12 Clubs Make Academy Debuts

LANCASTER, Calif. – Twelve clubs got their first taste of the US Development Academy in the Academy’s Winter Showcase held last weekend.

For the new Academy clubs, the Winter Showcase was their first clear glimpse into the program and how it serves as a platform to provide educational opportunities to players, as well as exposing them to competition against the elite youth teams from across the nation. The 12 new clubs include eight from Texas, two in the San Francisco area, one in Los Angeles and one in New England.

“The part that is been most beneficial is the fact that we're competing against the best,” said Under-17/18 New England Revolution head coach Mario Prata, who went up against teams from Washington, North Carolina and Texas. “That alone makes the players better. The level of the games is always good and the players are forced to become the best that they can be.”

The Dallas Texans, who have long been of the best clubs in their region, now has the opportunity to play some of the best clubs in the nation on a regular basis.

“The competition is outstanding,” said Dallas Texans U-17/18 assistant coach David Hudgell. “It's what we expected and it's why we came into [the academy], to have the opportunity to play those teams on a regular basis. Obviously, you get better by playing the best teams.”

Along with playing competitive games, the new clubs are also finding that the structure of the matches – including the no re-entry rule and playing only one game a day – is also a key element to players’ development.

“Their preparation is something that I can see has improved tremendously,” said Texas SC U-17/18 head coach Scott Dymond. “I think they’re better players already because of it. This is a program that is for the players, to better the players. I think in other areas, it’s not necessarily geared towards what’s best for the players. Our kids now, they put so much effort into one game, they couldn’t turn around and play a second game like they normally would in these other tournaments. It’s great to be with the best clubs in the nation.”

For many clubs, even the travel has been a benefit for the players as they have to adjust to a different schedule and make sure they’re fully prepared to play competitive matches.

“(The Development Academy) has been so beneficial for the players and also for the coaches,” said Texas SC U-15/16 head coach Scott James. “We struggled a bit with the travel and playing this morning, so maybe it’s a learning process for us to get in a bit earlier. The experience of traveling, sleeping in a strange bed, playing in quality game after game, it’s new to them. Before, they would only do that if they made a national final or a regional final, and now we’re regularly getting the quality games. It’s only going to help the players in the long run.”

The players on the new clubs – along with every player at the Winter Showcase – were also observed by U.S. National Team Scouting Network and more than 250 college coaches who are in search of future talent.

The next large Development Academy event will be the Spring Showcase on Memorial Day Weekend from May 22-26, 2009, at the Sarasota Polo Grounds in Clearwater, Fla.

For the full results from the Development Academy’s Winter Showcase, click here.

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