When U.S. Soccer announced that they had decided to discontinue the Development Academy, effective immediately on April 15th, the soccer community was shocked. The organization said the “incredibly difficult decision” was a result of the “extraordinary and 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 into the future.”
What does this mean for our national teams? For our club development academies?
While the first question will likely be answered in the coming months as soccer gets going again, the Colorado Rapids’ Development Academy Technical Director Chris Cartlidge shared his view of the situation with ColoradoRapids.com.
Despite the sudden decision and “even the guys working at the highest levels of MLS did not see this one coming,” he said that “MLS has basically stepped in to fill the void and provide a new, competitive platform moving forward.”
He doesn’t sound concerned about what’s to come, adding that so far MLS has told him that they are keeping the “same structure, for age groups under-13 to under-19” and “we’re actually expecting an announcement this week with a little bit more about the structure, but what is really exciting, is I think MLS has a clear focus of making a clear pro pathway for these guys.”
Cartlidge has been with the club since 2015 and explained that “MLS has been talking to the federation for a number of years about what they think are the next steps for developing the game in this country. It’s probably too early to say exactly what those agenda items that will be put into place now versus the future. But you’ll see a change, and I think it’ll be an exciting change. Something that really supports those young, talented guys, with aspirations to play at the top level.”
With the signings of players like Kortne Ford, Sam Vines, and Cole Bassett in the past few years, the Rapids have made some great progress with youth development and have had some real talent come out of the DA. Hopefully things continue on the same path, regardless of who is overseeing the program.
Do you think this will have much of an impact on the youth programs in MLS?