Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday the addition of 19 youth soccer clubs from across the United States into its newly created elite youth development platform, taking the total number of participating academies to 113 and encompassing over 11,000 players.
Now included in the participating clubs are 30 professional MLS academies, 5 USL academies and 78 additional elite academies. The platform launched in May after the U.S. Soccer Development Academy was shut down, with MLS taking the lead in elite youth development in the United States and Canada.
“The spirit of this platform is ensuring representation across the entire soccer landscape and at every level of the governance structure. Seeking input from all members and catering to players from diverse backgrounds is at the core of this platform," Fred Lipka, VP and technical director of MLS Player Development, said in a league statement. "We are excited to welcome these academies and thousands of elite players to join our founding members in this competition with the first stage of expansion and look forward to additional expansion in the years to come."
The 19 clubs added are: Achilles FC (Washington, D.C.), Albion nSC Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV), Alexandria Soccer Association (Alexandria, VA), Bayside Futebol Club (East Providence, RI), Black Watch Premier Albany (BWP) (Albany, NY), FC Bay Area (San Jose, CA), Houston Dynamo Unidos (Houston, TX), Inter Atlanta FC (Atlanta, GA), Javanon FC (Louisville, KY), Lamorinda Soccer Club (Clovis, CA), Las Vegas Sports Academy (LVSA) (Las Vegas, NV), Michigan Jaguars (Detroit, MI), Midwest United FC (Grand Rapids, MI), Napa United (Napa, CA), Orlando City Youth Soccer Club, (Sanford, FL), Real Jersey FC (Medford, NJ), Sheriffs Fútbol Club (Oakland, CA), Springfield South County Youth Club (SYC) (Springfield, VA), and Total Football Club (Houston, TX).
MLS also announced the formation of governance structure, to "promote collaboration, innovation and input with representation from MLS academies and other elite youth academies." There will be four tiers of governance, with a selection of both MLS clubs and elite academies making up the various working groups.
The platform will consist of elite year-round competition, as well as player identification initiatives, coaching education opportunities, and additional programming to create the premier player development environment.