Vancouver Whitecaps FC to Join U.S. Soccer Development Academy for 2011-12 Season
- Whitecaps FC Increases Number of MLS Academy Clubs to 15Â
- First Academy Club from Canada Brings Strong Development History, Residency Program
CHICAGO (April 1, 2011) â€“ After an extensive review process, Vancouver Whitecaps FC have been selected to join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. The club will join the Academy and begin competing on the field during the 2011-12 season.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC joined Major League Soccer beginning in the 2011 season, after playing in numerous first- and second-division leagues since 1974. Whitecaps FC established a full-time, fully funded residency program in 2007 and are in the midst of expanding it to include 80 elite athletes beginning at the Under-14 age group and ranging through the U-17/18 age group.
â€œVancouver Whitecaps FCÂ has demonstrated they are heavily invested in player development and have a well-established residency program,â€ said U.S. Soccer Development Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore. â€œWhitecaps FC meets the strong technical standards and expectations required and will elevate the level of competition for Academy players. We look forward to integrating another well-qualified, MLS Academy club into the youth player development environment.â€
U.S. Soccer received a competitive pool of applicants, all of which were evaluated to determine which clubs would best improve the quality of play in the Academy. The evaluation was based on a number of categories, including geographic location, history of player development, coaching staff and administrative capabilities.
Whitecaps FC will play in the Western Conference, joining Cal Odyssey, California Development Academy, Crossfire Premier, De Anza Force, San Jose Earthquakes, Santa Cruz Breakers Academy and Seattle Sounders in the Northwest Division.
The Academy program was created in 2007 to enhance the player development environment for elite youth players in the United States, with specific focus on increasing the number of training sessions, decreasing the total number of games while increasing the number of quality games and maintaining the highest level of coaching, refereeing and competition available in an everyday environment.
â€œWe are very excited to be part of the Development Academy and thank U.S. Soccer for the opportunity,â€ said Dan Lenarduzzi, Whitecaps FC director of soccer development. â€œWeâ€™ve had great success with the Residency program over the past several years and, with the expansion of our club system, the Academy will now provide the important competitive platform needed.â€
Aside from providing clubs with a soccer-centric environment, the Academy program also provides a platform to systematically improve the player identification and development processes. More than half of the Academy matches are attended by a national team scout, resulting in a comprehensive system to evaluate player, coach and referee talent.
With the Spring season in full force, Academy clubs are competing for a place in the Academy Playoffs, which will take place June 24-28 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Playoffs precede finals week, which takes place July 9-16 at a location to be announced in the coming weeks.