I love hearing stories about team Academies building up and branching out across their home states. I have a good friend that he and I were just speaking to the topic of youth soccer in the southeast and obvious development holes local to where we live. Obviously this doesn’t really apply to the people of the greater the Northwest region, but it’s an issue in our country in general.
Tonight the Sounders-23 club (along with their W-League team) seem either on the verge or actually have finalized–I’m actually kind of confused as to which it is–an agreement with Washington Youth Soccer. Washington Youth Soccer, according to their press release, is the largest youth soccer organization in the state and a member of US Youth Soccer.
That’s cool, right? The first question is, obviously, what does this exactly mean? Here is an excerpt from the press release:
By entering into their new partnership with the Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 squads, Washington Youth Soccer can extend that development model to age 23 and beyond, helping players throughout Washington reach their highest potential in a healthy, sustainable way. Players in the Sounders FC/Washington Youth Soccer Elite Player Development program will enjoy increased access to training and matches for the Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 teams, and receive coaching from elite Sounders Women staff.
This means the Sounders are getting their eyes and their hands on younger players, helping them develop. Not to mention helping them train and offer technical support with coaches and trainers. This only increases their chance to spot those George Johns before they reach college and before they get into other teams.
I’m not shy in my belief that I think the majority of the team should be comprised by local talent and if needed supplemented by finding top level talent elsewhere. But the idea is to develop what you can internally and then seek outside support for whatever shortcomings happen to arise. Much like what has occurred in the Bundesliga over the past 10 years, MLS is putting an emphasis upon growing and producing local talent. Now, it’s hardly possible for the Sounders to go with a nearly home grown club at this stage, but it’s something to work towards.
Bottom line: This enables the club to make greater strides and push the academy developmental envelope further. Great move, even if it’s a kind of obvious and logical.