USA Soccer Development Academy shuts down; 2 area programs affected

Soccer ball and cleats
Soccer ball and cleats (Pixlr)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Soccer Development Academy is shutting down, affecting two area programs who are now without a league to play in.

USA Soccer announced the decision on Wednesday night, saying that the “unanticipated circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a financial situation that does not allow for the continuation of the Development Academy program into the future.”

Two area programs will feel the pinch of the decision.

The Armada FC fields boys clubs from the U-13 to the U-18/19 level, while the United Soccer Alliance has girls teams ranging from U-14 to U-18/19. Both teams are based in Jacksonville.

This is a separate entity than the main Armada U-23 team. The U-23 squad plays in the National Premier Soccer League.

“In spite of this difficult financial decision, we are committed to working together and look forward to a bright future,” USA Soccer said in a statement.

The Development Academy has been in place since 2007 for boys and 2017 for girls and served as a high level program for players with major soccer ambitions. For the boys, it was the main feeder onto national teams.

The Elite Clubs National League was the Development Academy’s chief rival. The ECNL is home to two area organizations, the Florida Elite Soccer Academy in St. Johns and the Armada Youth Academy in Jacksonville.

The Development Academy stressed players becoming “world class,” and its rules didn’t allow players to compete in either high school or Olympic Development Program competition.

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