Fourth Year of Development Academy Program Underway
• Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna to Introduce U.S. Soccer’s ‘RESPECT’ Theme for 2010-11 Academy Season
• Increased Number of Technical Advisors to Provide Greater U.S. Soccer Presence in Key Markets
• Professional Clubs and Youth National Teams Seeing Benefits of Academy Program
CHICAGO (Sept. 13, 2010) – The 2010-11 season of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy kicked off this weekend, with 16 games in the Texas, Southeast and Atlantic Divisions. The fourth year of the program will continue to improve the overall development of more than 4,000 players, 600 coaches and 900 referees in the coming year.
Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna, who was appointed by U.S. Soccer in April, will oversee the technical programming of the Development Academy and provide guidance to the Technical Advisors. Reyna, who also oversees youth national team programming, will provide an even greater link between the national teams and Academy clubs. Reyna has also introduced the theme of ‘RESPECT’, which will increase the focus on coach and parent sideline behavior in order to focus more attention on the teaching responsibilities of youth coaches.
The new season will also increase the number of U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors to provide more support to Academy clubs and other elite coaches in key geographies. In addition to Director of Scouting Tony Lepore and returning Technical Advisors Chris Brewer, Hugo Perez and Louis Mateus, the network will also include Mike Dickey, Roberto Lopez, Juan Carlos Michia, Rene Miramontes and Dave Rubinson. Each Technical Advisor will be responsible for a smaller geographic area, creating a closer relationship with each club. In addition to working within the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups, the Technical Advisors will also work with younger age groups within the Academy clubs, and will increase the number of U.S. Soccer Training Centers for boys and introduce player identification and coaching education opportunities for girls.
The first of three major events in the upcoming season will be the 2010 Winter Showcase and Nike International Friendlies, which will once again be played in Phoenix, Ariz. The U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team will continue its preparations for the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship by playing three international opponents at the Reach 11 Sports Complex alongside the 156 teams participating in Academy league matches.
In a change from previous year’s format, the upcoming season will feature a combined Playoffs and scouting event that will incorporate all 156 teams. The top 32 teams in each age group will compete in the Academy Playoffs in Frisco, Texas, while the remaining 92 teams will attend the event as a preview for next season’s Academy teams. Those teams will participate in exhibition matches, player testing and team training with U.S. Soccer staff. This all-encompassing event will replace the separate Spring Showcase and Playoffs from prior seasons.
The Academy will welcome three new clubs as Real Salt Lake-Arizona, Minnesota Thunder and Shattuck-St. Mary’s will bring the total number of clubs to 78. Real Salt Lake-Arizona, which is led by former Men’s National Team defender Greg Vanney, and Shattuck-St. Mary’s are Residency Programs that will provide an added support system within the Academy’s every day environment.
During the 2009-10 season, the program continued to grow as more Academy players and alumni made impressive marks on youth national teams and the professional ranks. A number of MLS Homegrown Player signings, including Andy Najar and Bill Hamid (D.C. United), within Major League Soccer and players like former Dallas Texan’s Conor Doyle (Derby County) signing professional contracts abroad demonstrate the benefits of training within the Academy environment. Currently, 24 players who are part of U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Men’s National Team Residency Program are part of Development Academy clubs, and the U.S. U-20 MNT currently in Peru features seven players who signed professional contracts directly from Academy clubs.
Since its launch in the fall of 2007, the Academy has provided an increased focus on training and player development by providing a clear connection between the U.S. national teams and more than 4,000 young players across the country. Top youth coaches and players have direct access to U.S. Soccer staff on a regular basis through the structured programming overseen by U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna. The Academy also provides opportunities for the country’s top referees to be identified and trained in a positive learning environment alongside U.S. Soccer’s Referee Department. Continuing extensive coverage of the 2010-11 Development Academy season can be found at ussoccer.com.