May 31, 2007
New USSF youth plan would decrease reliance on ODP

The U.S. Soccer Federation looks set to dramatically decrease its dependence
on the Olympic Development Program, which is run by the state associations and
U.S. Youth Soccer. According to Washington Post reporter
Steven Goff, the Federation is creating a nationwide academy program and a national youth league for teenage boys that will involve up to 2,400 players at both the U-15 and U-18 age groups. "The federation plans to identify 60 to 80 youth clubs across the country," reports Goff. "Those clubs will then select players from the under-15 and under-18 age groups to participate in the academy."

Academy teams will play in a regionally structured national league in which the U-16 national team will compete. Goff reports that the plan,
reportedly approved by the U.S. Soccer Federation's board of directors, encourages each MLS club to field teams; that national team coaches will scout the games; and that teams will play a 36- to 38-game schedule, plus friendlies.

America's youth soccer landscape already includes national championships run by
U.S. Youth Soccer (cup and league), U.S. Club Soccer, the Super Y-League, and
Red Bull -- plus a myriad showcase tournaments. The USSF's ambitious move
into the grassroots level of player development has long had many advocates, but it will also further heat up what we call American youth soccer's Turf War.