With the Development Academy (DA) having recently disbanded, should I be concerned my player is not going to receive the same exposure to college recruiters?
The DA was designed particularly for the U.S. national teams as a system that would promote top players so they could be more easily discovered and filtered into the national teams (MLS) – for the kids that want to go Pro. It wasn’t designed to encompass players aspiring to play in college. The intention was to create a system that would help the U.S. compete on the world stage, but that isn’t what ended up happening.
Of course, a byproduct of the DA was also college exposure, but we don’t need the DA for that. ECNL caters more to the vast majority of kids in the U.S. who want to play high school soccer and want to play in college.
If a player wants to go Pro, you’ll start seeing signs of that around age 15 or 16 – signs of wanting to play every day, and saying they want to go pro with an understanding of what it really takes.
Now that the DA is done, things will go back to how it was, where the pro MLS teams have true academy programs – where players go to school there, live there, play every day. That’s how it’s done in the rest of the world, and that’s where pro teams discover players.
Parents should know that the top team is still the top team, but ECNL is just better suited to the U.S. system and for college coaches.