San Antonio FC today announced that the SAFC Pro Academy will join Major League Soccer’s Elite Player Development platform. 65 former U.S. Soccer Development Academy clubs will join the MLS’s existing club academies to create a partnership that will transform youth player development in the United States and Canada.
“San Antonio FC is excited to join the newly founded MLS Elite Youth Development Platform,” said SAFC Pro Academy Director Nick Evans. “Our club is committed to the development of our city’s youth players and committed to the development of the growth of the game nationally. We value greatly the level of the competition from within our region and know this will help enhance our players’ development experience. The MLS Elite Youth Development will serve to provide our players with the nation’s top-level programming schedule. San Antonio FC looks forward to participating at the highest youth level available and contributing to all players’ competitive experiences.”
The 65 youth clubs will join the MLS academies as Founding Members of MLS’ elite player development platform. The new platform, which will include more than 8,000 players throughout the U.S. and Canada, 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.
The platform will operate with a groundbreaking governance structure that promotes collaboration, innovation and input across all areas of the soccer landscape. Within the structure, technical working groups will provide recommendations on the platform’s strategic objectives and standards, outline competition guidelines and formats, as well as introduce platform programming. By unifying the elite player development landscape and creating a collaborative structure, the new platform will accelerate and enhance player development in North America.
“There is strong positive momentum and excitement among MLS club academies and elite academy clubs to co-create a platform that will deliver an unparalleled experience for the nation’s top players and clubs,” said Fred Lipka, Vice President and Technical Director of MLS Player Development. “The development of professional and elite players requires a comprehensive and integrated approach, beyond just the competition format, and we are having daily conversations with academy clubs across the country who are committed to building that environment with us.”
The elite academy clubs that are Founding Members of the new platform have also been leaders in the development of players for college, MLS and the national teams. Combined, MLS Academies and the elite academies joining the platform have produced more than 90% of the U.S. Youth National Team players in the last year, making the new platform the top destination for the best young players in North America.