Minnesota United FC today announced the launch of its MLS Development Academy and a partnership with the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association (MYSA). This is an initial and major step intended to grow the game of soccer in Minnesota.
MNUFC will be joining U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy, which was created in 2007 following a comprehensive review of elite player development in the United States and around the world. Today, more than 150 clubs across the U.S. are members of the U.S. Soccer Academy program.
The Academy will be a destination for select, high-potential talent referred from youth clubs throughout the region, and will function as a unique, top-tier program within the state and the designated MLS youth home territory. The first phase of the MNUFC Development Academy will focus on boys born from 2004 to 2006, with placement into the U13 and U14 age groups. Those teams will begin competition in September of 2017 and move forward through the Academy system over subsequent years with the phasing in of teams in the U15, U17 and U19 age groups.
“The decision to build the Academy from the ground up with U13 and U14 teams, rather than from the top down with the oldest teams first, was made after careful review of existing youth soccer activities in our region,” said MNUFC Sporting Director Manny Lagos. “We are excited about this new initiative, and look forward to helping further advance youth soccer throughout the region.”
Tim Carter will serve as Director of the Development Academy, with the program drawing on input and participation of the MNUFC first team coaches and training personnel, in addition to staff dedicated to the Academy itself. Participants in the Academy will engage in a program founded on best practice for player development, and will also be provided with off-field support for academic and personal growth. It will be structured around the U.S. Soccer Academy philosophy of increased training, fewer total games and the use of international rules of competition.
“Our goal is to develop players to be their best,” Carter said. “Obviously, we want to see players reach the first team and represent our community in MLS, but equally important to us is helping young people grow and become citizen-athletes who represent us at any level of competition with outstanding class and integrity.”
The MNUFC and MYSA partnership is multi-faceted, with the shared goal of promoting and improving the youth soccer environment through collaborative programming and greater engagement with the youth soccer community. With more than 130 affiliated youth clubs and more than 60,000 registered youth soccer participants, MYSA is the foremost leader in youth soccer within the state.
Among the planned initiatives, MNUFC and MYSA will help promote and grow the Olympic Development Program (ODP) by improving and expanding the player pathway, creating additional opportunities for coach development and providing technical support to enhance the youth soccer environment.
“This partnership increases the opportunities and experiences youth players will receive through the Minnesota ODP program,” said MYSA Director of Coaching and Player Development John Curtis. “It allows ODP to offer another ‘what’s next’ to the program with a clear crossover pathway with the MLS Development Academy.”
MNUFC and MYSA will also work to identify players from unaffiliated, diverse communities where soccer is the sport of choice – reaching out to these talented players and offering an opportunity to represent Minnesota with ODP or as a member of Minnesota United’s Development Academy.
“Through these joint efforts, we are able to better serve our membership to grow the game and improve the level of play in Minnesota,” said MYSA President Steve May. “MYSA will help Minnesota players, coaches and club coaching directors to connect with the highest level of professional soccer in the U.S.”
Further details about the MNUFC Development Academy and player trials can be found on the team website at MNUFC.COM.
For information about the MYSA, visit MNYOUTHSOCCER.ORG.
Minnesota makes its home MLS debut on March 12 at TCF Bank Stadium against fellow expansion side Atlanta United. Fans can now get a ticket to this first ever MLS match along with a MNUFC pom hat, starting at $25. Season tickets and membership in the Itasca Society are available now at MNUFC.COM and single match tickets go on sale Feb. 9.