Fred Lipka - Speaking to academy goalkeepers

The youth development landscape in the US was thrown into a state of flux on Wednesday when U.S. Soccer announced it will be disbanding its Development Academy league, which had been operational since 2007. The USSDA's season had already been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Wednesday's announcement confirmed that it won't be continuing going forward.


Following the news, MLS announced the formation of a "new elite competition" intending to serve both the academy teams run by its members, "as well as select non-MLS academy teams that previously participated in the USSDA." Full details are still being determined but the platform will aim to provide year-round high-level matches as well as regional and national tournaments.


MLS Technical Director of Youth Development Fred Lipka (pictured above) joined MLSsoccer.com's Extratime on Thursday to discuss both announcements, and what he hopes to see going forward in order to keep youth development in the country on the right track.


"I know there is a lot of discussion in the country. What I can say to every single non-MLS club which played in the DA is you will have a place to play," Lipka said. "We don't know exactly when it will be but MLS will help the community and support the community and first and foremost, the kids, in this country to play at a good level of soccer. ... We also have to be humble and honest. We have been doing a good job for maybe the last 4-5 years and I think people can see that now. We want to have the capacity to influence and to be aspirational for all kids and coaches and parents.


"We want, [not necessarily] a professional — but good — level of play and to be a good environment to fulfill every kid's dream. This is the objective. ...We want to increase the level of play for some players and for some teams but we also need to compete and to be inclusive and not exclusive. This is the message."


Check out the whole interview HERE starting at 14:06.