The US Soccer Development Academy has instituted a new 10 month long season for their elite Development Academy Club Season. This new schedule will take effect for the 2012/13 season and will impact college soccer recruiting immediately. If you want to play at the NCAA D1 level, it almost forces you to play for a US Soccer Development team.
*image from http://academy.demosphere.com/
US Soccer Development Academy teams are the elite club soccer teams for U15/16 and U17/18 soccer players across the country. There are over 3,000 players, across the 78 club teams and 10 regions. These are highly competitive clubs, where the best young soccer players travel the country playing in the biggest tournaments. According to the US Soccer Development Academy, this change allows more time to focus on development of players, increase the time between games for player’s health and safety and get the most committed young soccer players into a training system that will make the US more competitive at the international level.
It is nothing new that the best players are playing with the US Development system. Originally, these develop leagues played a much shorter season, allowing players to play at the high school level or even other sports. From the perspective of college coaches, there will not be a substantial change. They will still recruit from the same powerhouse clubs and attend the same key showcases each year. These changes are going to impact recruits and families the most.
Here, are the Biggest Take Home Messages From a Recruiting Perspective:
- If you want to play NCAA D1 soccer, you are going to have to play for these elite clubs. Not every athlete who plays D1 will play for a US Soccer Dev. team and not every US Soccer Dev. team player will play for a D1 college. However, the vast majority of NCAA D1 players will come from these clubs.
- High school soccer will lose relevance in the eyes of college coaches. It won’t happen overnight, but with the elite young soccer players playing full-time at the club level, the standard of high school soccer will drop. With this drop, the attention given to club soccer will go too.
- Families need to identify where the elite clubs are and make the necessary sacrifices to be part of these clubs (see the map below).
- You are going to have to decide at a young age if you think soccer is the sport you want to play exclusively. These clubs have U15 teams, meaning if you will need to decide around the age of 13,14 or 15 that you are committed to playing soccer full time.