SA Confidential: MLS's Todd Durbin on launching new development league in wake of DA's
Teams in the competition would also include non-MLS academy teams that previously participated in the Development Academy. MLS is evaluating expanding participation to include clubs beyond the former Development Academy.
No age groups were mentioned in the MLS statement but the two age groups the league will likely concentrate on are U-17 and U-15, the key development years, but it is also looking at an U-19 league, the latter complicated by the different views that MLS clubs have about the age group. (Some teams prefer to push older academy players into their USL teams.)
The launch is dependent on the normalization of sports activity halted by the current pandemic. Despite the economic downturn that will follow, MLS clubs have plenty of incentive to take over for U.S. Soccer in the operation of a development league for its youth players.
MLS's clubs have invested millions of dollars in recent years in new training facilities. Most were primarily designed for their first teams, but they include fields and all sorts of facilities for academy teams. They can't afford to throw them to waste.
MLS is also looking ahead to 2026 World Cup, and it views the next six years as a period of heightened interest and excitement for soccer that will translate into making young players more motivated about excelling at the sport.