US Soccer announced in February that it would be launching a girls’ development academy in fall 2017 to go along with their DA program for boys. They have now released the names of the first 25 clubs that will join the program, including the Boston Breakers.
The Breakers will participate in the DA after going through an application process that was accepted by US Soccer technical staff. According to USSF’s press release, the criteria for evaluation were as follows:
- Leadership of the club and quality of the coaching staff
- Desire to embrace and promote the core values of the program
- U.S. Soccer license levels of coaching staff
- Infrastructure of the club and the resources currently being invested in development (facilities, scholarships, staff to player ratio, etc.)
- History of player production for Youth National Teams, the senior Women’s National Team and professional leagues
- Market and depth of the player pool, geographic location and travel implications and proximity to other elite clubs
DA clubs will combine age groups for U14/U15, U16/U17, and U18/U19. US Soccer says they will provide $1.49 million in scholarship funds.
The other NWSL clubs who will participate in the DA are the Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns, Seattle Reign, Sky Blue, and Washington Spirit. Most of these already have roots in local youth clubs, making it easier to come on board with the DA.
The full list of 25 teams is as follows:
Beach SC (Torrance, Calif.)
Boston Breakers (Watertown, Mass.)
CASL (Raleigh, N.C.)
Cincinnati Development Academy (Kings Hammer/CUP) (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Colorado Rush (Littleton, Co.)
Concorde Fire (Atlanta, Ga.)
Crossfire (Redmond, Wash.)
De Anza Force (Saratoga, Calif.)
FC Dallas (Frisco, Texas)
Real Colorado (Highlands Ranch, Co.)
LAFC-Slammers (Los Angeles, Calif.)
San Diego Surf (San Diego, Calif.)
Lamorinda (Moraga, Calif.)
Michigan Hawks (Livonia, Mich.)
Sky Blue FC-PDA (Bernardsville, N.J.)
Mustang (Danville, Calif.)
So Cal Blues (Rancho Capistrano, Calif.)
Orlando Pride/City SC (Orlando, Fla.)
Sockers FC (Palatine, Ill.)
Penn Fusion SA (Westtown, Pa.)
Seattle Reign (Seattle, Wash.)
Solar Chelsea SC (Dallas, Texas)
Portland Thorns (Portland, Ore.)
Washington Spirit (Boyds, Md.)
There has been some resistance to US Soccer creating their own development academy when club systems like ECNL or even good high school programs are already in place and seem to have created their own pathways to the top tiers of women’s soccer. Now players within the USSF DA system will no longer be allowed to play high school soccer and will be expected to train with their DA teams at least four times a week.
As for the other NWSL clubs not involved (Houston Dash, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, WNY Flash) USSF was slightly cagey with their wording, but the implication was that either not all clubs submitted a complete application or some applications were not as strong as others.
Boston certainly has developed a very robust youth system and has the local population to sustain it; time will tell if USSF’s DA for girls is actually strengthening the path to the senior national team or not.