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Real Colorado will join 64 top youth soccer clubs and the MLS youth academies as a founding member of a new boys elite platform. The new platform, which will include more than 8,000 players throughout the U.S. and Canada, will consist of elite year-round competition, as well as player identification initiatives, coaching education opportunities, and additional programming to create the premier player development environment.

The platform will operate with a groundbreaking governance structure that promotes collaboration, innovation and input across all areas of the soccer landscape. Within the structure, technical working groups will provide recommendations on the platform’s strategic objectives and standards, outline competition guidelines and formats, as well as introduce platform programming. By unifying the elite player development landscape and creating a collaborative structure, the new platform will accelerate and enhance player development in North America.

With a focus on maximizing each player’s potential, the new development platform will not only provide high-level, year-round competition for players, but will provide important programming, education and innovation in the key areas of player development:

  • Player Identification
  • Coaching
  • Environment
  • Personal Growth
  • Community Outreach

“We are extremely excited to partner with the MLS and other top youth programs in the country to revolutionize the boys side of the game.  Our club, staff and players look forward to participating in this new platform and the opportunity to test ourselves against the best in the country.  We applaud the collaboration between the MLS and top youth soccer clubs to put in place in place the unprecedented open lines of communication to create and continue to create a platform that will meet the demands of today’s and our future players of Real Colorado.”

The Real Colorado Staff

Elite Youth Development Platform Talking Points and Key Messaging


Major League Soccer and 65 elite youth soccer clubs are joining forces to create a partnership that will transform youth development in the U.S. and Canada, impacting more than 8,000 soccer players. This unprecedented collaboration connects the region’s elite youth academies with MLS’s massive resources. Together, we have a rare opportunity to create a new paradigm for developing world-class players that will help us become more competitive on the global stage and ultimately elevate the overall popularity of soccer in our region.


“We are having daily conversations with top elite youth academies across the country who have committed to building this new development platform with us,” said Fred Lipka, Vice President and Technical Director of MLS Player Development. “There is strong positive momentum and excitement among MLS academies and elite academy clubs to co-create a high-level competition that will deliver the premier player development environment for the nation’s top players and clubs.”

“It is important that player development within this country come from a diverse yet aligned North American soccer landscape. With this in mind, the new elite player development platform will be a collaborative effort between MLS academies and elite academy clubs with input from our partners at U.S. Soccer, Canada Soccer and the College Coaches Committee.”

“The pathway to the professional level for elite players in the U.S. and Canada has never been clearer. This new competition platform will evolve and accelerate player development in North America with alignment across elite academies and the elevation of standard practices throughout the region.”

Informational Comments

A total of 95 elite soccer academies from across the U.S. and Canada – 65 elite youth clubs and 30 MLS clubs – have committed to join a groundbreaking new MLS player development platform as Founding Members. More than 8,000 elite youth soccer players will be brought under the same structure as part of this program.

The new platform will consist of elite year-round competition as well as coaching education opportunities, player identification initiatives and programming to create the ideal environment for elite player development.

Leaders from across the soccer landscape, combining MLS academies and elite academy clubs, will collaborate in co-creating the structure of the platform.

The goals of MLS and non-MLS academies are deeply aligned – to improve the game in our country and provide our players with a year-round, high-level competition, and ultimately develop professional players.


  • Virtually all 95 Founding Members previously competed under the former U.S. Development Academy (USSDA)
    • 65 elite academy clubs, 30 MLS club academies (including four future expansion clubs)
  • More than 8,000 elite soccer players will be brought under the same structure under this new competition platform
  • MLS academies and elite academy clubs will work collaboratively to build out the structure of the new platform
  • Nearly 90% of USYNT players over the past year were developed in MLS academies (55/62 players on U-17, U-20, U-23 rosters)
    • Note nearly 100% of players on the USYNT were developed by elite youth soccer academies
  • Competition platform will be organized, managed and funded by MLS


  • Elite academy clubs throughout the country are more united than ever, ensuring their respective soccer communities concerns are accounted for in co-creating this platform
  • Focus on yearlong elite-level competition
  • Additional areas of emphasis in coaching education, player identification and player programming to accompany on-field competition
  • Clearly defined player pathways


  • Technical leadership group to establish strategic objectives, competition format and guidelines.
    • Group consists of leaders from MLS academies, elite academy clubs, U.S. Soccer, Canada Soccer, College Coaches Committee, and other youth competition organizers.
  • Additional clubs can join through an application process in coming weeks
  • Competition structure and guidelines to be announced at a later date
  • Official competition platform brand to be announced at a later date

Expected Q&A

  • How does this new competition format differ from the previous DA structure?
    • This platform will take on an innovative governance structure which will include collaboration from leaders of Founding Member clubs.
    • Collaboration from a wide swath of soccer leaders across North America will offer a unique approach with consideration to soccer communities with differing needs respective to their regions.
    • This collaboration will establish a better working relationship for all key constituencies dedicated to furthering domestic player development.
  • Will clubs that previously did not participate in the DA be allowed to join and operate under this new structure?
    • An application process will be set up for clubs that wish to participate in the future.
    • All applying clubs will be subject to meeting requirements for admission to participate in the platform.
  • Will girls clubs that were previously included in the former USSDA competition be included in this new platform?
    • The Founding Member Clubs value opportunity for all youth players and will provide additional opportunities for elite girls players to showcase their skills for pro and college scouts.
    • The exact details surrounding these opportunities will be announced at a later date.
  • Will elite academy clubs still participate in a pay-to-play structure under this new competition format?
    • MLS collaboration on this platform with elite academies will not impact their business model.
    • In fact, MLS is committing additional resources to helping long-term financial sustainability of elite academy clubs in order to increase access and remove barriers for elite players.
  • How is this technical leadership group determined and who is leading the charge here?
    • MLS will be working with our Founding Members in the coming weeks to determine the working group areas for the platform.
    • Additionally, MLS, the elite youth academies and a youth development advisory committee will provide input into those working areas.
  • What is the financial motivation for MLS to take over in the youth development space?
    • MLS has a stated goal of being one of the top leagues in the world. To do that, we need to improve the quality of the domestic player pool.
    • Our platform will ensure that everyone who is committed to elevating the quality of the player pool and the game as a whole in this country will be able to contribute to that effort.

October 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  • Real Colorado Board Meeting