Commentary

Galaxy provides school in quest to produce an American Messi

By Mike Woitalla

"This could change how we develop players in this country. And the hope is a Lionel Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo will come from the United States."

-- Los Angeles Galaxy president Chris Klein on the Galaxy providing high school studies with its youth program.

The quote comes from Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reporting on the Los Angeles Galaxy’s full-time school for its academy players: “The team spends about $4 million annually on player development, including the school and academy programs, about $2 million less than it will pay veteran midfielder Steven Gerrard this season.”

The Galaxy launched its school program last year. FC Dallas started partnering with the Frisco Independent School District in 2010, enabling FC Dallas Academy players outside the district to attend school in Frisco in the afternoon so they could train in the morning, the optimal time for practice in Texas weather but also coordinating the Academy players’ schedule with the first team.

The Philadelphia Union opened a high school -- the YSC Academy in an office complex across the street from its youth development training center -- in 2013. Its second class of seniors is graduating this month. As is the case with FC Dallas, some of the players commute from their homes in the area while a few board with host families.

Real Salt Lake, which already has a residency academy program in Arizona, plans to build a $50-million complex in Herriman, Utah, which in addition to serving as practice facility for the first team, will have its academy players attend classes at an on-site charter school affiliated with Utah State University.

The school setup enables the Galaxy to work with its players for nearly nine hours each weekday -- training, educating and feeding them -- before turning them back to parents each night without worrying about losing them to a school program or one of the many elite youth soccer programs in Southern California, explains Baxter.

"These kids show up every day, they train in a professional environment, they go to school and they're able to get home at a reasonable hour," said Pete Vagenas, director of the Galaxy's academy system. "In the previous model, kids and parents spent whole afternoons driving to and from practice. They would end up eating in the car. Kids now are done [for the day] at a consistent time."

Los Angeles Times: “At the Galaxy's school, soccer is hardly the only subject”

‘EUROPEAN POWER PLAY.’ In Cam Smith’s report on European clubs entering the U.S. youth soccer market, he got the views of Mike Hoyer, Acting Executive Director of AYSO, which has been providing low-cost youth soccer in the USA for more than half a century.

“It’s another waypoint on the development timeline,” Hoyer said. “There are people that will be attracted to that European brand. Will it make for a better soccer experience? That still comes down to the coaching that is delivered in that club. …

“For us, it’s not a big concern. They’re trying to attract parents that will open up their checkbook to any big name that comes in front of them.”

USA Today: “A European power play: Elite soccer clubs develop roots with American youth academies”

MLS NEWCOMER IMPORTS ACADEMY DIRECTOR. Atlanta United, which begins MLS play in 2017, hired Englishman Richard Money as its youth academy director. Money, who spent the bulk of his playing career with Scunthorpe United and Fulham, also had a stint with Liverpool. As coach, he served in youth programs of Newcastle United, Coventry and Aston Villa, and as head coach of teams in Sweden, Australia and England, most recently Cambridge United of the fourth division. Atlanta United also appointed Georgia United founder Tony Annan as academy manager. …

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Richard Money Q&A.

TAB RAMOS ON PULISIC. In Brian Sciaretta’s interview with the USA’s U-20 men’s national team coach and U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director, Tab Ramos discusses the surge of young players in Europe, domestic player development, and the U.S. U-23s failing to qualify for the Olympics -- and 17-year-old Pennsylvania product Christian Pulisic, who has had a remarkable run at Borussia Dortmund and is on the Jurgen Klinsmann’s preliminary roster for this summer’s Copa Centenario.

“Will [Pulisic] play for our U-20 national team? Chances are he probably will not. … The U-20 World Cup is [May-June 2017]. Maybe at that moment Christian in a place where he can help the U-20 team. Look, Paul Pogba played for France’s U-20 team when he was starting for Juventus.

“I think it has a lot to do with what the senior national team coach has, what the schedule of the senior national team is, and how we view our program at the moment. If we feel Christian is probably not going to start with our senior team, is not going to get a lot of playing time over the next month, and it is important that we do well with the U-20s and to see how he can do on the world stage with the best players of that age. … So that is why I never eliminate players.

American Soccer Now: "Tab Ramos Talks Pulisic, Player Pools, and Olympics"

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Roster: U.S. U-17 girls convene in Chula Vista

For the U-17 Women's World Cup-bound U.S. team's second camp since qualifying in March, Coach B.J. Snow  has named a 24-player squad to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., from May 8-14.

Seventeen of the players were part of the squad that won the Concacaf U-17 championship and clinched a spot at the U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan Sept. 30-Oct. 21.


Photo courtesy U.S. Soccer.

The roster is comprised of 12 players born in 1999, the age-cut for this year’s World Cup, nine 2000s, and three 2001s -- defenders Kennedy Wesley and Kate Wiesner and forward Jordan Canniff, a trio that was part of the Concacaf championship team.

Ashley Sanchez, who led the team with five goals in qualifying, will be playing with the U-20s in coming months.

U.S. U-17 girls national team
GOALKEEPERS (3): Hillary Beall (So Cal Blues; Laguna Beach, Calif.), Laurel Ivory (West Florida Flames; Surfside Fla.), Katie Meyer (Eagles SC; Newbury Park, Calif.).                  
DEFENDERS (9): Maycee Bell (Sporting KC; Wichita, Kans.), Naomi Girma (Central Valley Crossfire; San Jose, Calif.), Brianna Martinez (New Mexico Rush; Albuquerque, N.M.), Tara McKeown (Eagles SC; Newbury Park, Calif.), Izzy Rodriguez (Michigan Hawks; Canton, Mich.), Karina Rodriguez (So Cal Blues; Torrance, Calif.) Emily Smith (De Anza Force; Los Gatos, Calif.), Kennedy Wesley (So Cal Blues; Rossmoor, Calif.), Kate Wiesner (Slammers FC; Monrovia, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Ryanne Brown (Indiana Fire; Indianapolis, Ind.), Coriana Dyke (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Brianna Pinto (CASL; Durham, N.C.), Frankie Tagliaferri (PDA; Colts Neck, N.J.), Taryn Torres (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas).
FORWARDS (6): Jordan Canniff (Richmond United; California, Md.), Joanna Harber (Eastside FC; Bellevue, Wash.), Rachel Jones (Tophat; Lawrenceville, Ga.), Civana Kuhlmann (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks; Canton, Mich.).

8 comments about "Galaxy provides school in quest to produce an American Messi".
  1. Bob Ashpole, May 10, 2016 at 4:28 p.m.

    The headline is a little off the mark. A more realistic goal is providing better development opportunities for future professional players. Putting together quality programs for elite teen players is an important step toward growing the sport, and the opportunity should be extended for elite players of both genders. Barca and the other top European clubs will still be the first choice destinations for the best youth players, but restrictions on international movement of minors prevents an international move for most players until after high school. All American countries face the same situation. Messi, after all, left home for Barca despite the many opportunities in South America.

  2. beautiful game, May 10, 2016 at 6:56 p.m.

    Discovery of soccer DNA can only occur if the youth development system identifies the raw talent and is able to nurture it along the way. An example is Giuseppe Rossi, born in NJ and developed at the Parma Academy.

  3. BJ Genovese, May 10, 2016 at 8:49 p.m.

    Its has to be residential. I have a question... why are college coaches ID players then having them pay money to come to there ID camps? Is this just another fleecing of soccer players families. They sound interested by going to a showcase and then contact as many "prospects" as possible to come to there camps "fundraisers". Is this legit? Why wont these "reporters" get on this whole College showcase ID camp fleecing bit? Thats a real story

  4. stan kull, May 11, 2016 at 3:26 p.m.

    Here is an interesting view written almost two months ago: http://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/mar/16/why-cant-america-develop-a-soccer-star

  5. Ric Fonseca, May 11, 2016 at 3:42 p.m.

    INMHO, many pfolks out there just DO NOT understand nor COMPREHEND the myriad number of NCAA/NAIA/NSCJAA rules for recruiting and signing potential talent for their DI,II teams (cf: NCAA DIII programs supposedly do not offer intercollegiate athletic aid, though they do not "shy" away from offering a grant-in-aid packet...) If any college coach even so much as to talk to a potential signee before they reach a certain school grade and someone blows the whistle, that coach may be getting his/her walking papers. I vividly remember some years ago, our son played on a very talented team, the team manager got them to play in the prestigious Surf Cup (So. Calif) and while there I spotted several DI coaches from very "prestigious" universities, and since I knew several, I went to greet them. During the "how ya doin'?" banter, some asked if I knew if team XYZ, or ABC was comprised of juniors or seniors, and when I asked why, they said they needed to know so they could collect names, and other particular info an a player or two, BUT, they could/would NOT even talk to him/her without fear of NCAA "reprisals," or until the player reached a certain grade. Now this was almost 20 years ago, and it would be of interest to note if the NCAA has changed its rules - "probly" not - but hope does spring eternal! As for the so-called College Showcase/ID camp business, well, it is just that, business.

  6. Allan Lindh, May 11, 2016 at 5:47 p.m.

    We already have another Messi -- have you watched Mallory Pugh? And she came out of high school and club play.

  7. Kevin Sims, May 12, 2016 at 10:22 a.m.

    This model holds vastly more promise than telling thousands of players to focus solely on soccer via the Development Academy to insure their professional blossoming ... which is at the very least deceiving. Provide elite experiences and opportunities for elite talent, while encouraging a love of the game and enjoyment of the game in various ways for everybody else. The DA feeds illusions of elite status ... ultimately doing more harm than good in the process.

  8. beautiful game, May 16, 2016 at 11:01 a.m.

    Mallory Pugh, another Messi?

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