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DC United announce operational plans for youth academy, departing from pay to play model

D.C. United has announced their operational plans for their youth academy teams moving forward, with all teams being fully-funded by the club, according to a Monday release from the club.

The club had previously been one of two MLS teams to charge a fee to play for its youth academy teams, with this announcement marking a departure from the pay to play model.

DCU also announced its intention to continue its Pathway-to-Pro program -- an initiative focused on partnering with elite local youth clubs.

“We are excited to announce the advancements of our Academy for this season and the future,” general manager Dave Kasper said in a statement. “This update to our youth setup is another example of the commitment from club ownership and management to further grow and develop the sport in our region, while strengthening our club from top-to-bottom at the same time.”

The development takes place as MLS debuts its new youth development league MLS NEXT, which will act as the new competitive development platform following the disbandment of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

“Our academy continues to adapt, evolve, and support our players and their development,” DCU academy director Dave Sanford said. “We’re excited about the new structure within the MLS NEXT platform for our youth as they continue to work hard and achieve their goals in soccer. Our academy pathway is refined, clear, and allows each player an opportunity to pave their way to a professional career.”

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