Thoughts on this?
Im not sure how aware soccer fans are of the dramatic and drastic changes taking place in US youth club soccer. I've been railing on it here for a couple years.
the onset of the Developmental Academy: youth clubs who earn status as nationally recognized "academies" brought into a league to only play each other. Most MLS teams, including the Sounders and Timbers, have a team in DA (usually 16). These DA clubs U19 teams are taking over the PDL and integrating into the NASL.
National Premier League: tier below the DA (i coach two teams in this tier)
MLS Incorporation: MLS teams are now incorporating DA clubs and setting them up with high level coaches, then taking the best players and moving them to their academy. Chicago Fire set the model of this, Cosmos, Sporting and Real Salt lake are emulating it well (with several regional "partner" clubs)
European incorporation: European clubs (Chelsea, Arsenal, Boca, CA, Real Madrid, Bayern) are partnering with MLS clubs in very much the same way MLS clubs are partnering with DAs
Sports related high school acdemies: this started with hockey and is more prevlalent that you might think. while this may be the first soccer high school started by an MLS team, its not nearly the first soccer high school in the US. there are several, and one is operated by Chelsea staffShattuck St. Marys in Minnesota has produced a number of olympic hockey players (including Crosby and Parise) as well as two members of the USMNT (Bunbury being the most notable).
anyways... this isnt your dads youth soccer team. many of these DA clubs are corporate sponsored and have professional club backing (whether it be national or international)
The world is taking interest in the level of commmitment and layers of development the US is putting into the sport