When rumblings about the Development Academy’s demise turned into a formal press release on April 15, it sent shockwaves throughout the New England soccer scene.
U.S. Soccer’s flagship league wasn’t just ending its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was entirely ceasing operations as the federation cited financial concerns. The DA, a high-end youth development platform that existed for 12 ½ years on the boys side and 2 ½ years on the girls side, was gone in a flash. Five boys-only clubs, one girls-only one and three with overlap – totaling over 700 players – were left without a league.
But they all have homes one month later. The Girls Academy League launched the Northeast Conference, and Major League Soccer pioneered a new youth development platform with 95 clubs across the United States and Canada.
The end result isn’t too different from what prevailed pre-pandemic, but it’s still important to analyze what’s unfolded and where it leaves the New England soccer landscape.