U.S. Soccer’s Girls Development Academy in 2017
U.S. Soccer is starting a Girls Development Academy that is shaking up the girls’ soccer world. ECNL is in turmoil since losing its commissioner and is struggling to define itself. Will top players leave ECNL now that it’s downgraded a level to NPL? Will the top female soccer players turn, instead to the U.S. Soccer’s Girls Development Academy?
U.S. Soccer started its Development Academy Program for boys in 2007 and the program, which currently consists of 152 clubs across five age groups, serves as the elite player development model for the country and has significantly improved the everyday environment for players, coaches and clubs. The Girls’ DA will be structured with many of the same principles and will begin play in the fall of 2017. The application process for clubs interested in being part of the new program will open in May of 2016.
The guidelines for members will feature increased training requirements with fewer, but higher quality games. U.S. Soccer’s technical standards have been designed to benefit players and coaches, and allows clubs to work directly and collaboratively with U.S. Soccer technical staff and Youth National Teams. The overall focus of the program is to assist in developing world class players, coaches and referees by prioritizing training and player development within the team concept.
From the start, the program will feature three combined age groups in the Girls’ Development Academy: U-14/15, U-16/17 and U-18/19. Clubs will be expected to train a minimum of four times a week. The players in the Girls’ Development Academy clubs will play exclusively within the Academy program and will not play in any outside competition, such as ODP or high school. The use of combined age groups will require clubs to form teams with a balanced roster of players from two distinct birth years. The games will be scouted by U.S.Soccer and the program will serve as a pathway to U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams. from Soccer Wire
Part of the issue with ECNL was the uneven level of teams. Former ECNL coach and club executive in Connecticut, Anthony DiCicco, notes the challenges the ECNL Connecticut teams faced:
We didn’t win as many games as most of you.
Connecticut was tough – that’s another post for another time – but while the ECNL’s Northeast regional league benefited from two clubs who could serve as travel partners, it probably stretched the player pool too much. What’s going to happen now? Where are all these players going to come from to make up another top-tier league?
The bottom line is where will college coaches recruit from? With two leagues ECNL versus U.S. Soccer’s Girls Development Academy, can they cover twice as much territory? Anson Dorrance, college coach at University of North Carolina will follow the talent:
Assuming the new U.S. Soccer Girls Academy and the ECNL are dividing up the youth talent, we’re going to have to genuflect to both organizations if we want to effectively recruit.
We’re going to have to follow where the best players are wherever they happen to be. We’re going to have to make that adjustment as collegiate coaches, unquestionably.
While the FC Boston Scorpions are not going to pursue U.S. Soccer Girls Academy and stay with ECNL it seems, their ECNL teams are not ranked top 3 in Massachusetts (ranking from GotSoccer.com). And, Division 1 coaches don’t necessarily recruit by which league a player plays in; they recruit by going to certain tournaments.
What the top girls’ soccer teams in Massachusetts? The newest standings (September 2016) are here.
- SOUTH SHORE SELECT U13 ELITE
- GPS-MA NPL GIRLS 02/03
- AZTEC SOCCER GIRLS 02 NPL
- NEFC ELITE U13 GIRLS
- FC BOSTON SCORPIONS GU13 ECNL
- FC STARS OF MASS ECNL
- NEFC PREMIER NORTH U13 GIRLS
- FC STARS SOUTH UNITED 02/03
- CSU U13G NPL ELITE
- GPS MA METRO NORTH ELITE RED GIRLS 02/03
- SOUTH SHORE SELECT U14 ELITE
- NEFC ELITE U14 GIRLS
- GPS-MA NPL GIRLS 01/02
- FC BOSTON SCORPIONS GU14 ECNL
- FC STARS OF MASS ECNL
- NEFC PREMIER NORTH U14 GIRLS
- FC STARS OF MASS WEST UNITED 01/02 GIRLS
- FC BOSTON SCORPIONS NORTH U14 ELITE/NPL
- GPS MA METRO NORTH ELITE GIRLS 01/02
- FC BOSTON SCORPIONS GU14 NPL
- NEFC ELITE U15 GIRLS
- SOUTH SHORE SELECT U15 ELITE
- AZTEC SOCCER GIRLS 00 NPL
- FC STARS OF MASSACHUSETTS ECNL 00/01
- GPS-MA NPL GIRLS 00/01
- FC STARS OF MASS NORTH UNITED
- FC BOSTON SCORPIONS GU15 ECNL
- SPIRIT OF LIVERPOOL 2000 G REDS
- NEFC PREMIER NORTH U15 GIRLS
- CSU U15G NEP ELITE
- NEFC ELITE U16 GIRLS
- GPS-MA NPL GIRLS 99/00
- NEFC PREMIER NORTH U16 GIRLS
- FC STARS OF MASSACHUSETTS ECNL 99/00
- AZTEC SOCCER GIRLS 99 NPL
- NEW ENGLAND RUSH G99-00 RUSH
- FC STARS OF MASSACHUSETTS NPL
- FC BOSTON SCORPIONS GU16 NPL
- GPS BAYERN NATIONAL
- CSU U16G NEP ELITE
- NEFC ELITE U17 GIRLS
- FC STARS OF MASSACHUSETTS ECNL 98/99
- AZTEC SOCCER GIRLS 98 NPL BLACK
- NEW ENGLAND RUSH G98-99 RUSH
- SOUTH SHORE SELECT 98/99 ELITE
- NEFC PREMIER NORTH U17 GIRLS
- NOVA PREMIER SPARKS
- GPS-MA NPL GIRLS 98/99
- FC STARS OF MASSACHUSETTS NPL 98/99
- FC BOSTON SCORPIONS NORTH GU17E
- GPS-MA NPL GIRLS 97/98
- FC BLAZERS GIRLS 97/98
- FC STARS OF MASSACHUSETTS NPL 97/98
- AZTEC SOCCER GIRLS 97 NPL
- FC BOSTON SCORPIONS NORTH GU18E
- SOUTH SHORE SELECT 97/98 ELITE
- FC STARS OF MASSACHUSETTS ECNL 97/98
- NEW ENGLAND RUSH G97-98 RUSH
- WESTERN UNITED PIONEERS FC RED 97/98
- FC STARS OF MASSACHUSETTS CENTRAL UNITED
The question is what teams in Massachusetts will be invited to join the U.S. Soccer’s Girls Development Academy in 2017? My guess would be Breakers Academy’s new affiliation with NEFC indicates that NEFC would be chosen. If a second team is selected, it looks like South Shore Select would in contention as would GPS/NPL if they chose to switch leagues. But, who knows? Soccer is game of politics, after all!