This article was originally published on SoccerToday.
Starting Fall 2020, EA Expands Boys Youth Soccer Player Pool for MLS Elite Clubs in Southwest
Announcement of the Launch of Elite Academy League (EA), serving as a supplemental league for MLS Elite clubs to expand player pool pathway. Select top youth soccer clubs work together and form a new, high-quality youth soccer league for the benefit of youth player development. Albion SC, City SC, LAUFA, TFA, CVFC, Surf Murrieta, Laguna United, Liverpool International Academy SoCal, Santa Monica Surf, and Santa Barbara SC will be participating in the 2020-2021 season.
The Elite Academy League is an all-boys developmental youth soccer league created to extend the player pool of the “MLS Elite Clubs” and provide a reserve league-like platform to help the next tier of talented players prepare to advance.
THE IDEA IS TO MIRROR THE MLS’ PLATFORM STANDARDS AND OFFER A CONSISTENT, PROGRESSIVE PATHWAY FOR PLAYERS TO DEVELOP AND ADVANCE.
Created in the Western US Region and starting to play this September in Cal South and US Youth South, the new league kicks off with the Southwest Division and will serve as a supplemental league to the “MLS Elite Clubs.”
Committed to developing top players across the platform, the league is built off the former DA standards and will adopt most, if not all, standards expected to be announced by the MLS Elite Youth Development Platform. Launched in Southern California, one of America’s hotbeds of youth soccer, EA League kicks off with the Southwest Division Fall 2020.
Albion SC, City SC, LAUFA, TFA, CVFC, Surf Murrieta, Laguna United, Liverpool International Academy, Santa Monica Surf, and Santa Barbara SC will be participating in the 2020-2021 season with teams in the following boys’ ages U11-U19.
The U11 and U12 age groups inside the Elite Academy League will be the top teams in their respective clubs and will be considered pre “MLS Elite” League teams and will be preparing to move into the league at U13. The EA League’s U13 and older teams are the expanded player pool.
The Elite Academy League is composed of member clubs primarily from the new “MLS Elite” Academy as well as other top competitive clubs, recommended and admitted by the Elite Academy League Technical Group.
THIS LEAGUE WAS INSPIRED BY DEDICATED COACHES WHO UNDERSTAND THE NEEDS OF HARD-WORKING AND SKILLED PLAYERS, MANY OF WHO JUST NEED MORE TRAINING OR TIME TO DEVELOP IN ORDER TO ADVANCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL.
The league will continue to build off the standards of the former DA and now the “MLS Elite”. This program combines every valued principle, tested, and proven standard within the DA while allowing for youth players to participate in high school soccer and with a higher degree of flexibility for substitution rules — and is committed to being the top player development league in the United States under the MLS Elite Player Platform.
“Elite Academy League was built with the “MLS Elite clubs” in the Southwest,” said Noah Gins, CEO/Executive Director ALBION SC & ASC SAN DIEGO. “The founding clubs have worked together to develop a strong, standards-based league with a streamlined approach to player development and a progressive pathway between MLS Elite Platform and the EA League.”
THE MARKET IS GAINING INCREDIBLE MOMENTUM AS WITH THE LAUNCH OF THE NEW MLS YOUTH PLATFORM, AND THE EA LEAGUE WILL NOW HELP EXPAND AND PREPARE ITS POTENTIAL PLAYER POOL.
said Noah Gins, CEO/Executive Director ALBION SC & ASC SAN DIEGO
“THIS NEW PLATFORM ALLOWS CLUBS TO MIRROR THE PROGRAMMING AND STANDARDS-DRIVEN BY THE NEW MLS ACADEMY LEAGUE.”
Paul Ritchie, City SC
“The EA provides a solid structure to support our players with collegiate soccer aspirations and expands the academy experience and opportunities beyond just the first team at each age group,” said Paul Ritchie, City SC.
“We are very proud to be a Founding Member of the Elite Academy,” said Michael Duggan, Director of Operations City SC. “This is a very important league that runs alongside the MLS player platform and extends its player pool, preparing our players to develop with the same standards.”
“I am thrilled that the gifted players in the region will have the opportunity to participate in this unique league. Our club has been looking forward to the new developing landscape in American soccer, and we are positioned to lead our region in it,” said Hector Diaz, Chula Vista FC
WE ARE DELIGHTED WITH THE EA LEAGUE FOUNDING CLUBS. YOU TRULY CANNOT FIND A LEAGUE WITH A BETTER GROUP OF YOUTH SOCCER CLUBS IN THE COUNTRY.
Hector Diaz, CVFC
“We are honored to be a founding member of the EA. As a club devoted to player development, we have always prided ourselves on the highest standards of coaching, and are looking forward to our players benefiting from the privilege of playing in the EA and adhering to its high standards,” said Tim Woodcock, CEO Liverpool International Academy SoCal
“Liverpool Football Club International Academy SoCal looks forward to the launch of the EA. With good football people coming together to collaborate and innovate, — and with these top elite clubs involved, I have no doubt the future is bright for the players in this top player development league,” said Paul Holohan, Academy Director, Liverpool International So Cal
“Laguna United FC is excited about this great opportunity to be part of the Elite Academy League. The league’s vision and structure provide a clear developmental pathway for player and team progression which will greatly benefit our club and community,” said Sam Nicholson, Laguna United.
“THE PLATFORM OF THE LEAGUE PROVIDES TOP YOUTH CLUBS THE OPPORTUNITY TO COMPETE AT A HIGH LEVEL WITH MEANINGFUL GAMES.”
Sam Nicholson, Laguna United
“The vision of the Elite Academy league, and how it emphasizes vertical integration is a huge piece. We look forward to being a great constituent of the league and participating in the high-level competition on a consistent basis,” said Arron Craggs, Santa Monica Surf SC.
“I AM HAPPY THAT SANTA MONICA SURF WILL WORK WITH TREMENDOUS PARTNERS ELEVATING OUR LEVEL OF PLAY AND SETTING US UP FOR FUTURE SUCCESS.”
Arron Craggs, Santa Monica SURF
“We are extremely excited to be a founding member & compete in the Boys Elite Academy League. This league will raise the level of competition for all of our boys’ teams at Murrieta Surf,” Matt Hocking, Murrieta Surf
“Santa Barbara SC is deeply committed to developing elite level players and is excited about the new Elite Academy League. We are honored to be affiliated with a platform that collaborates with top clubs throughout the country and aligns with our club’s core values,” said Christy Gates-Bowes, Santa Barbara SC.
*Note: Santa Barbara SC will only have U12 participate this fall.
“LAUFA us appreciative to be a founding member of the Elite Academy League. LAUFA perceives this league as an extended opportunity to contribute to our development pathway with meaningful competition,” said Martin Vasquez, Academy Director.
“As a Founding Member, we are excited to be a part of this new and cutting edge league. We now have another professionally structured league that we can provide to other deserving teams throughout our club. Looking forward to working closely with the other Founding Members as we embark on our first year together,” said Paul Walker, President, TFA
Background on the New Boys’ Elite Academy League
The Elite Academy League is an Elite platform developed to address the needs of its membership primarily assisting with developing top players inside the elite club’s player pool.
This new league allows the member clubs of the “MLS Elite,” to work together to promote the highest standards in competitive soccer and integrate both leagues with this common goal and direction.
Sharing the player development philosophy of a long-term, individual player development approach over the team winning standings, the EA offers a new level of player development not available before when the U.S. Soccer Development Academy existed — a layer right below the DA’s top tier where players can train in a similar environment and be ready to advance when able and opportunity knocks.
This integration further presents long-needed flexibility in two key areas; (
- Permission for all players to participate in High School Soccer and,
- Revising the substitution rules to encourage clubs to better utilize their player pools, especially when showcasing their players to college coaches.
EA LEAGUE’S MISSION
The Elite Academy League has a mission to maintain the standards that exist inside the “MLS Elite” league, bridging the gap and developing the player pool in the most effective manner to promote the advancement of qualified players.
EA LEAGUE’S VISION
Our vision is to advance the player pool who have shown and developed the skills necessary to progress to the highest level of play. This league provides and fosters a vertical integration approach, leading to direct access and movement into the next level of play, with the “MLS Elite” clubs. This league will serve to provide a seamless pathway of development for all top players who are motivated to establish themselves at the elite level, for competitive youth soccer, the collegiate environment, and beyond.
Interested in joining the EA League? Here is a link to the form to complete. Decisions on new clubs will be made annually between January 15 and June 1.