MLS and USYS Launch Strategic Partnership to Offer New Identification Opportunities
US Youth Soccer is the largest youth soccer organization in the country and this new partnership with MLS provides a new inclusive pathway for many youth soccer players across America. This agreement has been in the works for a while and it exciting to see it enacted and become official.
MLS will absorb all expenses for youth soccer players attending and participating in the regional competitions in select age levels …Part of the groundbreaking partnership announced May 15, 2020
Major League Soccer (MLS) announced today a partnership with the US Youth Soccer (USYS), the largest youth sport organization in the country, to collaborate on initiatives that support and engage individual soccer players, as well as soccer communities, throughout the United States.
Today marks a milestone moment in the history of US Youth Soccer.Skip Gilbert, Chief Executive Officer of US Youth Soccer
“We are thrilled and proud to announce a strategic partnership with Major League Soccer which will have an incredible impact on the overall youth player development pipeline in our country,” Skip Gilbert, Chief Executive Officer of US Youth Soccer said. “The strength of MLS combined with the largest youth sport organization in America creates a partnership that will allow every player in the US an equal opportunity to fulfill their goals and succeed on, and off, the field of play.”
It is exactly one month since U.S. Soccer announced the closing of its Development Academy on April 15 — and once again the landscape of the youth soccer market shifts, and this time for the better.
The impact of this partnership between our top tier of professional soccer and the largest youth soccer organization will be interesting to track as it rolls out — it promises groundbreaking inclusion for millions of youth soccer players across America. And, while stating the obvious, this partnership is an amazing opportunity to reach out to young players and inspire passion for the beautiful game — hopefully creating lifelong fans who will grow up to be season ticket holders of their favorite soccer teams.
News of the partnership has been well received across the USA. “The strategic partnership announced between US Youth and MLS today is a tremendous step in demonstrating a commitment to the youth player development,” said Rick Kelsey, CEO of Arizona Soccer Associaton. “This creates true opportunities for expanding the player identification through all of America. US Youth Soccer and the State Associations have a presence in every community in America so this will expand and create a more efficient national scouting network while also leveraging synergies to begin addressing pay-to-play challenges. This is a great beginning in unifying the youth landscape nationally.”
Here is the Official MLS & US Youth Soccer Press Release on the launch of their new partnership:
The collaboration will support enhancements in player identification and monitoring, coaching and scouting education, competition, and fan engagement throughout the USYS community that includes more than 3 million boys and girls soccer players across 55 member State Associations. In addition, the partnership will create a clear pathway for boys and girls to be seen and scouted, regardless of location or financial resources.
“We are very proud that USYS and its 55 member States Associations have decided to make MLS their league of choice,” said Gordon Bengtson, Senior Director of Player Development.
“The State Associations are crucial partners in creating more meaningful connections to the professional levels while supporting the overall growth of the game. This is particularly important in communities that have not historically had access to elite development environments or professional pathways. This is a first step towards our goal of making the size and diversity of our country, our biggest strength,” said Bengtson.
MLS today announced, in partnership with USYS, a new regional competition platform to provide talented young boys and girls players with the ability to participate in regional competitions in front of professional club scouts.
This strategic partnership will help build on the foundation provided by MLS’ announcement of the new elite youth development platform.
By empowering the technical leaders at the local and state levels, players who excel in high school programs, on club teams, or in local soccer leagues throughout the country will be recommended for the regional competition platform.
MLS will collaborate with the technical leadership of all 55 State Associations as well as the USYS National Office to develop best practices in talent identification in each region.
As part of the commitment to enable access and remove barriers for talented players to reach their highest potential, MLS will absorb all expenses for players attending and participating in the regional competitions in select age levels.
Eliminating financial barriers for young players throughout the country is critical to ensure talented players can be seen and scouted during their formative years.
“This is not a short-term vision, but rather one in which we realize the opportunity to truly connect the whole system of soccer in our country. For too long the professional and youth systems have been working relatively independent of each other and with this MLS partnership, we start down the path of true collaboration. This will not only expand resources to grow the game at the grassroots level, but also reveal to players and families that there is a clear pathway to any level of soccer they want to achieve,” said Gilbert.
“Our goal is to ensure that every player throughout the country has the ability to reach his or her highest potential,” said Fred Lipka, Technical Director of Player Development. “There are so many young soccer players in this country that do not have the ability to access elite travel soccer programs that offer greater opportunities for talent identification. We want to ensure that every player has a clear pathway to achieve their dream of playing at the collegiate or professional level, regardless of location or financial resources.”
Additionally, as part of the broader partnership, MLS and USYS are committed to creating educational and development opportunities for USYS parents, coaches and volunteers.
“It is vital that we continue to eliminate barriers for promising players,” said Alecko Eskandarian, former MLS player and current Director of Player Relations and Competition.
“Every player deserves the opportunity to showcase his or her hard work and individual talent in front of top scouts, regardless of club affiliation or location.”Alecko Eskandarian, former MLS player and current Director of Player Relations and Competition