U.S. Soccer
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NWSL and Development Academy Connection Creates a Pathway for Young Talent

The launch of the U.S. Soccer Girls Development Academy this September marked a crucial step in the acceleration of the development of young female soccer players across the United States by establishing a pathway for the highest level of elite girls’ soccer in the country.

Out of the 69 clubs chosen to be part of the first season of the Academy, several have a direct tie-in with the National Women’s Soccer League, which provides these young girls a chance to have firsthand experience and train alongside professional soccer players, which includes several U.S. Women’s National Team members as well as other international players. These clubs are: Boston Breakers, Houston Dash, Orlando Pride, NC Courage, Portland Thorns, Seattle Reign, Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit (Virginia and Maryland).

While the Boys’ Academy has long served as a pathway between youth club and the professional level, the Girls’ Academy is in the early stages of guiding players up the pathway in similar fashion, with girls having the opportunity to play for their home teams and in front of their home crowds if they are able to craft a career in professional soccer.

“Everything starts with developing players so if we have a clear path that can start in the Academy, and the players know that if they work their way up they could end up being a professional, that’s terrific,” said U-16/17 Boston Breakers head coach Rolando Lopes. “It’s a pyramid and this is an important stage of that pyramid.”

“For girls, it’s a bit of a different route, as college does come into play, which it should, but if we can produce players, have them go to college, train with us during the summers and then come back home and be part of the Thorns, that’s an enormous advantage for these girls,” said U-18/19 Portland Thorns head coach Kyle Steinbaugh. 

Set to enter its sixth year of existence in 2018, the NWSL has become the most competitive league for women’s professional soccer in the world where players from all over the world have come to test themselves against the top talent in the game. 

For the 2017 NWSL champion Portland Thorns, the connection between a top league and a chance to develop the future generation in their Academy has built a bridge, making all the players feel like they’re part of the team, no matter the age of the player.

“In a place like Portland, we have a lot going on and a lot of momentum. We have the benefit of the facilities, the benefit of the organization – obviously, the Thorns and the Timbers, are incredible organizations – and we have the support of the Riveters,” Steinbaugh said. “Our girls also have opportunities to train with Christine Sinclair, Tobin Heath – who is also an Assistant Youth Technical Director in the Thorns Academy – and Lindsey Horan, etc. There’s just a terrific connection between our full NWSL side and our Academy.”

“The launch of the DA has been a great step towards a pathway leading to the top of women’s soccer. Like for us, it means that top players in our area will start coming to our Academy, and if we have the best players in our area, hopefully one day if they work hard, they can also play for Boston,” Lopes said. “That’s a possibility we now have, to flow top talent to the pro team.”

Additionally, the NWSL Academies offer their girls a unique prospect of imagining themselves on the field, on the biggest of stages.

“We attended some Breakers games this year and to see those pro players [like Rose Lavelle] wearing the same color jersey and the same number that our girls wear is very positive,” Lopes said. “Watching their role models motivates and helps them understand that if they work hard and keep going, they could also be there one day.”

The Academy Program focuses on positively impacting everyday club environments to assist in maximizing youth player development across the country. The Academy values individual development of elite players over winning trophies and titles. The Academy sets the standard for elite environments for youth soccer clubs nationwide and is a part of U.S. Soccer's global leadership position in youth soccer that will impact thousands of players.

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ACADEMY Dec 11, 2017

Five Things to Know About the 2017 U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy Winter Showcase

From Dec. 6-10 players from 68 U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy Clubs will compete at Lakewood Ranch, Fla., during the 2017 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase.

Here are Five Things you should know about one of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy's premier annual events.

Showcase Explained
Entering its 11th year of existence, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase brings all full Academies together for a series of games at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. from Nov. 30-Dec. 11. With the launch of the Girls’ Development Academy earlier this fall, this will be the first time the event will include a Girls’ Winter Showcase to go along with a Boys’ Winter Showcase, with the former taking place from Dec. 6-11. 

The event gives the U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 teams from each Academy Club three competitive games apiece against opposition they wouldn't normally face during divisional play in the regular season. The crossover games are selected based on opposition, style of play, location and other factors to ensure the most meaningful games. The results count towards the overall regular season standings as part of a 10-month season that culminates with the Academy Championships next July.

A Chance to Be Seen
With 315 games taking place over the course of five days, the U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy Winter Showcase offers ample opportunity for talent identification.

On the Development Academy side, each game is scouted and evaluated by a U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor or Scout, while the Federation's entire Youth National Team staff will also be on site for talent identification opportunities to evaluate current YNT pool players as well as players for future camps.

The Winter Showcase is a prime spot for college recruiting with over 300 scouts pre-registered for the 2017 event, hailing from all NCAA Divisions (200+ from Division 1 schools).

Since the start of the inaugural Girls’ Development Academy season in September 2017, 70% of the players called into Women’s Youth National Team camps are rostered full-time in the Girls’ Academy Clubs.

Featured Games Streamed Live
Can't make it to Florida for the event? Check it out online as the U.S. Soccer Development Academy features six prime matchups live streamed through the Development Academy Facebook Page, U.S. Soccer YouTube Channel and on ussoccerda.com.

Check out the schedule below. Links will be made available 24 hours prior to kick-off on usssoccerda.com and twitter @ussoccer_acad.

Age Group

Date

Matchup

Time (ET)

U-15

Dec. 6

San Diego Surf vs. Sockers FC

11:30 a.m.

U-15

Dec. 6

Concorde Fire vs. Lonestar SC Academy

2:30 p.m.

U-16/17

Dec. 8

Boston Breakers Academy vs. Portland Thorns FC

12 p.m.

U-18/19

Dec. 8

Real Colorado vs. Crossfire Premier

2:15 p.m.

U-16/17

Dec. 10

Solar Soccer Club vs. Washington Spirit Academy

11 a.m.

U-18/19

Dec. 10

NTH Tophat vs. Penn Fusion Soccer Academy

1 p.m.

Academy Directors Meeting
On December 8, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy will host a meeting with all the Girls’ Academy Directors from around the country.

Collaborating with Academy leadership, Technical Advisors and Women's Youth National Team coaches, Club Directors and coaches will benefit from the opportunity to share ideas with one another, receive practical education and engage in meaningful discussion. The meeting will also include information on programming, club standards and data on observations and trends of the Girls Development Academy.

Partnering with Nike International Friendlies
Another benefit of this week will be the integration of the Winter Showcase and the Nike Friendlies. The event will mark the first time the Women’s Nike International Friendlies will take place in conjunction with the Girls’ Development Academy Winter Showcase. The Women’s Nike International Friendlies is a round-robin tournament which will feature the U.S. U-20 WNT and the U-20 WNTs of Brazil, England and Finland. The combined events highlight the cohesion between the Development Academy Member Clubs and the Youth National Teams.

This year, the U.S. U-20 WNT will take on England (Dec. 7; 6:30 p.m. ET), Finland (Dec. 9; 6:30 p.m. ET) and Brazil (Dec. 11; 6:30 p.m. ET). All six Nike International Friendlies games will be streamed via U.S. Soccer’s Facebook Page, U.S. Soccer’s YouTube Page and ussoccer.com. 

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ACADEMY U-20 WNT Dec 5, 2017

Five Things to Know About the 2017 U.S. Soccer Boys' Development Academy Winter Showcase

Beginning Thursday, players from 76 U.S. Soccer Boys’ Development Academy Clubs will descend on Lakewood Ranch, Fla., for the 2017 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase.

Here are five things you should know about one of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy's premier annual events.

What it is

Entering its 11th year of existence, the U.S. Soccer Boys’ Development Academy Winter Showcase brings all full Academies together for a series of games at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. from Nov. 30-Dec. 4.

The event gives the U-16/17 and U-18/19 teams from each Member Club three competitive games apiece against opposition they wouldn't normally face during divisional play in the regular season. The crossover games are selected based on level of resistance, style of play, location and other factors to ensure the most meaningful games. The results count towards the overall regular season standings as part of a 10-month season that culminates with the Academy Championships next July.

Additionally, this year’s Boys’ event will be followed by the first U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy Winter Showcase, running from Dec. 6-10 in Lakewood Ranch.

A Place to Be Seen

With 228 games taking place over the course of five days, the U.S. Soccer Boys’ Development Academy Winter Showcase offers ample opportunity for talent identification.

On the Development Academy side, each game is scouted and evaluated by a U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor or Scout, while the Federation's entire Youth National Team staff is also on site for talent identification opportunities for future camps. 

The Winter Showcase is a prime spot for college recruiting with over 400 scouts pre-registered for the 2017 event, hailing from all NCAA Divisions (250+ from Division 1 schools), with additional domestic and foreign professional clubs scheduled to attend.

Featured Games Streamed Live

Can't make it to Florida for the event? Check it out online, as the U.S. Soccer Development Academy has expanded its coverage this year to feature six prime matchups live streamed through the Development Academy Facebook Page and U.S. Soccer YouTube Channel.

Check out the schedule below. Links will be made available 24 hours prior to kick-off on www.ussoccerda.com and on twitter @ussoccer_acad.

Age Group

Date

Matchup

Time (ET)

U-18/19

Nov. 30

Strikers FC vs. FC Greater Boston Bolts

11 a.m.

U-18/19

Nov. 30

Colorado Rapids vs. Crossfire Premier

2 p.m.

U-16/17

Dec. 2

Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders FC

11 a.m.

U-16/17

Dec. 2

FC Golden State vs. Sockers FC

2 p.m.

U-16/17

Dec. 4

Pateadores vs. Chargers Soccer Club

9 a.m.

U-16/17

Dec. 4

FC Dallas vs. New York City FC

11:15 a.m.

Academy Director Course

Prior to the start of the Winter Showcase, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy is hosting a module of the course as part of a 12-month program to further the development of some of the top Academy Directors from around the country.

Participants in the course benefit from the opportunity to work with other Academy leaders and receive practical experience and engage in meaningful discussion around all aspects of the process of developing an Academy Club. This week features experts leading discussions on: teaching, leadership, periodization, mentoring and Youth National Teams. The course will aim to have Academy Directors build their leadership roles on and off the field at their respective clubs and become a coach not only of players, but of coaches in their own organizations.

Partnering with Nike International Friendlies

The Boys’ Development Academy Winter Showcase runs concurrently with the long-standing Nike International Friendlies, a round-robin tournament which the U.S. U-17 MNT has hosted since 2002. Having seen a long list of great players from around the world play in the tournament, the combined event highlights the cohesion between the Development Academy Member Clubs and the Youth National Teams.

This year, the U.S. U-17s face off with England (Nov. 29; 7 p.m. ET), Netherlands (Dec. 1; 7 p.m. ET) and Brazil (Dec. 3; 5 p.m. ET). Like the six featured games at the Development Academy Winter Showcase, all six Nike International Friendlies games will also be streamed via Facebook and YouTube.

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ACADEMY Nov 28, 2017

2017 Men's and Women's Nike International Friendlies, DA Winter Showcase to Take Place Nov. 29-Dec. 11

CHICAGO (Nov. 14, 2017) – The 2017 Men’s and Women’s Nike International Friendlies and U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase will take place at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Florida from Nov. 29-Dec. 11.

In the 15th edition of the Men’s Nike Friendlies, the USA will take on its U-17 counterparts from Brazil, England and Netherlands. The tournament will feature players born in the year 2002 or after whose goal is to represent their countries at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

In the first Women’s Nike International Friendlies held in conjunction with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase, the U.S. U-20 WNT will face Brazil, England and Finland. The USA, Brazil and England will bring players born in 1998 or later while Finland will feature players born in 1997 and later. The USA and Brazil will use the tournament to further preparations for qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France. England has already qualified while Finland did not earn a berth to the tournament.

The tournaments will feature six doubleheaders, with the USA playing in the evening games on each match day. The U-17 MNT will face England on Nov. 29, Netherlands on Dec. 1 and finish against Brazil on Dec. 3. The U-20 WNT will take on England on Dec. 7, Finland on Dec. 9 and will end the competition against Brazil on Dec. 11.

The early game of the first two U-17 match days will kick-off at 3:30 p.m. ET with the USA game following at 7 p.m. ET. The third match day will feature a 1:30 p.m. ET kick-off for the first game, followed by the USA match at 5 p.m. ET. For the U-20 match days, all three match days will see 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. kickoff times.

All matches will be broadcast on ussoccer.com.

2017 Men’s Nike International Friendlies Schedule

Wednesday, Nov. 29
Brazil vs. Netherlands, 3:30 p.m. ET
USA vs. England, 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Dec. 1
England vs. Brazil, 3:30 p.m. ET
USA vs. Netherlands, 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, Dec. 3
Netherlands vs. England, 1:30 p.m. ET
USA vs. Brazil, 5 p.m. ET

2017 Women’s Nike International Friendlies Schedule

Thursday, Dec. 7
Brazil vs. Finland, 3 p.m. ET
USA vs. England, 6:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, Dec. 9
England vs. Brazil, 3 p.m. ET
USA vs. Finland, 6:30 p.m. ET

Monday, Dec. 11
Finland vs. England, 3 p.m. ET
USA vs. Brazil, 6:30 p.m. ET

The Development Academy Winter Showcase will once again take place alongside the Nike Friendlies at Premier Sport Campus and will include 76 Under-16/17 and 72 Under-18/19 Boys’ Academy clubs and 69 clubs from each of the three Girls’ Academy age groups: Under-15, Under-16/17 and Under-18/19. There will be featured Academy showcase games streamed live in addition to the Nike Friendlies, with the Nov. 30, Dec. 2 and Dec. 4 Boys’ schedule and Dec. 6, 8 and 10 Girls’ matchups to be announced on ussoccerda.com.

The U.S. U-17 MNT won the Nike International Friendlies most recently in 2016, while England took home the championship in 2015. England and Netherlands last attended the Nike Friendlies in 2015. Furthermore, Brazil has attended the tournament every year since 2006, in addition to a 2003 appearance.

The Friendlies have featured a number of players throughout the years who went on to play for the senior MNT, including Christian Pulisic, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley. International players such as Brazil’s Neymar and Marcelo, the Netherlands’ Memphis Depay, and many others have also played in the well-regarded international tournament.

The U-20 U.S. WNT has had an excellent year of preparation, taking three trips to Europe – to Spain, England and Germany – while conducting three domestic training camps, one of which included two games against the Japan U-20 WNT. The Nike Friendlies will mark the final international matches of the year for the U.S. team, but it will convene in Florida for a training camp at the end of the year. That will be the last preparation before the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship being held in Trinidad & Tobago from Jan. 18-28.

At that tournament, the USA was drawn into Group B with Nicaragua, Mexico and the first-place finisher from the Caribbean pre-qualifying. The top three finishers qualify for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France.

The Nike Friendlies began in 2001 to provide top-level competition for Men’s Youth National Teams, and has become a premier annual event for youth soccer. In 2008, U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy Winter Showcase joined forces with the Nike Friendlies, and the combined event highlights the cohesion between the Development Academy Member Clubs and the Youth National Teams. In the 2016-17 cycle, 92% of all Boys’ and Men’s Youth National Team players were products of Development Academy clubs. Since the start of the inaugural Girls’ Development Academy season in September 2017, 70% of the players called into Women’s Youth National Team camps are rostered full-time in the Girls’ Academy. The U.S. Talent Identification Network will include YNT staff, Technical Advisors and U.S. Soccer Scouts who will cover each of the 541 games, 226 Boys’ games and 315 Girls’ games, to identify and evaluate players from across the country.

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U-17 MNT U-20 WNT ACADEMY Nov 14, 2017
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