On Wednesday, April 15, US Soccer announced the end of operations for its Development Academy, a staple of the US Youth Soccer system for many years. In their statement, US Soccer said, "This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but the extraordinary and 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. We know that suddenly discontinuing a program that has been with US Soccer for many years is shocking, but these unprecedented times required acting now."


While the news was surprising to many and no doubt left young soccer players feeling uncertain, Colorado Rapids Development Academy Technical Director Chris Cartlidge is very optimistic about what this change means for the future of youth soccer. He reassured players, parents and soccer fans alike on Altitude Sports Social on Monday about the implications of the adjustments.


On the announcement to end the U.S. Soccer Development Academy...

"It was very sudden. It wasn't something anyone expected. Even the guys working at the highest levels of MLS did not see this one coming."


On the new program and structure...

"MLS has basically stepped in to fill the void and provide a new, competitive platform moving forward. So far, they've told us it will be exactly the same structure, for age groups under-13 to under-19. Clubs that were in the Academy will be invited back in. We're actually expecting an announcement this week with a little bit more about the structure, but what is really exciting, is I think MLS has a clear focus of making a clear pro pathway for these guys. They know that exposing those players to the best talent nationally, internationally, regionally, locally, is going to be key to having them reach their potential. There's a lot of excitement around this, and I'm excited to see what comes of it."


On how this new program will be different...

"MLS has been talking to the federation for a number of years about what they think are the next steps for developing the game in this country. It's probably too early to say exactly what those agenda items that will be put into place now versus the future. But you'll see a change, and I think it'll be an exciting change. Something that really supports those young, talented guys, with aspirations to play at the top level."