CHICAGO (September 18, 2007) – U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy, the innovative new program designed to revolutionize elite youth player development, is set to debut with the inaugural Fall Showcase Weekend from Oct. 6-8 at the National Training Center in Carson, Calif. Forty teams from 20 elite clubs will participate in the three-day event, which includes teams at the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups. The premier match takes place the evening of Saturday, Oct. 6, when the U.S. Youth National Team takes on the Chivas USA U-18 Academy Team on the Mooch Myernick Field at The Home Depot Center. A full schedule of matches will be available later this week.
A total of 40 matches will be played during the weekend showcase, which is expected to draw college coaches and scouts from Southern California and beyond. Additionally, national staff coaches will use the Fall Showcase to identify players for places in upcoming national team camps.
U.S. Soccer Development Academy Fall Showcase Clubs
|AFC Lightning (Fayetteville, Ga.)||Miami FC Kendall (Miami, Fla.)|
|Atlanta Fire United (Duluth, Ga.)||Mustang SC (Danville, Calif.)|
|Birmingham United (Birmingham, Ala.)||Nomads SC (San Diego, Calif.)|
|Bridge FA (Charleston, S.C.)||Richmond Strikers (Glen Allen, Va.)|
|Chivas USA (Carson, Calif.)||Richmond Kickers (Glen Allen)|
|Clearwater Chargers (Clearwater, Fla.)||Schulz Academy (Boca Raton, Fla.)|
|Concorde Fire SC (Marietta, Ga.)||Surf SC (Carlsbad, Calif.)|
|Crossfire Premier (Redmond, Wash.)||U.S. YNT (Bradenton, Fla.)|
|De Anza SC (Sunnyvale, Calif.)||Virginia Rush (Virginia Beach, Va.)|
|IMG Soccer Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)||Washington Premier (Tacoma, Wash.)|
Referee training will be another key component to the Showcase Weekend, with top members of the U.S. Soccer Referee Department overseeing the matches. Esse Baharmast (Director of International and Professional Referee Development), Alfred Kleinaitis (Manager of Referee Training and Development) and Paul Tamberino (Manager of Professional Assignment and Assessment) will be in Los Angeles to perform referee evaluation and instruction.
To kick off the Development Academy season, U.S. Soccer conducted a two-day Technical Workshop from Sept. 12-13 in Chicago. In addition to orientation sessions that focused on a variety of logistical areas and philosophical foundations to the Academy approach, the attendees received expert technical analysis from U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley, U.S. U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen, U-17 head coach John Hackworth and U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Bob Jenkins. Bradley spent one hour providing a video breakdown of the USA-Brazil game, while Rongen and Hackworth each selected matches from the recent Youth World Cups to illustrate coaching tactics and evaluation techniques. Jenkins reviewed the USA’s performance in the 2007 Pan American Games, focusing on roster selection and match preparation.
Also presenting at the Workshop were two of the world’s leading scholars in the Expert Performance Movement. Dr. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University presented an overview of his distinguished research on ‘deliberate practice”, a method of learning how to develop expertise. Dr. Paul Ward, his colleague at FSU, presented on the application of this theory to the sport of soccer. These principles form the philosophical foundation of the ‘less games, more training,’ approach that the Development Academy has implemented in the program.
The Development Academy program kicks off the inaugural season at the Fall Showcase. Teams will compete in three different types of game weekends – individual conference games, travel partner weekends and showcase weekends to provide them with the optimum balance of playing rhythm, economy of travel and exposure to scouts. The competition component of the Academy will feature 63 clubs, representing 24 states and the District of Columbia, plus teams from the U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program, playing at the Under-15/16 and Under-17/18 age levels. The remaining 44 clubs in the Development Academy that will not participate in the Fall Showcase begin their competitive schedule during the Winter Showcase, which will be held Feb. 16-18 at a site to be determined.
In a move designed to improve the development environment for players throughout the country, the U.S. Soccer Federation has taken the initiative in formalizing a nationwide development academy. Created to provide players with the best possible opportunity to develop, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy is being initiated after a comprehensive review of player development systems in the United States and around the world. For more information on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, log on to www.ussoccer.com.