It's easy to forget after almost two decades that one of the reasons that Major League Soccer was originally founded was to help grow the US Men's National Team. In that regard, the formation and quick growth of the MLS Academy system was always one of the biggest moments in the league's history.
It's going to continue growing steadily as the years go along, and the Colorado Rapids announced on Tuesday that they would be fully funded by the club in the future.
In addition to now being a fully self-sufficient academy funded by the club, they also announced that they would be adding a U-14 club into the mix, which already included a U-16 and a U-18 club. More growth in the academy -- specifically, more growth in the academy while Oscar Pareja is our fearless leader -- is never going to be a bad thing, and I'm excited to see how this affects the club's growth of youth in the future.
Currently, we only have the three homegrown guys -- Dillon Serna, Shane O'Neill, Davy Armstrong -- but how exciting would it be to know there's another several Sernas lying in wait? That's hopefully what we can look forward to in the next decade.
But the best part about all of this? Pay-to-play is hopefully soon going to be a thing of the past. There is almost certainly a wealth of talent out in the United States that is being untapped because they can't 'afford' to get into the professional ranks. This will hopefully change all of that, and I can't think of anything that will help out the growth of US soccer from the ground up than that. (Other than making incredibly talented athletes stop wasting their time with handegg, but something tells me we're a ways from that.)