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Historic Milestone in Virginia Youth Soccer Begins 2012 Season

RICHMOND, VA – (Monday, February 20, 2012) – The Richmond Kickers are pleased to announce their U.S. Soccer Development Academy will be a cost-free program for the 2012-13 season.  The historic milestone in Virginia youth soccer development is reached through the support of partnerships with The Computer Solution Company, Proseal America, Inc, and multiple donors, allowing dedicated and talented players to reach the highest level of youth soccer, playing, training and traveling free of charge. 

U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor, Chris Brewer, will be hosting a Town Hall meeting on Saturday, February 25 at 5 p.m. at the Richmond Kickers office, located at 2001 Maywill Street, Suite 203 Richmond, VA.  The informational meeting is open to anyone who wishes to learn more about this exciting initiative as well as U.S. Soccer Federation’s plans to move to a 10-month season beginning Fall 2012.

"I wish to thank everyone who had the vision, passion and commitment to make this historic moment in youth player development a reality,” commented Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer.  “It is our hope that this significant commitment to youth soccer development will ignite community interest in establishing one neutral Academy program for Central Virginia that all clubs, players and parents can unite behind to share resources to best serve the most talented and dedicated players in the region.”

U.S. Soccer Development Academy to Launch Under-13/14 Program in Fall of 2013

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy, in its continual effort to progress and enhance player development, has announced the launch of an Under-13/14 division starting in the Fall of 2013.

The U-13/14 division will consist of current Academy clubs and will possibly add a limited amount of clubs from outside the current Academy structure from some markets throughout the U.S. Details regarding the start of the application process, the format of the schedule and other logistics will be announced at a later date.

“We started the Development Academy to improve player development on all levels, and adding a competitive structure to the U-13/14 age group is an important next step in this long-term process,” said Development Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore. “The U-13/14 age group is at a very crucial stage in their development. Applying the overall philosophy of the Academy to the U-13/14 age group will allow us to continue to shift the focus of the young elite player to meaningful training and competition.”

The clubs selected for the U-13/14 age group will follow a model that increases training to four times a week, with fewer but meaningful matches, and the schedule structure will be regionalized to limit the amount of travel.

“I am very excited to see this important next step in the process of developing young players in this country,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Just as with the players on the National Team, these young players need to get increased training and play in the most meaningful games they can. Being in the Academy also gives them more time to practice on their own, which gives them another chance to be creative and have fun. All these elements are critical for players at this age group.”

As the Development Academy works toward next year’s launch of the U-13/14 program, the Academy is currently gearing up for its 2012-13 season, which kicks off during the weekend of Sept. 8-9. The Academy enters its sixth season with 80 teams among three conferences and seven divisions at the U-15/16 and U-17/18 levels. This campaign marks the first across-the-board implementation of the 10-month season, which provides elite players with an opportunity to train and compete in an environment consistent with international standards of player development.

The Development Academy completed its 2011-12 season in late July, with Academy Finals Week taking place in Houston and the championship matches held at the newly built BBVA Compass Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. In the U-17/18 title game, FC Dallas defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3-2 in front of a strong home-state fan base on July 22, with Jose de la Tejera scoring back-to-back goals in the second half to lead FC Dallas to its first Academy title. In the U-15/16 championship, the New York Red Bulls topped St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri 1-0 on July 23 as New York completed an unbeaten run that started in mid-May en route to its first crown. It marked the first time two MLS-affiliated teams won the championship at both age levels.


Developing the Next Generation
U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy program is driven by the game and its players, coaches and referees.  This game-centric approach allows for long-term development to occur through a deep understanding of what makes players successful around the world.  As the sport of soccer grows in the United States, young players in our country need the proper environment to compete against the world’s elite.  The U.S. Soccer Development Academy program provides the optimum developmental environment for the nation’s top youth soccer players, coaches and referees by emphasizing development through quality training and limited, meaningful competition.

Meaningful Training
Academy teams spend a greater amount of time focused on training to improve as individuals and as a team.  The teams and players receive direct feedback and evaluations from national Team Staff and ProZone video analysis.  To round-out the complete training environment, Academy teams are tested in their physical capabilities using the SPARQ testing methodology and their hydration levels by Gatorade.  They also receive a SPARQ training curriculum for soccer-specific athletic training and Nutrition and Hydration recommendations from Gatorade’s Sports Science Institute.  Each athlete then gains a greater understanding of how they compare physically against their peers and what they need to do to achieve their optimal performance levels.

Competitive Environment
The Academy program features teams from the top youth clubs from around the country.  Each Academy team plays approximately 30 regular season games to ensure all games are meaningful.  Games are also played according to FIFA’s Laws of the Game and officiated by a pool of the nation’s top young referees in order to prepare players for the next level of competition.  National Team Scouts regularly attend Academy games, so players are evaluated over the course of the season and in their natural positions allowing for better player assessment.

Early Success
As the program enters its second year, it has already dramatically impacted the player development process in the United States.  In 2008, more than 100 players from academy clubs were included in the U.S. Youth national Teams and almost 800 graduates from the inaugural Academy class participated in college soccer the following fall.  Virtually all college programs use the Academy program as a scouting vehicle and the program has received increased attention from professional scouts representing domestic and international clubs.  Visit to view the top Academy teams in action.

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