Sunil on future of the U-17 residency camp

Discussion in 'Youth National Teams' started by truthandlife, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. truthandlife

    truthandlife Member

    Jul 28, 2003
    Houston Dynamo
    Sunil Gulati interview (Soccer America)

    SA: How do you see the future of the U-17 residency camp in Bradenton, Fla.?

    SG: I was at Bradenton [recently] with [U.S. Soccer] secretary general Dan Flynn. We spent a lot of time talking both between us and with [U-17 coach] John Hackworth.

    And I've talked with some of the MLS teams and other people involved in player development, Bruce Arena and so on. I think there will be some shifts over time. And those shifts will take place as MLS plays a greater role in player development at younger ages. And that role and effort will be supported by the Federation. That day is not today.

    I think we all understand that Bradenton and Project-40 in particular came about to fill a need, to fill a gap. I think they've both been extraordinarily successful in doing that.

    Neither one was intended to be that way forever, and I think that's still the case.
  2. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Sporting Kansas City
    No shock to me. I've been saying ever since it leaked out earlier this year that MLS is talking about allowing teams that start there own youth systems to have some rights to the players they help to create, that eventually the USMNT residency program in Bradenton will eventually go away.

    It won't be for a few years at least, but I would be surprised if the USMNT residency program exists in 10 years.
  3. dabes2

    dabes2 Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    I agree with this concept, but I think reality is much more difficult than it sounds.

    In Chicago, the Fire's youth development program can't compete with the best clubs -- Soccers and Magic at older youth age groups.

    So, while in concept, having elite U17 programs run by MLS clubs makes a bunch of sense, they need to first surpass the existing local club infrastructure before they compete for the kids currently going to Bradenton.

    I guess I am saying that I don't think this problem gets solved just by thinking about U17. Because if most of the kids with the quality to make this theoretical MLS Club U17 roster head off to college at U18, that program will not ever take root. In order for the "local MLS club" system to work, they probably have to span the U15-U19 ages with an elite program, and likely need a connection with a local University to offer college coursework.

    If not, I just see the current system sticking around.
  4. EveryDayIDo

    EveryDayIDo New Member

    Nov 7, 2004
    Why do you think that programs run by MLS teams would be limited to U-17 age group? MLS will have a full youth academy/development system employed by major clubs throughout .the world by the time that US Soccer abandons residency and P-40. With time this will far surpass the current state of club soccer in the US
  5. GersMan

    GersMan Member

    May 11, 2000
    No doubt about it. The plans I've seen have U15 through U18 teams (basically high school years) - drawing from a much broader area than most clubs do now.

    The pressure won't be on MLS, but on the existing clubs to make sure they are viable, to somehow be a part of the feeder system for these professional youth sides that will emerge.

    Whatever you've seen thus far from any MLS team, in the way of a youth team - forget about it. They have to this point been nothing more than money-spinners and/or PR vehicles. To my knowledge only the MetroStars have even had a competitive team, and that with a somewhat tenuous connection to the actual first team setup.

    These setups that are coming will IN REALITY be connected with the professional team, with the teams having first right to the players when they sign a professional contract.

    Apparently the goal is for these rights to be maintained AFTERWARD in the event a player chooses to play college soccer. I suspect that may be a stickier wicket to negotiated, but it is the right idea from a player and league development perspective.
  6. dabes2

    dabes2 Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    This seems pretty sticky. I could see this working for inner city kids, but not for the suburban soccer stars of today's generation.
  7. Eric B

    Eric B Member

    Feb 21, 2000
    the LBC
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'd say the amount of surbuban kids who have already skipped college since the advent of the P40 type stuff would contradict that. Now there's plenty of surburban types that would be needed to fill out the numbers who's parents might think twice about risking a sure scholarship, but it's highly unlikely that anyone with Donovan/Convey/Szetela-type talent in the future would choose college over a shot at the pros, just like now.

    This reminds me; have the big money youth clubs started to cry bloody murder yet at all this talk of "pros developing pros" from the Don, or will their battle to protect their meal tickets be waged silently?
  8. Pegasus

    Pegasus Member+

    Apr 20, 1999
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You could look at it that way and a lot of clubs will. However if it gets off the ground and there is real money to be made as pros then the smarter youth clubs might position themselves as the club that develops kids that FC MLS gobbles up.
  9. dabes2

    dabes2 Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    If this were only for the Donovan/Convey/Szetela types, then Bradenton works fine.

    Remember, only a handful of players are skipping high school to go to MLS right now. The ones who feel they can be full pros at 17. I really think this system is going to struggle to compete with colleges for the broader audience. I'm not saying there aren't going to be some kids interested, but I see this being more of an addition/evolution than a revolution.
  10. Leocheck

    Leocheck Member

    Oct 20, 2004
    I think it's about time that US soccer start to work towards the rest of the world when it comes to youth development. I think all the MLS clubs should have youth academy, were the develop players from they are young. Looking at Europe many of the players coming through the ranks has been connected with their club since they are around 6-7 years. Gerrard was at Liverpool from he was 7, Rooney at Everton fom he was 6, Raul Was at Atletico Madrid from he was 6 until Real signed him when he was 16.

    Considering that in most of the big leagues the clubs in the top division is by law commitet to having their own youth academy, it should be the same in the US.
  11. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Heck of a question.

    I am skeptical. To do this right will take $$$, commitment, and long-term vision. I would be surprised if MLS has the dollars and deep-rooted beliefs to see this through. I think the existing youth clubs will eat MLS's lunch.

    I'd be delighted to be proven wrong.
  12. dabes2

    dabes2 Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    I would be shocked if the existing elite local clubs supported the MLS youth development program. They will compete with them tooth and nail and I think very effectively. Their positioning will continue to be exactly what it is today -- all about the D1 college scholarship.

    Those European club systems everyone is admiring have a huge advantage in the concentration of their soccer populations. Said another way, who are the Chicago Fire youth teams going to play? You guessed it -- Soccers and Magic. They can't possibly drive to KC and Columbus every weekend to find a game. It's not like West Ham within a short drive of Arsenal, Fulham, Charleton, Spurs,...

    I believe that if the MLS clubs are going to be succesful with their youth programs, they should target the inner city, low $ kids who don't have access to top club soccer today. And then they will compete with the existing elite clubs in their city and just add another channel for developing local players.
  13. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Yes, that makes sense. I don't think "inner city" is quite the right term, because these days low income families are almost as likely to live in the poorer suburbs as in the cities, but I get the point. A niche program to tap into the families that often are left out of the suburban club scene due to a lack of $$ and/or transportation.

    Whatever happens, it won't be overnight. GersMan knows my next example ... a rocket ship of a 12 year old who glides with the ball glued to his feet. Plays on my son's U13 club team, can outrun most top-level U17s and has plenty of ball tricks too. His older brother spent 10 years at this same club, the club took good care of him, he's now a starter at a Big 10 school. The family lives 15 minutes away from the practices. The family believes in education and expects the second son to attend college, too. What can the Fire say to get him to come over? Pretty much nothing, I figure.

    And if you don't have him, by definition you're a niche program, because he's the prospect at his age group in the Chicago area.
  14. dabes2

    dabes2 Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    Totally agree. To return to the theme, I don't think Bradenton is going away real soon.
  15. leftnut

    leftnut New Member

    Aug 4, 2005
    The MN Thunder (A League) started a new residential program at Shattuck- St. Mary's HS in Faribault, MN (just South of Twin Cities) this year. The attraction is top notch, private education, great facilities, and highly qualified coaches (Tim Carter, formerly USSF staff coach, is Director). This is a nine month program, and players will still play with clubs, although there are bound to be conflicts. In their first year, they attracted a few regional team players (Keegan Gunderson & Teal Bunbury, MN and Baba Omosegbon, IN, are all Region II ODP players who go there). Yes, you pay to go there, but I understand they are well funded, and offer good scholarships.

    Maybe this type of arrangement with MLS clubs makes sense. After all, not all of the players who go to Bradenton, or any other academy, are going to make it in the pros, so they need to focus on education as well as soccer.
  16. Fulham Fan

    Fulham Fan New Member

    Apr 26, 2004
    Bay Area
    I thinks MLS would have to offer to pay for his matriculation. Also, perhaps say that MLS players are not exactly wild and woolly millionaires. If anything, his maturation might go better around them than on a campus with a bunch of party animals shouting through the walls. He can postpone school and then return to it older, live in an apartment, and get a better, more focused education (which older students basically do).
  17. MasterShake29

    MasterShake29 Member+

    Oct 28, 2001
    Jersey City, NJ
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    As far as the college/pro thing, just make it so that MLS will help pay for the kid's college education. And if it can be worked out that the kid can do both simultaneously, then more power to him. For example, MetroStars will be playing within a couple miles of a bunch of colleges, so I'd see no reason why a 18 year old on the youth roster couldn't attend one (even if it's part-time) while playing.
  18. Onionsack

    Onionsack BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Jul 21, 2003
    New York City
    FC Girondins de Bordeaux
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The Metro Youth Acadamy is kick ass so this would be workable for us. We have a U-14, U-16 and a U-18 team. The U-16's just won the national championship and the U-18's played in the national final and finished 2nd in the Dallas Cup. I think Metro have the model for how to accomplish this and with more guidance and investment from MLS it could become quite an acadamy for the best young soccer stars in the North Jersey, NY metro area.

    Any youth sytem graduate who doesn't quite have what it takes to make the top level would still be a heavily recruited college soccer player, based on the training he has had and skill sets he has developed. I would bet that maybe only a small percentage of these grads will go right to the reserves the rest will either try to catch on somewhere else or go to college and try their luck with MLS again in the Draft.
  19. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    ? I see no Metro team listed as participating at the 2005 nationals, nor at the 2005 Dallas Cup.

  20. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Well, that gets interesting. Do you promise this to a 12 year old? I think not, except for Freddy Adu II. I don't see MLS as having that kind of money.

    Do you promise this to a 17 year old? Yes, you might. But now we're talking a very different sort of "youth development" program than the European model. Hell, the European model ends at 17, when the kids are booted out of the academy or offered a professional contract. This is instead a "young adult" program, another version of Project 40.

    Not a bad thing, to be sure, but doesn't seem to me like a replacement system for the existing youth clubs.
  21. superdave

    superdave Member+

    Jul 14, 1999
    VB, VA
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think it will exist, but in a very different form. Even if MLS adds a team back in SJ, a team in Seattle, Philly, Rochester, and Atlanta, and becomes an 18 team league, there will just be way, way too many kids living 50+ miles from the nearest MLS team who won't get the proper development. It might be a seasonal thing, where kids come for the summer and for two weeks around Christmas, or it might just be smaller (in recognition of the fact that many of the best prospects will be with MLS youth teams.)
  22. profiled

    profiled Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 7, 2000
    slightly north of a mile high
    Los Angeles Galaxy

    At least for the Dallas cup, he seem's to be confusing 2005 with 2004, where the Metrostars did finish second in the U19 group (not the super group).
  23. GersMan

    GersMan Member

    May 11, 2000
    That going to developmental academies tied with the professional teams will be a significant change from the current system is without question. That the setup will need to vary in significant ways from what goes on in Europe and South American is also a no-brainer.

    BUT - when i talke to kids aged 13-16 who are considered top players in their age groups, EVERY ONE of them tells me their goal is to play professionally


    The parents are the ones talking about colleges and yes, in large part the clubs are set up to deliver these players to colleges (the parents pay the bill after all).

    If a pro club has 60 players at a time in its youth setup (that's about the number), obviously most of them will not be signing with the MLS side pre-college. So for 55 or more of those 60, college is obviously the alternative (in UK or Germany, the players would just be cut loose - that will not be an acceptable alternative here).

    So it's key for MLS to have an arrangement where the clubs retain the rights to those players post-college.

    Also, MLS should work to incorporate the existing top clubs and state and regional ODP personnel into the program. If the youth academies become a place to just blindly stick retiring players with no coaching experience, it would be a big mistake. The coaches in this country with the most experiene in developing young players are at the major clubs, the ODP setups and the youth national teams. That's where these clubs should be looking for the brunt of their coaching staffs.

    Furthermore, the clubs should be incorporated into a feeder system, perhaps even allowing the players to compete in LIMITED, SELECT events with their clubs for perpetuate a sense of identify with them. The academies should be places where youth coaches are educated, and the clubs should be assisted from ages 8-14 in teaching kids how to play the game.
  24. GersMan

    GersMan Member

    May 11, 2000
    he's talking about the Y-League re the national championship
  25. Sandon Mibut

    Sandon Mibut Member+

    Feb 13, 2001
    I find the idea that MLS won't be able to compete with the elite youth clubs very interesting. I see the points the folks in the pro-youth club camp make but there are several points to consider.

    First off, if the MLS teams are going to replace Bradenton and we already have kids choosing Bradenton over their youth clubs (including passing on playing in the state cups, regional and national championships in favor of residency), why do we think the kids would pass on the MLS version of residency, especially if it's closer to home?

    Second, presumably, like Bradenton, being in an MLS youth system wouldn't cost the kids' parents anything. Remember, Sunil said the USSF would support these youth teams and I presume he means support with money to underwrite the costs.

    When given the choice between not paying to send the kid to the Fire youth program or paying the fees associated with being part of the Chicago Soccers or Magic, plus ODP, you don't think free isn't going to be appealing?

    Third, don't underestimate the role of politics in all this. If the USSF and MLS want this, don't think for a minute that the way to be on a youth national team won't be exclusively through the MLS youth teams. And if the kids see they're getting passed up because they aren't in an MLS system, they're gonna start shifting their allegiances away from their youth club and to the MLS system.

    And, don't under estimate MLS' ability to get great coaches. Each year, the market is going to see a lot of former MLS players, many more qualified and experienced (as players) than a lot of youth team coaches, and I'm sure a lot of the former players are going to stay affiliated with MLS as youth coaches.

    What has more panache to a kid, getting coached by Mike Matkovich (who, to be fair, is a great youth coach) or Chris Armas? Mike Richardson (also a great youth coach) or CJ Brown and Jesse Marsch?

    Now, I'm not naive. This is a huge undertaking for MLS and will require a lot of financial commitment. To do this correctly, they'll need to build dorms, and find a school for the kids to go to near the site. If it's private, like in Bradenton, that'll cost some serious jack. It will be damn near impossible to get parents to let their kids go to a residency program if their aren't good schools to send them to.

    And it's not just the dorms and the schools. There's a need for a staff, and not just a technical one, but tutors and guidance counselors and administrators to work at the dorms and bus drivers to get the kids to school, etc... It will take a signifigant commtiment from MLS and the USSF to do this right. Otherwise, as some have intimated, the best kids will stay with the youth club system because they know it is safer for them.

    And, finally, there is the NCAA hurdle. Since no one can guarantee a 15-year old that four years later he'll be a pro, you need to have the college system to fall back on. That's not just the education, which MLS could agree to pay for, but finding a way to keep the kids eligible so that those that want to - or have to because they aren't gonna be playing pro ball at 19 - can keep their NCAA eligibility.

    The whole college experience being so prominent is our country is the one greatest thing that separates us from the rest of the world, especially when it comes to developing soccer players. No amount of MLS viability or stable youth/reserve/academy system is going to change the fact that 99.999 perecent of the kids who play soccer at the select team level do so with playing college ball as a primary, and often only, goal.

    MLS needs to create these academies in such a way that the kids can still play college ball - and I mean NCAA D-I, not JuCo or NAIA or D-II where the rules are relaxed. And as they're are currently set up, the NCAA would deem ineligible anyone who got anything from a pro club, including housing, meals, travel, equipment, etc...

    There are sollutions out there, but they require creativity, thinking outside the box and a willingness to screw the spirit of the NCAA rules without violating the letter of them. It will be very interesting seeing how MLS deals with this hurdle because without doing so, I don't see the academy system ever really replacing the elite pay-for-play youth clubs.

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