Academy was founded in 2007 for two age groups: under-17/18 and under-15/16.

The federation will expand its coaching program to launch licensing courses for the certification of youth technical director and pro licenses and will start an online digital coaching center. It wants to make these courses affordable and available to coaches so they can fit them in their schedules. Earlier this year, U.S. Soccer announced it was partnering with Sporting Kansas City on the National Coaching Education Center.

U.S. Soccer is in the process of hiring an outside organization to evaluate its youth national teams and the Development Academy program.

U.S. Soccer will move to standardize the elements of youth soccer from how many players will play to the size of the fields at each age group.
16 comments about "U.S. national team programs will be expanded".
  1. Chance Hall, December 9, 2014 at 8:58 a.m.

    Nice to see some movement for the youth programs. See lots for the boys, but what about the girls program? Any info on ECNL expansion? Development Academies ahead for the girls?

  2. Chance Hall, December 9, 2014 at 9:07 a.m.

    One last question. Where does ODP fit into all this?

  3. Clayton Davis, December 9, 2014 at 9:20 a.m.

    The girls programs are supposed to be announced in January, from what I've read elsewhere.

  4. Ref Evaluator, December 9, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

    Adding a U16 and U19 National team makes logical sense so they can keep working with odd and even years as much as possible for better development and follow up with players. Why dont we see the same logic with the USSDA ages?? Wouldnt it make more sense to add a U15 Division instead of a U12?? For all those that dont follow USSDA closely, the U16 division this year is for players born 99/98 where 85-90% of the entire player pool are 98's. This means that most top 99's in the country are not playing USSDA. And if USSDA is that important for player development, then it only makes sense to start adding the odd years to their divisions. U14 USSDA is same story or even more uneven where over 90% of that player pool is 00' with very few 01's even rostered. By adding a U12 division instead of a U15 the USSDA is now offering USSDA development every 2 years to 90% of top talent for 4 out of 8 years instead of offering continuous USSDA development by adding a U15 division for at least 3 years. This is why we see crazy rosters of 25-35 on USSDA teams. The USSF should also put a limit on those rosters to 20 max since it offers no development purpose to have so many players rostered on 1 team. Just a thought.

  5. Shaun Howe, December 9, 2014 at 9:45 a.m.

    Has there ever been a report to see if selection to academy programs actually hurts overall participation. My feeling is that if us soccer wants to move academy team participation to u12, any club that participates should be fully funded and participants should play for fee; otherwise it's the same old model, but worse, where only the kids with wealthy families will play.

    Other thought, how many 11 and 12 year old kids that are talented simply don't want to make this kind of time commitment and move away from soccer completely because of a program like this that requires full commitment at the exclusion of other activities. Soccer is not the only sport becoming so serious, so young, but my gut feeling is that it is another example of youth sports being professionalized way too early.

  6. Shaun Howe, December 9, 2014 at 9:54 a.m.

    One other thought, when you fund the academy programs us soccer should not allow clubs to pass this cost to other club members. Again doesn't it just hurt overall participation to raise the costs of recreational players to fund those on academy teams?

  7. GA Soccer Forum, December 9, 2014 at 2:23 p.m.

    Clayton Davis?? - where have you heard that about the girls program??

    why wait until 2016 to implement u12, why not start next fall. shouldn't be that hard to implement. would just be a problem for the DA clubs that don't have a youth system

  8. Mark VanHorne, December 9, 2014 at 3:13 p.m.

    Nice to see this. I agree with a lot of the comments so far. But... I have to question why these elite teams keep getting younger. Shouldn't we at least let the kids hit puberty before we start to put them in elite programs? From what I've observed, we are tending to pick kids who stand out (is it size or skill) at u12 and they make the cut through to older age groups. Once kids are turned away, I don't think they re-enter programs. By the time the kids are u14, odp pools for my state program are already reduced to 30 kids. I would be curious to see how many kids new to odp or academy programs enter at older ages like u16 & u17. I think I'd rather do away with younger elite teams to see bigger pools of kids at u14 & u15.

  9. Ref Evaluator, December 9, 2014 at 4:51 p.m.

    Mark, look at USSDA rosters. If USSDA were looking for talent over physicality you would see closer to 1/2 the rosters being a year younger. You dont especially with the top winning teams who get promoted as the better programs locally, regionally and Nationaly. Most top players actaully play Academy every 2 years since they will be at a maturity disadvantage every other year because USSDA is U14, U16 & U18 now. Would have made alot more sense to go with a U15 age group. Then U13 right after that.

  10. Jay Hammond, December 9, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.

    The pay-to-lay funding model of many/most of the US soccer academies makes the option impossible for many, many players because the better you are, the more you must pay. Only kids with wealthy families can afford the $5k+ fees. The socio-economic implications of pay-to-play give an entirely different but equally valid meaning to "elite" soccer.

  11. Mark VanHorne, December 9, 2014 at 7:37 p.m.

    Ref Evaluator - i see what you are saying and agree. I guess my whole frustration stems from the fact that we can't field a team in the Olympics. That is our immediate future. My impression is that at the u17 level we are able to complete on the global stage. But, we aren't competing at u23. U23 is our next World Cup team. Rounding out teams to cover every age group is good. But Why are they planning to develop u12 academy play in 2016? Those kids won't make national team for 14 years. Why not invest more heavily in developing bigger pools of 15-u17 or in the college age players over adding younger teams? Am I missing something? I thought I read something about revamping the college program - making 2 seasons to keep them in the game all year. Seems like a good idea to me. I guess I just don't understand how developing u12 "elite" academies helps us.

  12. James Froehlich, December 9, 2014 at 8:35 p.m.

    Interesting that you didn't mention Klinsmann's part in this. Ives (SBI) managed to cover the WHOLE story. Keep digging guys, your hole is almost deep enough!

  13. Ref Evaluator, December 9, 2014 at 11:39 p.m.

    Mark, and i agree with you. It doesnt make sense unless of course you want to give USSDA clubs more power locally over the younger top talent possible. IF they were truly worried about getting the very best players first they would they would use the new money coming in to give more players free rides. Now we will have basically same scholarships we did before because it will spread into U12. What good does it do to have a U12 USSDA if most of those players will not make U14 USSDA as U13's or or U16 USSDA as U15's??

  14. BJ Genovese, December 10, 2014 at 9:24 a.m.

    Sydney, ODP is a money making scam. Beware.

  15. BJ Genovese, December 10, 2014 at 9:37 a.m.

    They have to beef up the TC program. As it stands they typically invite a player a few times to see if they are national team camp ready. If not they do not get called back... ever. They should be calling them back a year later. Maybe they grew, maybe they got hungry... who knows. Also they should have b team national team camps. This opens up more opportunites for players overseas to make moves because it fulfills the EU national team time requirment to get a Visa.

  16. Ref Evaluator, December 10, 2014 at 6:13 p.m.

    BJ, maybe there is not interest to help more players get a Visa. If there were dont you think Klins would have thought of that already for our youth teams?? Afterall he is very vocal about it.

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