US Soccer will stop its Development Academy ©Getty Images

US Soccer have announced their Development Academy programme will close as part of cost saving measures within the organisation.

The Development Academy was initially established in 2007, as the United States aimed to provide regular competitive matches for teams.

This included a league featuring youth academies and clubs, including from Major League Soccer (MLS).

The Development Academy’s activities had drawn to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, with US Soccer now announcing the programme will end.

Will Wilson, who was appointed US Soccer secretary general last month, also confirmed national youth team programmes would be reduced amid the crisis.

Wilson said that “layoffs and furloughs were another challenging part” of the decisions taken, with the official adding that he would take a 50 per cent pay cut during the time of “economic uncertainty”.

“We know that discontinuing our support of the Development Academy will have a significant impact across the elite youth soccer ecosystem," said Wilson.

“While the timing is difficult, unprecedented times required us to act now, and we are committed to doing as much as we can to assist during these extremely challenging times.

“It won’t be easy at first, but I’m confident we will find a way through it together.

“At U.S. Soccer, we will also be looking at other ways to positively impact youth development moving forward, including an increased emphasis on coaching education, a more comprehensive scouting effort, and working with clubs to maintain and expand the philosophy and standards established through the Development Academies.”

Major League Soccer are seeking to fill the void caused by the US Soccer Development Academy ending ©Getty Images
Major League Soccer are seeking to fill the void caused by the US Soccer Development Academy ending ©Getty Images

The US Soccer decision coincided with an announcement from the MLS to establish a new youth competition to deliver year-round matches for academy teams that had been part of the Development Academy.

It is claimed teams will have elite competition against domestic and international sides, with the MLS adding it was evaluating expanding participation to include clubs beyond the former US Soccer Development Academy and future potential competition opportunities for girls.

The competition will include league season matches and both regional and national tournaments with international teams.

The MLS also vowed to expand coach education and improve the approach to player identification.

Establishment of the competition comes as the United States prepares to host the 2026 FIFA MLS World Cup with Mexico and Canada.

“Major League Soccer is deeply committed to developing world-class players through an elite competitive pathway, from our academy teams through the professional game,” said Todd Durbin, MLS vice-president of competition and player relations, in a league statement.

“As we look ahead to the 2026 FIFA MLS World Cup here in the US, Canada and Mexico, now more than ever it is incumbent on us to establish a competition that sets a new standard for elite youth play and allows athletes to achieve their full potential.”