Georgia United to Join Development Academy for 2011-12 Season
Atlanta-Area Club to Participate in Southeast Division, Begin Play in the Fall
Fully-Funded Program Will Join Vancouver Whitecaps FC as New Entrants Next Season
CHICAGO (May 26, 2011) â€“ Following an extensive application and review process, Georgia United will join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program to begin Southeast Division play in the 2011-12 season.
The fully-funded program will bring together four established clubs in the Atlanta area â€“ North Atlanta SA, Norcross SA, United Futbol Academy and AFC Lightning. Georgia United will blend the technical staff and player pools from those four clubs to form Academy teams in the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups.
â€œThe fact that they will be a fully-funded club shows their commitment to player development and building a competitive player pool,â€ said U.S. Soccer Director of Scouting Tony Lepore. â€œWe think itâ€™s great that four of the top clubs in the Atlanta area were able to join forces in the best interest of elite player development. Georgia United is a positive example where these clubs, who usually compete against one another, will now combine resources to maximize development for their top tier of players.â€
Georgia United will join Vancouver Whitecaps FC as new entrants into the Development Academy. U.S. Soccer received a competitive pool of applicants and, based on the technical and administrative requirements, determined that the two clubs would best fit into the Academyâ€™s philosophies and standards.
Georgia United executive director Dave Smith, who started the process of bringing the four clubs together, worked closely with the other clubs as well as U.S. Soccer technical staff to form the best possible environment for the players.
â€œIt was all about figuring out the best model,â€ said Smith. â€œI have friends all over the country who are part of the Academy and weâ€™ve been very interested in being a part of it. I got together with three other club directors who I knew had similar philosophies and we talked it over. We talked about how we could all continue to build our current clubs while joining forces to form our Development Academy teams. We will actually be able to filter the philosophies of the program into all levels of our clubs.â€
Teams who play in the Development Academyâ€™s U-15/16 and U-17/18 age group are required to train at least three times per week and improving the quality of games while decreasing the overall number of games played. Based on a comprehensive review of player development in the U.S. and around the world, the goal of the program is to create the best possible environment for elite players to develop while also maintaining high standards for coaches and referees.
Georgia United will continue to build its player pool during the summer, and begin divisional play in September. The 2010-11 regular season is currently coming to a close, with two more weeks of divisional play leading into Playoffs, which will take place from June 24-28 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. The season will culminate with the top eight teams in each age group competing at Finals Week, which is set for July 9-16 in Milwaukee.