CHICAGO (Sept. 20, 2011) — With the 2011 Development Academy Season now underway, U.S. Soccer has announced that the 2011 Development Academy Winter Showcase and Nike International Friendlies will be held at Premier Sports Campus in Sarasota, Fla. in early December.
All 78 Academy clubs will travel to Florida for three games of non-Conference play during the Winter Showcase, which will take place from Dec. 2-6. The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, whose current roster features 24 players representing Academy clubs, will face off against Brazil, France and Turkey during the Nike International Friendlies from Nov. 30-Dec. 4.
The 2011 Development Academy Winter Showcase will feature every team for the first time in the 2011-12 season, including Academy newcomers Georgia United and Vancouver Whitecaps. Teams will alternate match dates, with some teams kicking off on Friday, Dec. 2 and wrapping up play Monday, Dec. 5, while others will play Saturday, Dec. 3, through Tuesday, Dec. 6. Detailed schedule information will be available closer to the event.
The event in Sarasota will mark the ninth Nike International Friendlies, previously called the Nike National Team Friendlies, since 2003. The U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team has participated in all nine competitions while Brazil will be appearing for the seventh time, Turkey for the third time and France for the first time.
The 2011 Academy season kicked off this weekend with 50 games, but there were eight games last weekend as four clubs began their season. U.S. Soccer director of scouting Tony Lepore took time to talk to ussoccer.com about the upcoming season, including changes from last season and the increased ties between the Academy and the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Since its launch in the fall of 2007, the Academy has provided an increased focus on training and player development by providing a clear connection between the U.S. National Teams and more than 4,000 young players across the country. Top youth coaches and players have direct access to U.S. Soccer staff on a regular basis through the structured programming overseen by U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna.
The Academy also provides opportunities for the country’s top referees to be identified and trained in a positive learning environment under the direction of U.S. Soccer’s Referee Department.