CHICAGO (Via U.S. Soccer) – The Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. will host the 2019 Development Academy Championships from July 8-11. The Academy Championships serve as the finale of the season as national champions will be crowned for boys at the U-16/17 and U-18/19 age group as well as girls at the U-15 and U-16/17 age groups.
“Creating the best possible environment for players, coaches and referees is critical for performance and development,” said Jared Micklos, Director of Youth National Teams. “We identified Great Park as an ideal facility in a great location that will meet the needs of our athletes and create an enjoyable atmosphere for fans and spectators. We are excited to partner with a Development Academy club and a professional team in Irvine to showcase the top level of youth soccer and grow the game in our country.”
The OC Great Park Sports Complex features 25 pristine soccer fields, highlighted by the Championship Soccer Stadium. The Stadium can hold 2,500 spectators and includes full locker rooms and training facilities as well as concessions and an upper-level viewing deck for spectators. The Stadium serves as home to USL Championship club Orange County SC and their youth Academy club while Academy club Strikers FC also hosts games at the Great Park Sports Complex.
OC Great Park’s selection as host for the Academy Championship comes after a thorough search process for the best possible venue. Irvine offers moderate July temperatures and little humidity, with an average high of 84 degrees and an average low of 63. The facility is located about 45 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
“Irvine is proud to host the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Championships at the Orange County Great Park,” said Christina L. Shea, Mayor of the City of Irvine. “The professional-level quality of our facilities matches the high caliber of the players participating in this championship event.”
The final four teams in the Academy Playoffs from the Boys’ U-16/17 and U-18/19 age groups as well as the Girls’ U-15 and U-16/17 age groups will advance to the Academy Championships in Irvine. Development Academy travel partner Anthony Travel will assist all participating clubs with travel and housing needs for the Academy Championships.
Last season, Seattle Sounders FC U-16/17 and New York City FC U-18/19 took home the Boys’ Academy titles while FC Dallas U-15 and Real Colorado U-16/17 won the inaugural Girls’ Academy Championships.
Southern California represents a prominent market in the Development Academy, as 11 Boys’ clubs at the U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 levels as well as 11 Girls’ clubs call the area home. Events are a cornerstone of the Academy program. Held seasonally in the fall, winter, spring and summer, Showcase events feature competition between the top teams nationwide, while the Academy Championship stages semifinals and finals for the best of the best to compete for four national championships.
This year’s Boys’ Summer Showcase and Playoffs, which will determine the field for the Academy Championships, will be held from June 17-25, while the Girls’ event will be held June 20-29. The events will be held concurrently at the SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, Calif. A playoff draw will be held for the boys on June 5 and for girls on June 12. For the U-15 Boys and U-18/19 Girls, Academy national champions will be crowned at the Summer Showcase in Oceanside.
Following a comprehensive review of elite player development in the United States and around the world, U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007, subsequently growing the program year over year. In Fall 2017, the Academy expanded its programming to include the Girls’ Development Academy.
The Academy focuses on positively impacting everyday club environments to maximize youth player development across the country. The Academy’s philosophy is based on increased training and fewer but more meaningful games using international rules of competition.
Entering its 13th year in 2019-20, the Academy season will be comprised of teams across five age groups in the Boys’ program: U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19, and five age groups in the Girls’ program: U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18/19.