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The new MLS youth league
#737644 05/13/20 08:21 PM
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by Paul Kennedy

The youth soccer landscape on the boys side will not fundamentally change with today's announcement of the initial 95 members (https://bit.ly/3bvoyK2) of MLS's new youth development program.

The same structural issues of geography and travel and access remain for everyone.

Some clubs will want to play 10-month seasons; others will want to play just seven months and let their players play high school ball for the other three months.

The aspirations of MLS and USL clubs -- creating a pro pathway -- will still differ from those of the independent youth clubs -- primarily college-oriented.

The new MLS platform will look basically like the Development Academy did in its last season with the same age groups (with the possible addition of a U-16 division). MLS will likely tier its key age groups in some form.

All the details have not been sorted out, though, because MLS can't dictate them on their own. And it doesn't want to. 

Since U.S. Soccer closed the Development Academy on April 15, Todd Durbin, MLS's executive vice president of competition and player relations, has worked on getting the new league off the ground. That meant spending the last four weeks on Zoom calls with non-MLS clubs around the country, where he quickly realized MLS faced two challenges.

"One was the need to provide a level of specificity so that teams that wanted to join knew and understood what it was they were joining," Durbin said in an interview before the announcement. "What age groups? How many games? All of that. But what came to the surface almost immediately was a deep desire on behalf of everybody to make this culturally different than what had been in the past. And by that, I mean that people wanted not to be told what the platform is. They really wanted to participate and help build it and collaborate with it. There's a tremendous amount of expertise and innovative thought across everybody."

The challenge was setting basic terms without committing to too much.

"How do we, on the one hand, provide specificity?" he said. "Because if we do that, it doesn't sound like there's a lot of collaboration right? And if we just collaborate, collaborate, collaborate, we're not going to have any specificity."

Durbin said the MLS and non-MLS clubs quickly realized they were aligned on more issues than they weren't -- even the controversial ones -- and needed to continue the collaboration that got their new league off the ground in the first place.

"That meant we knew we were going to keep the same age groups and had rough ideas of what the competition structure was going to look like," he said. "But there was an overwhelming sense that this was a really good chance to pause and ask ourselves, What worked with the former Development Academy and what were the things that we'd like to improve on? That is the work we are going to very quickly turn to."

With play halted, those working on the MLS project have a little more time, but the reality is they are still trying to pull off launching a new league in a pandemic.

"It's going to be important for all of us to get the kids back and doing something," said Durbin.

That doesn't mean playing a full-blown schedule or traveling, but getting players and coaches safely together on a regular basis.

"That is one advantage that we have is on the MLS side," Durbin said. "We have a team and our team is our first team or USL team and our Academy kids. So when we're trying to solve this issue, we don't really differentiate. We've gotta get our players back."

And if MLS teams can get their academy teams up and running again, that can be a model for helping the non-MLS teams do it, too. The question will then be, who will these teams play?

Inevitably, some of the rules imposed by the Development Academy will have to be loosened, including the restrictions on outside competition.

"No, that's not us," said Durbin. "If what's best for players and their development is having them play locally, they're playing locally, especially now. We're not going to limited by the very constraints that we create. The government may be create that constraint. But if we find that the reason why we can't do things that are best for player development are because of constraints that are self-inflicted, we're not going to allow that to happen."

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Larry Miller #739520 05/27/20 10:14 AM
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Is the new league splitting U17 into separate U16 and U17 teams? Seemed to be getting mixed information depending upon where I look.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739600 05/27/20 10:40 PM
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What new league ? They made a public relations move by announcing MLS is taking over the DA Boys program, but since then they have been calling every MLS youth academy asking them what they want and what should they do. MLS has been silent on any details. There is no plan.

MLS is not going to run any league or showcase events in the Fall. There is no way they can launch a national league in 1-2 months when they can't even figure out when the pro teams are going to play. For the MLS youth academies this is not a big deal. They will create some type of programming and figure things out. For the non MLS clubs that were part of the DA, they are in for a big surprise and a big revolt from their customers.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739608 05/28/20 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Is the new league splitting U17 into separate U16 and U17 teams? Seemed to be getting mixed information depending upon where I look.
As a non-MLS club we were informed that the new league will be fielding U16 and U17 age groups.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Larry Miller #739670 05/28/20 05:06 PM
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Any word on if the kids will be allowed to play school ball if and when it happens?

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Larry Miller #739706 05/29/20 07:41 AM
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Hopefully they remove the limit on substitutions - the "moments" concept was just terrible. While you can fault college soccer and the emphasis on physicality, allowing unlimited subs and re-entry would align this league with where most kids will top out as players. Frankly, the MLS clubs could run their subs like the pros (3 or maybe 5 per game), while non-MLS could run like college, and then their match-ups would be more competitive and allow the MLS kids to play under real stress.

(not endorsing the college substitution rules, but that's what we've got, so why do anything different when virtually none of those players is going pro anyway)

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739719 05/29/20 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Hopefully they remove the limit on substitutions - the "moments" concept was just terrible. While you can fault college soccer and the emphasis on physicality, allowing unlimited subs and re-entry would align this league with where most kids will top out as players. Frankly, the MLS clubs could run their subs like the pros (3 or maybe 5 per game), while non-MLS could run like college, and then their match-ups would be more competitive and allow the MLS kids to play under real stress.

(not endorsing the college substitution rules, but that's what we've got, so why do anything different when virtually none of those players is going pro anyway)

I think this is not a bad idea at all. Given the MLS teams are somewhat comprised of players who they scout in league and their affiliates, there should be some effort to tilt slightly in favor of the nonMLS teams to make sure games stay competitive. Whether its 3 for MLS and unlimited for non MLS, or some other set up, it is a great idea in concept.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739727 05/29/20 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Hopefully they remove the limit on substitutions - the "moments" concept was just terrible. While you can fault college soccer and the emphasis on physicality, allowing unlimited subs and re-entry would align this league with where most kids will top out as players. Frankly, the MLS clubs could run their subs like the pros (3 or maybe 5 per game), while non-MLS could run like college, and then their match-ups would be more competitive and allow the MLS kids to play under real stress.

(not endorsing the college substitution rules, but that's what we've got, so why do anything different when virtually none of those players is going pro anyway)
I believe the new girl's academy league has already said they are moving to a less restrictive substitution policy.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Larry Miller #739874 05/30/20 09:21 PM
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How about someone define it? The non-MLS clubs are already collecting fall money. Shouldn’t the consumer know what they are paying for? No one has any answers. The MLS should not only ask the club directors to collaborate, they should also ask the players and parents what they believe was wrong with the DA.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739898 05/31/20 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Hopefully they remove the limit on substitutions - the "moments" concept was just terrible. While you can fault college soccer and the emphasis on physicality, allowing unlimited subs and re-entry would align this league with where most kids will top out as players. Frankly, the MLS clubs could run their subs like the pros (3 or maybe 5 per game), while non-MLS could run like college, and then their match-ups would be more competitive and allow the MLS kids to play under real stress.

(not endorsing the college substitution rules, but that's what we've got, so why do anything different when virtually none of those players is going pro anyway)

I think this is not a bad idea at all. Given the MLS teams are somewhat comprised of players who they scout in league and their affiliates, there should be some effort to tilt slightly in favor of the nonMLS teams to make sure games stay competitive. Whether its 3 for MLS and unlimited for non MLS, or some other set up, it is a great idea in concept.


Yes, totally agree. They should also look at non-MLS teams fielding 12 or 13 players. And the MLS teams should play one-touch if they go 5 goals up. And also time-outs need to be introduced. And designated penalty kickers. These are standard development tools the rest of the world has been using for decades.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739942 06/01/20 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Hopefully they remove the limit on substitutions - the "moments" concept was just terrible. While you can fault college soccer and the emphasis on physicality, allowing unlimited subs and re-entry would align this league with where most kids will top out as players. Frankly, the MLS clubs could run their subs like the pros (3 or maybe 5 per game), while non-MLS could run like college, and then their match-ups would be more competitive and allow the MLS kids to play under real stress.

(not endorsing the college substitution rules, but that's what we've got, so why do anything different when virtually none of those players is going pro anyway)

I think this is not a bad idea at all. Given the MLS teams are somewhat comprised of players who they scout in league and their affiliates, there should be some effort to tilt slightly in favor of the nonMLS teams to make sure games stay competitive. Whether its 3 for MLS and unlimited for non MLS, or some other set up, it is a great idea in concept.


Yes, totally agree. They should also look at non-MLS teams fielding 12 or 13 players. And the MLS teams should play one-touch if they go 5 goals up. And also time-outs need to be introduced. And designated penalty kickers. These are standard development tools the rest of the world has been using for decades.

They should have MLS sides play with 9 players and only 3 touches per possession.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739950 06/01/20 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Hopefully they remove the limit on substitutions - the "moments" concept was just terrible. While you can fault college soccer and the emphasis on physicality, allowing unlimited subs and re-entry would align this league with where most kids will top out as players. Frankly, the MLS clubs could run their subs like the pros (3 or maybe 5 per game), while non-MLS could run like college, and then their match-ups would be more competitive and allow the MLS kids to play under real stress.

(not endorsing the college substitution rules, but that's what we've got, so why do anything different when virtually none of those players is going pro anyway)

I think this is not a bad idea at all. Given the MLS teams are somewhat comprised of players who they scout in league and their affiliates, there should be some effort to tilt slightly in favor of the nonMLS teams to make sure games stay competitive. Whether its 3 for MLS and unlimited for non MLS, or some other set up, it is a great idea in concept.


Yes, totally agree. They should also look at non-MLS teams fielding 12 or 13 players. And the MLS teams should play one-touch if they go 5 goals up. And also time-outs need to be introduced. And designated penalty kickers. These are standard development tools the rest of the world has been using for decades.

They should have MLS sides play with 9 players and only 3 touches per possession.

Right this is all the natural progression of a reasonable discussion of how to structure games so that MLS sides are happy, MLS sides get what they need out of the league and we get all of the best players on field together. A small difference in sub maximums seems fairly reasonable. Perhaps it is situational, based on the score differential at a pre-set point in the game - ie if score is within two goals, they have the same sub rule. If the game is a wider margin in favor of the MLS team, the non MLS gets an extra 1-2 subs allowed, determined at 60th minute. Remember that many European academy leagues dont even keep score at the ages we are already forcing kids to fly for "showcase" events.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739961 06/01/20 04:33 PM
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If there's such a disparity,why bother playing,just invite the better players to a tryout,and stop the nonsense

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739966 06/01/20 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Originally Posted by Anonymous
Hopefully they remove the limit on substitutions - the "moments" concept was just terrible. While you can fault college soccer and the emphasis on physicality, allowing unlimited subs and re-entry would align this league with where most kids will top out as players. Frankly, the MLS clubs could run their subs like the pros (3 or maybe 5 per game), while non-MLS could run like college, and then their match-ups would be more competitive and allow the MLS kids to play under real stress.

(not endorsing the college substitution rules, but that's what we've got, so why do anything different when virtually none of those players is going pro anyway)

I think this is not a bad idea at all. Given the MLS teams are somewhat comprised of players who they scout in league and their affiliates, there should be some effort to tilt slightly in favor of the nonMLS teams to make sure games stay competitive. Whether its 3 for MLS and unlimited for non MLS, or some other set up, it is a great idea in concept.


Yes, totally agree. They should also look at non-MLS teams fielding 12 or 13 players. And the MLS teams should play one-touch if they go 5 goals up. And also time-outs need to be introduced. And designated penalty kickers. These are standard development tools the rest of the world has been using for decades.

They should have MLS sides play with 9 players and only 3 touches per possession.

Right this is all the natural progression of a reasonable discussion of how to structure games so that MLS sides are happy, MLS sides get what they need out of the league and we get all of the best players on field together. A small difference in sub maximums seems fairly reasonable. Perhaps it is situational, based on the score differential at a pre-set point in the game - ie if score is within two goals, they have the same sub rule. If the game is a wider margin in favor of the MLS team, the non MLS gets an extra 1-2 subs allowed, determined at 60th minute. Remember that many European academy leagues dont even keep score at the ages we are already forcing kids to fly for "showcase" events.

MLS teams should only be able to score headers and volleys. And their goals should be bigger. And if the games gets too one-sided they should swap 2 of their best players for 2 of our worst. I'm also thinking maybe we should have the game divided into quarters. And what about taking penalties from the halfway line? Now there's an idea...

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #739967 06/01/20 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
A small difference in sub maximums seems fairly reasonable. Perhaps it is situational, based on the score differential at a pre-set point in the game


What language are you talking? This is kids soccer Billy Beane. Go back to your laboratory. You can come out when you can explain why the 82 Brazil team was so special.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Larry Miller #740374 06/07/20 08:18 PM
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I have been reading a lot about SUSA and their refund policy. What are the former Boys DA clubs like Met Oval, BWG and New York Soccer Club doing for their players. Their players missed the spring season and now they are out of the DA program.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #740376 06/07/20 08:52 PM
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I think that mls players should not use their feet,sounds fair to me,you guys are all nuts

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #740381 06/07/20 10:52 PM
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Nobody is fooling anyone,fools,just enjoy playing,and do well in school,and then get a job and continue playing for the enjoyment,stop this mls b.s.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #740396 06/08/20 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
I have been reading a lot about SUSA and their refund policy. What are the former Boys DA clubs like Met Oval, BWG and New York Soccer Club doing for their players. Their players missed the spring season and now they are out of the DA program.

They are collecting money for the fall.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #740458 06/08/20 05:27 PM
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How are these clubs dealing with the spring ? Are they giving credits ? refunds ? or nothing ? Would like to hear more about these elite Boys DA clubs.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Larry Miller #740497 06/09/20 10:25 AM
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They’re giving nothing.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Larry Miller #740499 06/09/20 10:36 AM
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The MLS is struggling to pay players. How are they going to run a legitimate development league? My prediction is that the extent of their involvement will be to replace the DA badge with their own on the kids’ jerseys, and on club websites, so that clubs can market that they participate in the most elite league in the country. But that will be the extent of it.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #740748 06/11/20 02:14 PM
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I see the outrage on the girls side with SUSA. Surprised to see no comments on these high profile Boys DA clubs giving no refunds or credits.

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Anonymous #740750 06/11/20 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Anonymous
I see the outrage on the girls side with SUSA. Surprised to see no comments on these high profile Boys DA clubs giving no refunds or credits.

No one gave $$$$$refunds...No one, not LIJSL, not EDP, not NYCSL, NO ONE. I'm in the wrong business......

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Re: The new MLS youth league
Larry Miller #740815 06/12/20 02:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Larry Miller
Originally Posted by Anonymous
I see the outrage on the girls side with SUSA. Surprised to see no comments on these high profile Boys DA clubs giving no refunds or credits.

No one gave $$$$$refunds...No one, not LIJSL, not EDP, not NYCSL, NO ONE. I'm in the wrong business......

CJSL Did

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