Major League Soccer announced Wednesday some details on the new youth development platform, including the 95 founding clubs, with academies scattered across the country.
FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez, who had previously worked at the club's academy for years prior to his appointment as first team manager, is excited by the progress and potential for MLS to pick up where the Development Academy left off.
“MLS has been really focused on youth development over the last 10 years," Gonzalez told reporters on a video conference call Thursday. "Every year learning more, increasing investment. I’m not surprised that MLS is stepping it up in helping continue where the Development Academy left off."
In speaking at length in the weeks between the DA folding and MLS providing more details on the new league, Gonzalez believed it was imperative to promote local competition. Six clubs from Texas are founding members of the new platform, including three non-MLS academies. Gonzalez believes that number might grow.
“It’s good, there could be more," Gonzalez said. "I know nothing’s final, there are still teams applying and there’ll be more dialogue to come. I don’t’ think this is final in any way, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more than 100 teams when this actually starts."
Another key point Gonzalez hoped to see was more strategic international competition.
Rather than traveling all of the time domestically, Gonzalez believes deeply in the value of playing international clubs. He says every academy player should play at least 40 international club games by the time they are 17-years-old.
“I think there’s some ideas about having international competition," Gonzalez said. "I know the Canadian MLS academies are involved, but you’ve got great clubs in Mexico who have a lot of support for youth development. Those are clubs that compete internationally. International games are so important for a youth player.”
Regardless of personal views, everyone in the country is working towards the same goal.
“At the end of the day, we all want to go in the same direction: That’s seeing the US men’s reaching a World Cup final one day," Gonzalez said. "That doesn’t happen without our league improving, that doesn’t happen without youth development. I’m excited to hear more about it.”