The seventh season of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy includes perhaps its most integral change with the addition of an Under-13/14 age division.
For the first time since launching in 2007, the Development Academy has structured this lower-age group to further enhance its process of both developing players and scouting top-level talent. The U-13/14 age group aims to provide more players with a high quality training environment every day and limit the number of games for younger players to ensure a higher number of quality games. The new age group will also operate in a carefully designed competitive model that limits the amount of travel, provides more local training opportunities in the biggest markets and maintains low participation costs.
In March, U.S. Soccer announced the inclusion of 22 new clubs for this age group, with 12 based in California and 10 on the east coast to help minimize the amount of travel and costs for league play. Combined with many current Academy clubs that field U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams, there will be 88 teams participating in the U-13/14 age group.
The values will pay dividends on the U-14 Boy’s National Team level, where it will provide the opportunity to evaluate another 1,000 players on a daily basis. It will also help within the individual Academy clubs themselves. Many clubs have already had a pre-Academy structure in place, but adding meaningful games to the schedule and assuring that the best players are exposed to quality training every day in conjunction with the older age levels will bode well in the long run.
“It’s great to have everybody as part of the same system,” said New York Red Bulls U-17/18 head coach Paul O’Donnell. “Now there will be many days where we’ll have a tripleheader, where we’ll have a chance to see both the younger and older guys. That will be beneficial for us. We’ve always had our pre-Academy, but as a coaching staff sometimes we haven’t really seen a lot of the younger guys in games. Now with our schedule syncing up, it will be a lot easier during the course of the year, and we’ll continue pushing players up after seeing what they do at the younger age groups.”
- Season structure: The U-13/14 age group is focused strictly on development and does not incorporate standings or a postseason format. The fall season begins on the weekend of Sept. 7-8 and features teams in three different conferences and eight divisions The 2013-14 season also includes a winter futsal stage, spring period and various regional and national events.
- Game rules: International rules will be followed, including no reentry on substitutions. Games consist of two 40-minute halves.
- Training focus: As with the older age groups in the Development Academy, the emphasis is on increased training four times per week, with a minimum of one rest day, and meaningful games.
2013-14 ACADEMY U-13/14 FIELD:
EAST CONFERENCE (43 teams)
North Atlantic Division (10 teams): Baltimore Bays Chelsea, Bethesda-Olney, Continental FC DELCO, D.C. United, PA Classics, Philadelphia Union, Richmond Kickers, Richmond Strikers, Soccer Association of Columbia, Virginia Rush
Northeast Division (16 teams): Albertson SC, Beachside Connecticut SC, BW Gottschee Academy, FC Bolts Celtic, Everton FC Westchester, Match Fit Academy FC, Met Oval, NJSA 04, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, New York Soccer Club, Oakwood Soccer Club, Players Development Academy, Seacoast United, South Central Premier, World Class FC
Southeast Division (9 teams): Capital Area RailHawks Academy – CASL, Carolina Elite Soccer Academy, Charlotte Soccer Academy, Concorde Fire, Georgia United, North Carolina Alliance, North Carolina Fusion, North Meck SC, South Carolina United Battery Academy
Sunshine Division (8 teams): Boca United Football, Chargers Soccer Club, IMG Academy, Jacksonville FC, Kendall SC, Orlando City, Tampa Bay United, Weston FC
CENTRAL CONFERENCE (20 teams)
Frontier Division (9 teams): Andromeda FC, Classics Elite, Dallas Texans, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Lonestar SC Academy, Solar Chelsea SC, Texans SC Houston, Texas Rush
Mid-America Division (11 teams): Chicago Fire, Chicago Magic PSG, Crew Soccer Academy, Crew Soccer Academy Wolves, FC Wisconsin Nationals, Indiana Fire Academy, Internationals, Sockers FC, St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro, St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri, Vardar SC Freiburg
WEST CONFERENCE (25 teams)
Northwest Division (12 teams): Ballistic United Soccer Club, Cal Odyssey, De Anza Force, Diablo Futbol Club, Juventus Sport Club, Marin FC Alliance, Merced Atlas Soccer Academy, Placer United Soccer Club, San Jose Earthquakes, San Juan Soccer Club, San Mateo County Star FC, Santa Cruz Breakers Academy
Southwest Division (13 teams): Albion SC, Arsenal FC, Central Cal Aztecs, Chivas USA, FC Golden State, LA Galaxy, Los Angeles Futbol Academy, Nomads SC, Pateadores, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf, Santa Barbara Soccer Club, Strikers FC