Sources: Former U.S. Soccer executive Jay Berhalter will consult MLS on design of new development program

Jay Berhalter, who stepped down from his position as U.S. Soccer's chief commercial and strategy officer at the end of February, will work as a consultant on the new MLS player development project the league announced on Wednesday minutes after the federation confirmed it was shuttering the Development Academy it operated in the boys side since 2007 and girls side since 2017.

Sources confirmed to Soccer America the reporting of The Athletic's Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio that Berhalter will help design the new MLS league.

In an interview with Soccer America on Wednesday, Todd Durbin, MLS's executive vice president of competition and player relations, said the league will concentrate on its own academy teams, non-MLS teams that were in the Development Academy and even teams not previously in the Development Academy. More than a dozen DA teams have already committed to the ECNL for the 2020-21 season. Durbin talked with directors of non-MLS DA teams about the program this week.

Just what form the new league takes remains to be seen. Durbin said the key age groups are U-17 and U-15 but MLS is also looking at the U-19 age group. One key difference in the U.S. Soccer circuit and MLS's new programming will likely be in its flexibility on playing outside teams, such as in the ECNL, and its interest in expanding international competition.

MLS operates the Generation adidas Cup at the U-17 and U-15 age groups with multiple international entrants. The 2020 competition was scheduled for April 4-11 at the Toyota Soccer Center at Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas, in Frisco, Texas. That is a one-week competition. Operating a full season is another thing.

All plans are contingent on sports activities returning with a relaxation of shelter-in-place and social-distancing orders. On top of that, the future of many youth clubs is uncertain because of the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic on clubs themselves fearful of the loss of key funding sources and the reluctance of families to commit to often-expensive programming in the short term.

Berhalter's responsibilities were primarily on the business side -- Berhalter served as CEO of the 2016 Copa Centenario, which earned U.S. Soccer a $75 million windfall -- but he was closely involved in all aspects of the federation's operations and often clashed with others on the technical side. He was one of the architects of the Development Academy though he left the federation two years after its launch to work at Kentaro Group, a now-defunct Swiss-headquartered company that handled media rights for many soccer federations.

Except for that five-year break at Kentaro Group, Berhalter has worked at U.S. Soccer for the last two decades, holding such titles as chief operating officer and deputy executive director. It once appeared Berhalter would be the successor to retiring CEO Dan Flynn, but then-U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro halted the CEO job search in May because he was not satisfied with the short list of candidates.

A new search firm came on board in September. Will Wilson was hired as the new CEO in March, shortly after Cordeiro quit as president and was replaced by vice president Cindy Parlow Cone.

6 comments about "Sources: Former U.S. Soccer executive Jay Berhalter will consult MLS on design of new development program".
  1. frank schoon, April 17, 2020 at 10:20 p.m.

    Good luck on that... I can't wait to see this genius at work creating a new program to develop our youth.

    I hope he includes Cordeiro in this endeavor for I know our youth development would be running on all cylinders like it  has been. <sarc>


  2. Wallace Wade, April 18, 2020 at 9:47 a.m.

    Let's see how many Non-MLS DA Teams are included? 

  3. frank schoon replied, April 18, 2020 at 10:43 a.m.

    Wallace, the problem with US soccer is that they see player development as a Top down issue instead of Bottom up. In other words lots of administrative types with ties instead with soccer shoes on, who see development as an organizational or structural thing. This is why development is unbalanced in the equation whereby money, organization and structure rules when setting the development guidelines when in fact all 3 were never played a real part in how I learned the game for it was mostly 90% Bottom up. 

    As long as we see development as a Top down issue, pay for play will remain a sore issue when it doesn't have to be.

    Here is a Bottom up example. We have currently a period or a transistional period whereby all players  ,  espeically those who play for good teams or think they are  good players to work on their own at least an hour or more a day on their left foot. Have any soccer organizations urged, incouraged, strongly ,that players who want to become better to work with their weak foot only.

    This is the best period. right now to work on this facet of technique. I'm afraid no one at any sectors of soccer is taking up the mantle to strongly support such a self-development program. It is the cheapest and best way to develop one's abilities without any Top down directives....

  4. Ben Myers, April 18, 2020 at 1:07 p.m.

    NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!  Why Berhalter?

  5. cony konstin, April 18, 2020 at 2:57 p.m.

    If I was the mls I would bring 3 people in to create a revolution for elite football and mentor. Javier Lozano for futsal. Won two world cups for Spain. Perkerman who won two u20 world cups for Argentina.. And the  third person one of Don Roly Aguilera's number one disciple Tahuichi soccer academy Director of Coacching for 41 years Profe Ciro Medrano. MLS needs to think of the box. I don't know perkerman but I know Javier because he was my mentor as my Fifa coaching instructor and I know Ciro for 30 years. These 3 gentlemen bring an enormous of amount of experience, knowledge and detailed insight. 

  6. Goal Goal, April 19, 2020 at 9:59 p.m.

    That's like hiring the fox as a consultant for improving security on the chicken coupe.

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