Commentary

Girls Development Academy taking shape: First 25 clubs accepted

By Mike Woitalla
@MikeWoitalla

Twenty-five clubs have been accepted so far by U.S. Soccer to compete in the Girls U.S. Soccer Development Academy, whose inaugural season kicks off in fall of 2017. U.S. Soccer has not specified how many clubs will take part in the 2017-18 season, during which teams will compete in U-14/15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 age groups.

The Boys DA launched in 2007 with 64 clubs and now has 74 full DA clubs and more than 100 when including clubs that field only lower age group teams. The U.S. Club Soccer-sanctioned ECNL, launched in 2009, fielded 79 clubs during this 2015-16 season.

Of the first 25 Girls DA clubs, only six were not part of the ECNL during the 2015-16 season: Beach SC, Cincinnati, Lamorinda, the Washington Spirit, the Boston Breakers and Seattle Reign. The Breakers and the Reign, both affiliates of the pro NWSL league clubs, have joined the ECNL for the 2016-17 season. The NWSL's Sky Blue FC has partnered with New Jersey club PDA for Girls DA play. With the Spirit, Orlando Pride and Portland Thorns, six of the NWSL's teams, so far, are part of the Girls DA.

A survey of a handful of DA-accepted ECNL clubs indicates that ECNL clubs are planning to field teams in both leagues in the 2017-18 season.

First 25 Girls DA Clubs
Beach FC (Torrance, Calif.)
Boston Breakers (Watertown, Mass.)
CASL (Raleigh, N.C.)
Cincinnati Development Academy/Kings Hammer/CUP (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Colorado Rush (Littleton, Colo.)

Concorde Fire (Atlanta, Ga.)
Crossfire (Redmond, Wash.)
De Anza Force (Saratoga, Calif.)
FC Dallas (Frisco, Texas)
LAFC-Slammers (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Lamorinda (Moraga, Calif.)
Michigan Hawks (Livonia, Mich.)
Mustang (Danville, Calif.)
Orlando Pride/City SC (Orlando, Fla.)
Penn Fusion SA (Westtown, Pa.)

Portland Thorns (Portland, Ore.)
Real Colorado (Highlands Ranch, Co.)
San Diego Surf (San Diego, Calif.)
Seattle Reign (Seattle, Wash.)
Sky Blue FC-PDA (Bernardsville, N.J.)

So Cal Blues (Rancho Capistrano, Calif.)
Sockers FC (Palatine, Ill.)
Solar Chelsea SC (Dallas, Texas)
Washington Spirit (Boyds, Md.)
Tophat NTH (Atlanta, Ga.)

According to U.S. Soccer, the first 25 clubs have a total of 119 coaches with a U.S. Soccer A or B Coaching License, including 91 coaches employed on a full-time basis. And 307 players for from the 25 clubs have been called in by U.S. national teams, youth and senior. They will be providing 276 full scholarships “with a total of $1.49 million of scholarship funds being contributed,” according to U.S. Soccer’s press release.

The applications (the 2017-18 deadline for which is July 1) for the Girls DA are evaluated by the U.S. Soccer technical staff on:

• Leadership of the club and quality of the coaching staff.
• Desire to embrace and promote the core values of the program.
• U.S. Soccer license levels of coaching staff.
• Infrastructure of the club and the resources currently being invested in development (facilities, scholarships, staff to player ratio, etc.).
• History of player production for youth national teams, the senior women’s national team and professional leagues.
• Market and depth of the player pool, geographic location and travel implications and proximity to other elite clubs.

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So Cal Blues and Slammers take ECNL crowns

Southern California clubs So Cal Blues and Slammers FC won ECNL U-14 and U-18 national titles, respectively, this week in Oceanside, California, where U-15, U-16 and U-17 semifinalists were determined. So Cal Blues clinched the U-14 title with a 4-0 win over Ohio Premier. Slammers FC defeated the Michigan Hawks, 2-0, in the U-18 final.

ECNL National Championship semifinalists
(July 8-9 in Germantown, Md.)
U-15: Mustang (Calif.), FC Stars of Mass, Slammers (Calif.), West Coast (Calif.).
U-16: Real Colorado, FC Stars of Mass, Crossfire Premier (Wash.), PDA (N.J.).
U-17: Michigan Hawks, San Diego Surf, De Anza Force (Calif.), Slammers (Calif.)

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U.S. U-20 men down Costa Rica

The U.S. U-20 men’s national team opened the 2016 NTC Invitational Center in Carson, Calif., with a 2-0 win over Costa Rica on goals by Jeremy Ebobisse and Sebastian Saucedo.

Ebobisse, of Duke University, struck in the ninth minute, assisted the 52nd minute goal Sebastian Saucedo, who’s Mexican club Veracruz on loan from Real Salt Lake.


Back row (L-R) Jonathan Klinsmann, Jeremy Ebobisse, Miles Robinson, Auston Trusty, Marcello Borges.
Front row: Luca De La Torre, Eryk Williamson, Sebastian Saucedo, Auston Trusty, Mukwelle Akale, Eryk Williamson. (Courtesy U.S. Soccer)

The USA, coached by Tab Ramos, faces Panama, which opened with a scoreless tie with Japan, on Friday at 10 p.m. ET. All the games are streamed U.S. Soccer’s YouTube page.

June 29 in Carson, Calif.
USA 2 Costa Rica 0. Goals: Ebobisse (De La Torre), Saucedo (Ebobisse) 52.
USA -- Klinsmann; Herrera (Fossey, 68), Robinson, 5- Trusty, Borges; Acosta (Yueill, 68), De La Torre (Arellano, 79), Akale (Young, 79); Ebobisse (Mansaray, 84), Williamson, Saucedo. Costa Rica -- Barrientos; Morales, Phillips (Gonzalez), Carmona, Espinoza (Alfaro, 75); Sequeira, Cordoba (Vargas, 83), Juarez; Espinoza (Villegas, 75), Loria (Masis 66), Marin (Zapata, 66).

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U-20 women convene in Chula Vista

Coach Michelle French  has named a 19-player squad for the U.S. U-20 women's national team's July 6-15 training camp in Chula Vista, California. The team is preparing for the 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea (Nov. 13-Dec. 3), where the USA will face France, New Zealand and Ghana in first-round play.

In latest competition, on a trip to Papua New Guinea in May, French’s team beat Papua New Guinea, 10-0, and fell to Japan, 5-0. Afterward the team had a training camp in North Carolina (June 15-23).

U.S. U-20 women’s national team
GOALKEEPERS (2): Rose Chandler (Penn State; Atlanta, Ga.), Casey Murphy (Rutgers; Bridgewater, N.J.)/
DEFENDERS (7): Madeline Elliston (Penn State; Omaha, Neb.), Emily Fox (FC Virginia; Ashburn, Va.), Sabrina Flores (Notre Dame; Livingston, N.J.), Ellie Jean (Penn State; Coventry, Conn.), Natalie Jacobs (Notre Dame; Coto de Caza, Calif.), Taylor Otto (CASL; Apex, N.C.), Kaleigh Riehl (Penn State; Fairfax Station, Va.).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Marley Canales (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Katie Cousins (Tennessee; Forest, Va.), Savannah DeMelo (Beach FC; Bellflower, Calif.), Kelcie Hedge (Washington; Post Falls, Idaho), Emily Ogle (Penn State; Strongsville, Ohio), Courtney Petersen (Virginia; Canton, Mich.), Parker Roberts (Florida; Leawood, Kan.).
FORWARDS (3): Ashley Sanchez (SoCal Blues; Monrovia, Calif.), Jessie Scarpa (North Carolina; Lakeland, Fla.), Ally Watt (Texas A&M; Colorado Springs, Colo.).

11 comments about "Girls Development Academy taking shape: First 25 clubs accepted".
  1. Brian Ashley, July 1, 2016 at 8:44 a.m.

    Maybe at some point in the future this might make sense. But I can't see leaving an ECNL club for an unknown.

    Not that Hawks or Surf are unknowns, but if you have a 2000 player as I have how much sense would it make to go to a startup league when you're already in a league that draws D1 recruiters in droves?

    I'm sure that in 4 or 5 years GDA will probably work for some people, if they can stand the one year on one year off schedule. But now? No way.

  2. James e Chandler replied, July 1, 2016 at 10:22 a.m.

    IF you think ECNL was founded to benefit players, or development of our WNT, then you're ignoring a cliche from crime novels,
    follow the money.
    Players were recruited by D1 schools before ECNL. If anything it made it even more difficult for a player from a family with less than upper middle class means to be recognized.
    On the other side, not sure about now, but at one time our WNT included 4 women that are daughters of heart surgeons.
    One other thing. Most D1 soccer is still "ugly American soccer", in other words, boot the ball down the field, and hope your forward can outrun the defense, and kick the ball on frame.
    No es joga bonita.

  3. don Lamb replied, July 2, 2016 at 4:30 p.m.

    Thank you James. Acting like ECNL is something that clubs should think twice about leaving is a complete joke. The DA system is far from perfect, but it's way past time for it to be implemented on the girls side.

  4. Brian Ashley replied, August 1, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

    Guys, guys. No one is denying the problems and reality of ECNL. But for the first transition year, a U16 or U17 who has the opportunity to play ECNL should do it for the simple reason that, rightly or wrongly, playing ECNL opens more doors more easily and makes it easier to get the attention of college and US Soccer coaches.

  5. Mary f Riley-jacome, July 1, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.

    Hard to believe that New York isn't going to have a Development Academy for girls. Not sure how U.S. Soccer can justify allocating scholarship funds with disparity between east and west coast accessibility.

  6. James e Chandler replied, July 1, 2016 at 10:32 a.m.

    It's also absurd there's no DA teams between Chicago suburbs, and Denver suburbs north of Dallas suburbs.
    Certainly there's nothing egalitarian about this DA any more than ECNL.

  7. uffe gustafsson, July 1, 2016 at 6:41 p.m.

    Ofcourse it's follow the money and see who can play in those leagues. The encl or DA fees will be much higher then say NPL.
    Only way for a player that comes from a family that don't make big money is they get not only reduced club fees, and many do, but the other big expense is traveling costs, that is not always something you get a break on.
    So for a family that don't have the resources it's a big problem. Going out of state to play cost big money. If US soccer pick up the bill for some of those players that's a huge improvement,
    Hope that's the case. Still for a sport that only need cleats and shinn guards the amount of money it cost to play start to get silly.
    I would like to know what a kid in Iceland pay to play soccer, even the highest league player.
    I bet uniform cost and that's it.
    I know Swedish kids pay for uniform and a very small club fee, yes they do fund raiser for traveling too tornament.
    But not 3-5K for a traveling team in US.
    If you go out of state it goes up from those amount. This is expensive sport and add in the soccer camps and ID camps OPD camps and we are way up there in money.

  8. don Lamb replied, July 2, 2016 at 4:38 p.m.

    Comparing economics in Europe to here doesn't work. People here pay for everything. People there don't pay at all because it comes out of their taxes. Two totally different cultures with different philosophies on how things should be paid for and funded. Europe don't pay much, but they are much more limited in their options and opportunities. We pay for every single little thing that we get, but we have a crazy number of options and opportunities.

  9. don Lamb, July 2, 2016 at 11:58 p.m.

    hahaha. Do you know how badly small European clubs struggle to stay in business. TC is nowhere close to enough for them to prosper because of a number of factors. TC is NOT the reason soccer is "free" (it is not entirely free) in Europe. The reason it is free is because the federations subsidize the small clubs. As for the sporting opportunities that exist in the US... An American kid can play any number of sports and play in very nice facilities in a well organized league and in many cases for a very small amount of money. The number of sports available here is borderline ridiculous. In Europe and other countries around the world, sporting options and opportunities within those sports are MUCH more limited. The reason for this has to do with markets and population diversity. And, yes, taxes have a big influence on fiscal approaches. If you think that we are taxed a lot in the US try having 50% of your income taken out before even considering other taxes and expenses. The European system is not sustainable as a business model. The reason it works is because their federations get so much money that can be used to keep them going. But none of these clubs are actually making money. If they were forced to operate like clubs in the US do, they would also have to charge. TC alone would be nowhere near enough and definitely not consistent enough to do much to balance the books. Even the model of pro/rel is extremely flawed. Many lower division clubs do not want to be promoted past a certain level because they cannot afford to implement the standards that are demanded when they get there. Outside of the first division (sometimes just the top teams in the first division) and maybe some teams the second division, and maybe a couple of outliers, clubs in Europe are not making money -- that is WITH both training compensation and pro/rel in place.

  10. don Lamb, July 3, 2016 at 8:45 a.m.

    Yes, Germany is a perfect example. Their smaller clubs are kept up by the federation. Not many people come to their games, and they hardly charge their players anything. How else are they going to cover their expenses? Producing players is not a guarantee, especially since all of their good ones leave the club well before they are pros. Look Mannheim Nackarau or Ketsch 06 as examples. Mannheim Necharau had a golden generation of players that won the Bundesliga youth championship about 10-12 years ago. Something like five players became pros from that team. That is an insane number that no small club could ever realistically hope to replicate. What did they get for those players? A couple hundred thousand bucks and a new astroturf field that Shalke gifted them for the players. What kind of standing is the club in today? They are struggling to get by, only making it because the DFF or whatever the German fed is call is subsidizes there programs with money they get from FIFA and UEFA. There is no way that Mannheim Neckarau is paying anything back monetary to the DFF. Now, Ketch 06, which has not had any wonder teams of note. They have no way of realistically generating any income. If they got promoted past the fifth division, they would be flush with dept due to the upgrades they would be forced into...

  11. don Lamb, July 5, 2016 at 3:34 p.m.

    Saying that clubs here don't have any incentive without training compensation is just plain stupid. Most people have integrity. Most people (especially coaches) have a drive to be the best. Just like players, great coaches are internally motivated. I am for TC, but to say that it is the only way that we are going to start developing world class players or that clubs can't survive without it or that they don't have incentive without it is just stupid.

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