NEW YORK (May 13, 2020) – Major League Soccer today announced that 65 former U.S. Soccer Development Academy clubs will join the League’s existing club academies to create a partnership that will transform youth player development in the United States and Canada.

CLICK HERE for a full list of Founding Member clubs

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.

With a focus on maximizing each player’s potential, the new development platform will not only provide high-level, year-round competition for players, but will provide important programming, education and innovation in the key areas of player development:

• Player Identification
• Coaching
• Environment
• Personal Growth
• Community Outreach

“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.”

Since launching the MLS club academy initiative in 2007, Major League Soccer has demonstrated unprecedented commitment to the development of top-level professional players in the United States and Canada, including an investment of more than $70 million last season alone. This investment has produced more than 250 homegrown players that have become professional and national team players, including recent standout players such as Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas, Solar Soccer Club), James Sands (New York City FC academy, New York Soccer Club) and Matt Real (Philadelphia Union, FC Delco).

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.

With the launch of this new platform, MLS and the elite academy clubs will not only continue to develop world class players but will create a world class soccer development culture that supports and inspires elite players throughout the countries.

“Seacoast United is excited to be a part of the Elite Youth Development Platform, under the guidance of MLS Leadership.” commented Seacoast United Boy’s Academy Director Peter Decker. “As a founding member of the league, we are excited to work with likeminded professionals, with the major focus being centered around maximizing player development in the US.” Decker went on to say, “We firmly believe the new league will continue to raise the bar of the Elite Youth Game in this country and we are thrilled to be part of the new venture.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Elite MLS Youth Development Platform or the Seacoast United program please email Peter Decker at

This gives our players the opportunity to continue to play at the elite level of the youth game in this country, competing against the top programs, both MLS & Non MLS on a Regional & National Platform. We firmly believe this will continue to challenge our players in order to maximize their potential.

The collaboration between clubs from all over the country & MLS Leadership has been fantastic and welcoming.


APRIL 23, 2020

HAMPTON, NH - Seacoast United is proud to announce it has agreed to join the Girls Academy for the 2020-21 season. After the recent termination of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program, for both boys and girls, Academy clubs nationwide have collaborated to create a platform which has the best interests of all players, and clubs, across the country.

Seacoast United has a history of developing great talent in the region, and the Girls Academy now adds to the offerings available to players within the New England area, and strengthens the Seacoast United player development pyramid.



One of our very own Development Academy players, Aaliyah Farid, has been selected to play for the U20 Women's National Morocco Team. Aaliyah is one of four U.S. selectees on the team, and is already in the process of training with her new teammates. The goal of the Moroccan national program is to compete for both the World Cup qualification and the African Cup qualification. The national team has just completed a week of training and friendly matches in Morocco, as they prepare for their first game on March 22nd in Algeria.



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