U.S. Soccer Girls’ Academy Announces Clubs
U.S. Soccer Girls’ Academy Announces Clubs avatar

The first 25 member clubs in the new U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy were announced on Thursday, with the program modeled on the Development Academy Program for boys which got its start in 2007 and has since grown to include 152 clubs in five age groups.

The boys academy has come under a lot of criticism. (ISI Photos/Robin Alam)

The boys academy has come under a lot of criticism. (ISI Photos/Robin Alam)

The success of the boys academy is a near continual source of debate among the U.S. public but the organization is confident in the model, saying in remarks released in February that, “U.S. Soccer Development Academy has served as the elite male youth player development model for the country and has significantly improved the everyday environment for players, coaches, referees, and clubs.”

The program, again via U.S. Soccer, “will focus on positively impacting everyday club environments to maximize elite female youth player development. Increasing the training to game ratio, playing fewer but more meaningful games and providing assistance for coaching education and development are just some of the standards and best practices the program will promote.”

Heinrich (ISI Photos/Jose L. Argueta)

Heinrich explained the clear goals for the program. (ISI Photos/Jose L. Argueta)

U.S. Soccer Women’s Technical Director April Heinrichs explained the program’s goals in that same February announcement. “In support of U.S. Soccer’s long-term plan for player and coach development, launching a Girls’ Development Academy is part of an unprecedented commitment to elevating the women’s game.” Heinrichs continued, “This program will directly impact the everyday environment for clubs and further connect players and coaches to our National Teams. From a program perspective, we will educate both players and coaches on position-specific roles, physical and psychosocial planning and preparation, current coaching methodologies and the use of sport science and technology.”

Six clubs from the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) will be part of the initial 25 members of the U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy. The six are the Boston Breakers, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC and Washington Spirit.

NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said in a statement released by the league, “we are very excited to have six clubs as a part of the initial group designated to participate in the Girls Development Academy.” “It is important,” Plush went on, “for us to be supportive of our clubs throughout this ongoing process of establishing a setting for the development of world-class female players.”

The league’s four remaining clubs have the option of joining the Academy in the future if they decide to do so.

(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The GDA will begin in the fall of 2017.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The GDA will begin play in the fall of 2017 in three combined age groups: U14/15, U16/17, and, U18/19. According to U.S. Soccer, “clubs will be expected to train a minimum of four times a week. The use of combined age groups will require clubs to form teams with a balanced roster of players from two distinct birth years.” The statement adds that, “the games will be scouted by U.S. Soccer and the program will serve as the primary pathway to the Youth National Teams.”

Here are the original 25 members of the Girls’ Development Academy. More announcements are expected soon.

Beach SC (Calif.)
Boston Breakers (Mass.)
CASL (N.C.)
Cincinnati Development Academy (Kings Hammer/CUP) (Ohio)
Colorado Rush (Colo.)
Concorde Fire (Ga.)
Crossfire (Wash.)
De Anza Force (Calif.)
FC Dallas (Texas)
LAFC Slammers (Calif.)
Lamorinda (Calif.)
Michigan Hawks (Mich.)
Mustang (Calif.)
Tophat NTH (Ga.)
Orlando Pride (Fla.)
Penn Fusion SA (Penn.)
Portland Thorns (Ore.)
Real Colorado (Colo.)
San Diego Surf (Calif.)
Seattle Reign (Wash.)
Sky Blue – PDA (N.J.)
So Cal Blues (Calif.)
Sockers FC (Ill.)
Solar Chelsea SC (Texas)
Washington Spirit Academy (Md.)

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
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2 Responses to U.S. Soccer Girls’ Academy Announces Clubs
U.S. Soccer Girls’ Academy Announces Clubs avatar

  1. Lee Holden says:

    The news of these clubs is fantastic and a very bright future for female soccer. I am huge soccer fan and coach/train youth and I do feel that the east coast need to focus more on this and use it in a positive way and reach out to more advanced clubs to obtain excellence in our females today or up coming. From the list, east coast is only being represented by 2 clubs compared to west coast. Why is this? does the east coast need to obtain more representatives to scout out more talent?

    Coming from the UK, we scout our players at a very young age and support the youth to drive them to become their dream player. Many clubs that I have trained here on the east coast, I have noticed that the elite clubs are mainly about their name and high fees. Could this also be an issue with the lack of interest from the east coast? Possibly!!

    • Jack L says:

      The current structure of the ECNL is very appropriate for female soccer athletes. I have had the privilege of observing players at numerous age groups within the ECNL over the past 8 years with a true appreciation for the variability that comes from each club/team/age group. It is in the diversification that breeds higher levels of talent along with the exceptional coaching that I have witnessed as a parent to two ECNL daughters that have successfully been part of this great league (now both graduated). There should be more collaboration (and quite frankly more willingness to compromise by U.S. Soccer) with the ECNL which has a very female-athlete-centric focus. I have never heard the term “psychosocial planning” before, but if that means everyone has to be exactly on the same page at every step of the way, then count me out. Our country’s greatness was built on diversified thinking from many backgrounds and cultures. It is impossible to think that you can have everyone be exactly aligned for playing the game of soccer. I wonder if Mallory Pugh learned psychosocial planning behavior from high school soccer, or was she just born with it? I am not sure any sense to can be made with U.S. Soccer’s arguments except to say that U.S. Soccer is way too late to the arrival of taking an interest in the female soccer player development (inasmuch as it was a thought for some time) by simply using a few argumentative topics to clear the way for a whole new league that many girls will have not interest in participating. Mallory Pugh is a product of her family, the ECNL, her high school, and her God-Given Gift for soccer talent, and let’s not forget that. Sound more like a dictate with a top-down approach that leaves much to be suspect about as a parent…..with the lure of big hopes to be selected to the U.S. Team. C’mon. Now, who is being naïve. We parents may not be expert soccer players, but we’re also not that stupid either. How did Holland work out with all the rules pushed down their throats?

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