Written by Will Parchman

carleton

We’ve been parroting for so long that the Development Academy is arriving, and not yet arrived, that it’s become something of a lengthy exercise in patience. It’s something like sitting in front of an oven with a pie inside it. If you don’t busy yourself with other matters, there’s always a tendency to pull it out of the heat too soon.

But the 2017 DA Finals over the weekend provided a glimpse into what’s baking in the oven. And it was a fairly impressive thing to behold on balance.

Continue reading

Tags:  | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

161029 US Soccer Development Academy stock

It’s your favorite time of year, kids, when Development Academy golazos rain down upon your face like so many raindrops drumming on a tin roof in summer.

U.S. Soccer is currently running its DA GOTY competition, which is open for voting through Wednesday. You can see those voting details here, and below is the list of candidates (each with a trusty hashtag, as we all must have). One, Shandon Hopeau, is already on a pro contract after signing with Sounders 2 in the USL earlier this year following a promising stint with the full team in the preseason.

Continue reading

Tags:  , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

earnit

Ever curious how it goes on a typical day inside an MLS academy? We’ve brought you one from RSL, and another from the San Jose Earthquakes. Now it’s the East Coast’s turn. The Philadelphia Union have you covered.

Ever since the opening of the YSC Academy in 2013, the club’s been on a steady upward trajectory with its academy apparatus. Today, the Union are widely considered one of the top 7 or 8 academies in MLS, partly because of the investment and mostly because it’s promoting a healthy brand of soccer mixed with a real pipeline to the first team under new-ish GM Earnie Stewart. There aren’t a ton of academies outside the established Big Four of RSL, LAG, RBNY and FCD with more resources.

That’s largely the focus of Philly’s new 20-minute documentary detailing how it goes for players inside this academy setup. From kids from outside the area piling into host family houses to locals boarding the train each day, it takes a village.

It’s well worth your time, whether you’re an academy head or not. If you’re looking to build a successful club, these represent some important first steps on the journey there.

Continue reading

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

padee

It perhaps has not been the ideal Generation adidas Cup from an MLS perspective. MLS sides won just one of the four Champions Division groups (all hail New York Red Bulls), which means only one of the four semifinalists will be repping the hosting domestic league. In the grand scheme, it’s not that big a deal. This is a developmentally-focused tournament, after all. But we’re dealing with competitive folks here. Wins are fun.

In any case, the marquee matchup of this event from the off was always FC Dallas and Real Madrid. Ironically, the two met on Wednesday with little of substance to actually play for; the relatively unheralded Independiente del Valle from Ecuador had already won the group and made the FCD-Real Madrid matchup about table scraps.

Continue reading

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

busio

Our boys IMG Top 150 class of 2020 is still rounding itself into a discernible shape. Most of these kids are, after all, still grinding away at the U16 level at the oldest. But it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for some of the top up-and-coming USYNT prospects, and your eyes might quickly alight on No. 5 after seeing this wicked golazo.

If you’ve never been acquainted, say hello to Sporting KC U16 maestro Gianluca Busio.

Continue reading

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

chels

File this one under “transfer rumors we didn’t see coming” in the Development Academy file cabinet.

The Houston Dynamo haven’t necessarily struggled to produce quality academy players. Names like Juan Flores and Christian Lucatero would’ve caught on most anywhere. The problem’s been in the professional translation. But even then, a Dynamo academy product getting looks from Europe? And Chelsea, at that? Someone appears to have some connections.

According to Tribal Football, Chelsea has its wide-sweeping purchasing lens on holding midfielder Kelechi Onyewuenyi, a Texas-born Nigerian-American who’s been in the Dynamo setup for a few years now. The Chelsea rumor mill quickly swept it to trumpet the news, and it’s now at a low thrum throughout the club’s underground internet transfer thresher. As if to add to the cacophony, All Nigeria Soccer called Onyewuenyi the “next Mikel,” and he’s reportedly on several other professional radars, including Rosenborg in Norway.

Perhaps the most interesting wrinkle in all this is how relatively unknown Onyewuenyi is on the broader national scene. Onyewuenyi seems to have spent the first two years of his latter youth career playing for Cinco Ranch High School before flipping to the Dynamo academy at the U16 age in 2015. His last act as a high school player may well have been a loss in the state title game nearly two years ago.

Of course the Dynamo are intimately familiar, and those coaches and players directly hooked into the DA system who’d played against Houston know his bonafides. But he’s hardly generated national buzz, and he’s only started three of the 13 games he’s played for the Dynamo U18s this season for one reason or another. The next Mikel? Maybe. But the Dynamo have certainly done a good job keeping him under wraps, if that’s the case.

In any event, Chelsea’s interest could be a passing thing, a small tidbit picked up by one of the internet’s voluminous echo chambers and shouted into existence from nothingness. Or it could augur the DA’s next big European jump. He turns 18 on March 15, so he can move unbidden by FIFA transfer rules imminently. Who knows.

From the Dynamo’s perspective, though, the heat just went from two to six. MLS doesn’t have a training compensation policy to funnel dollars back down to the organizations that developed its outbound players if they didn’t first sign a contract. That means if an academy player flies the coop without first signing a contract (like FCD’s Weston McKennie to Schalke, for instance) the parent club gets zilch. The result is that MLS clubs are (or should be) desperate to sign their promising prospects to deals as early as possible. At least they’ll garner a transfer fee in that case, if nothing else.

The result, though, is an uncomfortable squeeze on the player. Sign and be true to your club but subjected to the whims of MLS, or push aside a contract and leap for free, knowing your academy is being left holding only its hat in hand? Onyewuenyi may have come out of nowhere, but we could soon learn his answer.

Tags:  , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

mnufc

Minnesota United took its time. It ultimately eschewed the approach Atlanta United took with its academy system and hewed more closely to NYCFC’s tack. But either way, Minnesota United is now officially on the Development Academy radar.

Continue reading

Tags:  , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

fcd

The Development Academy showcase is currently running through its paces in Florida, which means a collection of the nation’s brightest young stars are currently throwing hands in front of sidelines choked with scouts.

One of the most anticipated of those games was the Red Bulls-FC Dallas U18 match on the opening Thursday of the event. The two are routinely the most talent-laden academies over the last three years, and FCD’s 2016 national title sweep proves they’re the kings of the castle for now. The game duly didn’t disappoint, the sides struggling to a 1-1 conclusion that fairly reflected the evenness of the talent levels.

The way they tied? That was a bit unique.

Continue reading

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

ATL

Each time a new academy star is birthed, twinkling into existence in the Development Academy’s firmament, the rest of the country stops for a brief moment to take stock. This is a moment for external analysis (Are They Going To Make Us Look Bad) and introspection (Are They Really Making Us Look Bad).

Continue reading

Tags:  , , | Leave a comment
Written by Will Parchman

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls

Real Salt Lake isn’t exactly hurting for academy cred. The Casa Grande, Arizona-based RSL academy routinely attracts and develops some of the country’s most impressive groupings of talent anywhere. RSL currently has six active Homegrowns in its senior team, a number topped only by FC Dallas’s seven.

And that’s not to mention the yeoman’s work RSL did in shaping academy posterboy Brooks Lennon, who leaped straight from the team’s record-breaking U18 academy side to Liverpool last year.

Continue reading

Tags:  , | Leave a comment