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USSF Taking Youth Initiative

According to documents obtained by the Insider and The Washington Post, the U.S. Soccer Federation's board of directors met last week in Chicago and approved the establishment of a boys' academy program and national youth league to improve American soccer at the teenage level.

The federation plans to identify 60 to 80 youth clubs across the country. Those clubs will then select players from the under-15 and under-18 age groups to participate in the academy, which has been designed to increase the "quality and quantity of training" and "the number of quality games." The USSF hopes to have the program up and running this fall.

According to the federation, up to 2,400 players in each age group will be involved. (Players not on academy teams will continue to participate in traditional club programs.)

Academy teams will have as many as 30 players, train four or five times weekly and play one match per week. The U.S. under-16 national team will play in the academy league and each MLS team will be encouraged to field a team. Academy squads will play opponents in their geographic area during a 36- to 38-game schedule, plus friendlies. National team coaches and scouts will observe games, the USSF stated.

The federation also plans to offer a similiar initiative for female players in the near future.

That is all I have on the program right now. Still a lot of uncertainty about how it will all work. We'll have to wait for the federation's official announcement for more details. At first glance, however, it seems Gulati and the USSF are trying to find a way to expose more players to competitive soccer and expand the youth national team player pools. But will all the elite clubs cooperate? Logistically, can it be done?

Initial thoughts?

By Steve Goff  |  May 28, 2007; 9:46 AM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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