Montreal Impact, Portland Timbers to Join Development Academy for 2012-13 Season
Additions of Impact, Timbers Increase Number of MLS Academy Clubs to 17
CHICAGO (April 3, 2012) â€“ The Montreal Impact and Portland Timbers have been selected to join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for the 2012-13 season following an extensive review process of both the technical and programmatic sides of each club.
With the additions of Portland and Montreal, the Development Academy expands to 80 clubs for the 2012-13 season. In February, U.S. Soccer announced the Academy will be moving to a 10-month season starting with the 2012-13 season after receiving overwhelming support from the Academy clubs. The new schedule runs from September through June (or July based on postseason play), and will create a format that is similar to those followed by the elite soccer playing nations around the world.
The Portland Timbers joined Major League Soccer in 2011 and are currently in the midst of their second season at the senior team level. The Timbersâ€™ soccer history began in 1975 as an expansion club within the original North American Soccer League.
The Timbers Youth Academy is forming U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams that will participate in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, and the groups will be led by club-endorsed coaches to identify and develop top youth players within the state of Oregon. Mike Smith and Adam Smith are the directors of the Timbers Academy.
â€œThe Portland Timbers have had great success in their inaugural season in MLS and look forward to continued success this season, as well. The addition of the Academy program will provide a sound platform for elite youth player development in the area,â€ said U.S. Soccer Development Academy Technical Advisor Hugo Perez, who oversees the Northwest Division. â€œThe Portland area has consistently developed a strong player pool for Youth National Team programs. We hope the addition of the Portland Timbers Academy Program will help continue to improve upon the history of player development.â€
The Timbers met all of the technical and administrative criteria for admission to the Development Academy, and Portlandâ€™s youth system is committed to providing a fully funded program for its participants. The 2011-12 Development Academy season features 14 fully funded programs.
â€œWe are delighted to have our Academy teams at the U-15/16 and U-17/18 levels join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and compete against top youth clubs in North America,â€ Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said. â€œThis is a big step in the establishment of our youth development program, one that is fully supported by our alliance clubs, the Oregon Premier League and the state association. We look forward to getting these teams started and expanding the reach of our youth player development.â€
The Timbers will join the Northwest Division of the West Conference, which includes Cal Odyssey (Clovis, Calif.), the California Development Academy (Loomis, Calif.), Crossfire Premier (Kirkland, Wash.), De Anza Force (Saratoga, Calif.), San Jose Earthquakes (Santa Clara, Calif.), Santa Cruz Breakers Academy (Aptos, Calif.), Seattle Sounders FC (Tukwila, Wash.) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Vancouver, Canada).
Portland Timbers forward Darlington Nagbe, a 2010 Hermann Trophy winner out of Akron and the No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, is a former U.S. Soccer Development Academy player with Ohio-based Internationals SC. Defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste also played within the Academy system at Albertson SC in Long Island, N.Y.
The Montreal Impact joined MLS beginning with the current 2012 season. Philippe Eullaffroy is the Impactâ€™s Director of Player Development and head coach of its residential, fully funded Academy program. Eullaffroy joined the Impact in 2005 and has headed its Academy since March of 2010. The Impact will field U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams in the Development Academy.
"It's important as a club to play at the highest level in North America," Impact sporting director Nick De Santis said. "A lot of young players from this league developed into very good players. We want to put our players in a professional environment, and they need to be challenged at a young age to progress. It will also be a measuring tool to see where we are in North America."
Montreal Impact forward Andrew Wenger, the No. 1 overall selection of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft out of Duke, played within the Development Academy with PA Classics.
The Development Academy is incorporating a divisional realignment for the 2012-13 season, and the Impact will join the new-look Northeast Division in the East Conference that features Albertson SC (Great Neck, N.Y.), Empire United (Rochester, N.Y.), FC Greater Boston (Waban, Mass.), FC Westchester (Scarsdale, N.Y.), Met Oval (Lynbrook, N.Y.), New England Revolution (Foxborough, Mass.), New York Red Bulls (Secaucus, N.J.), N.Y. Cosmos Academy (Queens, N.Y.), Oakwood Soccer Club (Glastonbury, Conn.), Seacoast United (Hampton, N.H.) and South Central Premier (Branford, Conn.).
The Development Academy was created in 2007 to enhance the player development environment for elite youth players in the U.S., with specific focus on increasing the number of training sessions, decreasing the total number of games, while increasing the number of quality matches to maintain the highest level of coaching, refereeing and competition available in an everyday environment.
The Academy program provides clubs with a soccer-centric environment and a platform to systematically improve player identification and development processes. More than half of the Academy matches are attended by National Team scouts, resulting in a comprehensive system to evaluate player, coach and referee talent.