LAFC Slammers accepted to US Soccer Girls’ Development Academy

From US Soccer:

CHICAGO (June 30, 2016) – U.S. Soccer has announced the first 25 clubs that will be a part of the Girls’ Development Academy, an initiative designed to accelerate the development of world-class female players. The new program, which will begin play in the fall of 2017, will be comprised of this first group of clubs that are among the most elite in the United States.

The program 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.

Since 2007, the 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 Girls’ Development Academy will be structured with many of the same principles and will begin play in the fall of 2017.

“Launching a Girls’ Development Academy is part of an unprecedented commitment to elevating the women’s game,” said U.S. Soccer Women’s Technical Director April Heinrichs. “The Development Academy program will offer clubs support and education to positively impact the development of players and coaches throughout the country.”

“We all know how important it is to create the correct environment and expectations for elite player development, something that was highlighted for me during my time as Development Director for our youth Women’s National Teams,” said U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis. “The Development Academy is an important step forward to continue the growth of the women’s game in the United States, and to create the best pathway for players to reach their full potential.”

The following 25 clubs are the first being admitted to the Girls’ Development Academy with more announcements taking place in the near future.

U.S. Soccer is excited to welcome the following clubs:

Beach SC (Torrance, Calif.) FC Dallas (Frisco, Texas) Real Colorado (Highlands Ranch, Co.)
Boston Breakers (Watertown, Mass.) LAFC-Slammers (Los Angeles, Calif.) San Diego Surf (San Diego, Calif.)
CASL (Raleigh, N.C.) Lamorinda (Moraga, Calif.) Seattle Reign (Seattle, Wash.)
Cincinnati Development Academy (Kings Hammer/CUP) (Cincinnati, Ohio) Michigan Hawks (Livonia, Mich.) Sky Blue FC-PDA (Bernardsville, N.J.)
Mustang (Danville, Calif.) So Cal Blues (Rancho Capistrano, Calif.)
Colorado Rush (Littleton, Co.) Orlando Pride/City SC (Orlando, Fla.) Sockers FC (Palatine, Ill.)
Concorde Fire (Atlanta, Ga.) Penn Fusion SA (Westtown, Pa.) Solar Chelsea SC (Dallas, Texas)
Crossfire (Redmond, Wash.) Portland Thorns (Portland, Ore.)  Washington Spirit (Boyds, Md.)
De Anza Force (Saratoga, Calif.) Tophat NTH (Atlanta, Ga.)

These first 25 clubs have a total of 119 staff and coaches that hold a U.S. Soccer A or B Coaching License, and includes 91 coaches who are employed on a fulltime basis.  To date, these clubs have produced 307 players for U.S. Soccer’s National Teams (youth and senior) as well as 84 professional soccer players. In addition, this group will be providing 276 full scholarships with a total of $1.49 million of scholarship funds being contributed.

Club applications were evaluated and accepted by U.S. Soccer’s technical staff based on the following criteria:

  • 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

The program will feature three combined age groups: U-14/15, U-16/17 and U-18/19. 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 games will be scouted by U.S. Soccer and the program will serve as the primary pathway to the Youth National Teams.

In addition to combining the most elite players from each birth year to form the mixed age group player pool, coaches will be encouraged to play their players “up” on an older age team within the club to help accelerate development.

The competitive framework will focus on the core values of the program, which emphasizes quality coaching and teaching in a positive learning environment for players with zero tolerance for poor behavior from coaches.