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Real Madrid to RFK (Sort Of)

Real Madrid plans to send an under-17 squad to Washington April 4-11 for the Tiffany Trophy Cup. The marquee match is Real against D.C. United's U-16 team April 4 at RFK Stadium, preceding United's MLS game against Houston. Kickoff is 4:30 p.m. Other foreign clubs involved are Blackburn, Saprissa and Chivas. Local participants are United, Freestate Soccer Alliance Elite of Bowie, Great Falls Elite and Potomac-based Pachuca USA. Games will also be played at Georgetown and Trinity College. For more information, click here.

By Steve Goff  |  March 12, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , Spain  
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Next: United Injury Update


Wake me up when MLS stops screwing teams who have put the resources into developing excellent academy programs that turn out quality players, yet are not allowed to offer their young players professional contracts without conceding the right to other players on their roster.

NY and DC get jerked around so cheapskate owners of other teams can continue running soccer sweatshops.

Until a team can sign the players it develops without interference from the league or from other teams, following MLS academy sides is not meaningful.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | March 12, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

@M-J -- I'd like to know more about this. You're not clear about how this operates, and I suspect I'm not the only one who doesn't understand, or know how the system works.

I've wondered about the Academy system, and why we don't see players moving on to the MLS side. What is the restriction? Are teams allowed to offer contracts and, if not, what's the real incentive in having an academy? I'm not sure it really matters, since MLS has eliminated the reserve teams and cut rosters. It will be the really rare bird that can jump from an Academy program to a 24-man roster spot. But, I'm curious...

Posted by: fischy | March 12, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Any info about ticket prices? Nothing on the site.

Posted by: fischy | March 12, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

There's a couple of rules MLS put in place about signing kids. The first is that only one player from the academy can be signed to a GA contract every three years. The second is that no player under 20 can be signed to a developmental slot, according to Ives.

It's whole lotta rigamarole designed, in my opinion, to maintain parity. If one team, say the Red Bulls, is able to dump millions into their academy, scout nationally, and get the best kids, eventually they will rise above other teams. It seems like it is a concerted effort to prevent this from happening, but allows MLS to say, "See? We have an academy program, what more do you want?"

Posted by: Josh8 | March 12, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't think we have to worry about national scouting for academies, right now. No one is leaving home for an MLS academy. They don't have the attraction that an EPL academy would have. However, there may be advantages for teams in regions with stronger youth programs. United and the Red Bulls would have a leg up in that regard -- though there are good young players in Calif. (north and south), Mass., KC, Chicago, Seattle, the Dallas area, and Philly.

Posted by: fischy | March 12, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The very bad part is that once two academy players have been signed by a team within three years, that's it, and other teams can poach players from that team.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | March 12, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

More details on the event here:

Posted by: joedoc1 | March 12, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

By the way, teams are restricted from having academy players from outside their local geographic area, and the size of that catchment area varies based onpopulation. KC has more real estate than NY.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | March 12, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Well I think its great to see potential future stars of tommorrow for either side.

Posted by: RM27 | March 12, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

On another note: the "real" Real Madrid owes D.C. United fans a visit after ditching us for Seattle a few years ago.

Goff - any news on big-name European clubs possibly coming to D.C. this summer?

Posted by: SSMD1 | March 12, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

@MJ -- I'm trying to understand your concerns here. Right now, is anyone being signed from the academies? I know Goff reported that DC is looking at one Academy player, but I've never heard of any academy signings. The Red Bulls wanted Kassel, but he's giving the NCAA a shot instead.

If teams aren't signing the top 2 prospects at their academies, they're hardly worried about some other team stealing the #3 or #4 prospect. So, how are the rules holding that back?

My guess is the reason we're not seeing signings is because none of the academies are serious enough to produce pro-ready players.

Posted by: fischy | March 12, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"The Red Bulls wanted Kassel, but he's giving the NCAA a shot instead."

When you have several MLS calibre players in your youth system, by signing two in a three year period, you may be strengthening other teams who have done nothing even more.

Cassell wasn't signed because Duka, St. Cyr, and a few other younger players are coming up. By signing Cassell in 2008, they get one more selection before 2011, and then other teams get to steal their players.

It's a stupid system that has a disincentive to act. Hell, that's maybe the point, but it seems like MLS boneheadery to me.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | March 12, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

The US system allows players to pursue a college education and play soccer at the same time. I don't think the European system does (as I understand it). Therefore our system may not produce "pro-ready" players as rapidly or as plentifully, but it may still be viewed preferably by the US players involved. And at least one fan.

Posted by: OWNTF | March 12, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Mj: the free picking hits after two players in one year, not in three. The one in three GenAd is correct though. Any team that actually has both the players and the roster spots to sign two players in three years is really not likely to care if the thirt or fourth gets signed (and it's not a draft, those players CAN sign with another team, but the home club keeps their rights if they don't)

The reality is that right now the best kids will be picked off by Bradenton (home club keeps rights, however, for two seasons). Kassel was, by all accounts, offered a developmental deal, which is what he was worth then, and turned it down for Maryland. He probably could have gotten the same this year, but stayed for another. The number of 18 year olds capable of earning a senior spot are almost nil but didn't la sign an academy guy to a GenAd deal last fall? If you don't think the guy is worth $30k and a roster spot, let him go to school, get bigger and stronger and come back.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 12, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

As I wrote above, I don't know what the rules are here. But, as for Kassel, he was offered a developmental deal originally, but chose college. This year, it seems he wanted to sign with the Bulls, but they had other ideas. They might still offer him a Gen Adidas contract. Apparently, they retain his MLS rights. Does that continue until and unless he enters the draft?

Posted by: fischy | March 12, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

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