Academy news won’t deter local soccer superpowers

Javanon and Mockingbird’s combined proposal to join the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Development Academy may not have been among those chosen for next season, but that will not deter them in their continuing bid for inclusion in the future.

Louisville’s biggest youth soccer clubs – which feature a number of southern Indiana players – have joined forces in an attempt to have two elite teams involved in what can best be described as a national super league.

After an extensive review process which involved more than 200 applicants across the nation, two Minnesota clubs were selected at the weekend to join the academy — Minnesota Thunder and Shattuck-St Mary’s.

Additionally, the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders will also field teams in 2010-11, as both Major League Soccer clubs have merged with local youth clubs to further player development.

U.S. Soccer said all clubs were evaluated to determine which ones had the best potential to generate future national team players. It was based on a number of categories, including geographic location, history of player production, coaching staff and administrative capabilities.

The Development Academy was created in 2007 in an effort to bring the game up to par with the rest of the world in terms of cultivating young talent. Focus is on developing the players rather than going after results, according to coaches.

The academy structure allows scouts identify a lot more players capable of becoming part of the national team pools, and long term it is hoped to change the quality of the player at all levels of American soccer.

However, it has also attracted some criticism as the nine month season, which starts in September, clashes with high school soccer in certain areas and prevents players kitting out for their HS teams. 

 There is a total of 77 top youth soccer clubs in the U.S. participating in the 2009-10 season. They field one team in each of the two academy mixed-age groups at U-15/16 and U-17/18 levels. 

Teams are divided into 10 geographically based divisions and play approximately 30 games a year, training at least three days a week during the season.

The top 32 teams in each age group advance to the playoffs, where they compete for one of eight spots in the academy finals week at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, which has been televised in the past on ESPN.

Althought the announcement was made on its website at the weekend (www.ussoccer.com), sources at Javanon and Mockingbird said they believed they would be notified of a decision on May 1.

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