How Can The Soccer Federation Not Have Answers? If Not Them, Who?
While the idea of the DA was born from a necessity to raise the level of training for both players and coaches in the USA, and the concept was to not have the program last a lifetime but to gradually give the age groups back to the clubs, why during a time of unprecedented uncertainty would any Federation totally abdicate their role and responsibility now?
It is with profound disappointment that U.S. Soccer has made the determination to end the operation of the Development Academy, effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/WdnmrsIqZr— Development Academy (@ussoccer_da) April 15, 2020
After days of torrid tales of the impending demise of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA), it is highly unsatisfying to have the organization that should always continue to earn our respect release a statement like this tweet.
There is so much wrong with this situation, it is hard to know where to start.
Will Wilson – U.S. Soccer Secretary-General and CEO, Earnie Stewart – U.S. Soccer Sporting Director, Cindy Parlow Cone – U.S. Soccer President released a joint letter on April 15, 2020, announcing the end of the operation of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, effective immediately.
“… unanticipated circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a financial situation that does not allow for the continuation of the Development Academy program ….”A LETTER TO DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY CLUBS – APRIL 15 2020 FEDERATION NEWS
Blaming difficult financial decisions on the current state of affairs and the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Soccer has shutdown its flagship youth development program, without crafting plans for the clubs and teams impacted.
With 160 youth soccer clubs from all across the country participating in the DA, it is nearly unconscionable that they assume no responsibility or offer of guidance for the impacted youth soccer market.
It is not as if a low-level league disbanded. The DA was U.S. Soccer’s pinnacle of player development. This was supposed to be the future of pathway for our national team players. After all the endless effort at guiding the youth market to raise the standards, how could they walk away from it all at once — and, with no roadmap? Even if financial strain would lead to the closure of the DA in the future, why not have an organized, planned and well communicated gradually transition?
The current pandemic’s forced hiatus of all soccer provides the time for a proposal to achieve a calm and secure realignment with creative brainstorming.
Are we all to look back on this extremely challenging environment with unprecedented disruption and really say the DA was a victim of COVID-19?
Here is an excerpt of the U.S. Soccer statement:
We know you will have a lot of questions about what this means for the future of your club, and we recognize those concerns.
While we do not have all the answers on what the future will look like across the youth soccer landscape, as the governing body of the sport in the United States we are committed to doing as much as we can to assist during these extremely challenging times.
In the absence of the Development Academy, we can all still take the lessons we have learned over the years and continue the implementation of high-quality player development environments across the country. Thanks to your hard work and collaboration, the Development Academy set the bar for elite player development. Finally, we have every confidence that all of our membership will work together to implement the Academy philosophy and standards that are important to provide players the best environments to reach their full potentials.
U.S. Soccer did confirm that they will continue to be engaged and active in the identification and scouting of youth players across the country for all our National Teams.
The bright side is following the news of the USSDA’s closure, MLS announced the launch of a new elite youth competition for MLS academy teams as well as non-MLS academy teams that previously participated in the Development Academy.