US Club SoccerWith the USSF running their own U16 and U18 Boys Academy Leagues, many wondered when the regional academy format would move down to U14. Rumors abound that the USSF will be expanding their program to U14s in the near future, but the question was when.

Now US Club Soccer has announced a regional U14/U15 Pre-Academy League, kicking off with the Northeast region:

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Jan. 5, 2009) – The first of US Club Soccer’s Regional Leagues has been finalized, as the Northeast Pre-Academy League for U-14 and U-15 boys is set to kick off in February 2009.

As a result of the considerable interest expressed in US Club Soccer playing a more direct role in league development, the organization announced in September that it would begin selectively administering its own regional leagues. The Northeast Pre-Academy League is the first of these leagues to come to fruition.

The 12-team Northeast Pre-Academy League features well-known member clubs in seven states, all but one of which are current members of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

As a USSF affiliate, you don’t expect US Club was going rogue. In fact, USSF officials are quoted in the press release supporting the new program:

“The league also provides U.S. Soccer with an opportunity to scout and identify players for U-14 and U-15 national pools and will serve as a great format for USSF scouts and technical advisors to observe and provide ongoing feedback to clubs regarding their approach to developing players at these crucial pre-academy age groups,” Lepore added. “The league will also help future academy players – and their parents – to better understand and prepare for all aspects of the 15/16 and 17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy league.” [Tony Lepore, Director of Scouting for the US Soccer Development Academy]

Has the USSF decided not to expand the development academy to U14 and instead rely on US Club to run a ‘Pre-Academy’ program at U14 instead? Makes sense on many levels, but only time will tell. Expect other regional announcements soon expanding this program into other regions.