After months of speculation, U.S. Soccer has officially announced the creation of a Girls’ Development Academy program which will begin play in the fall of 2017.
U.S. Soccer plans to structure the Girls’ Development Academy after its Development Academy program for the boys, which began play in 2007 and now consists of 152 clubs across five age groups.
The Girls’ Development Academy will feature three combined age groups: U-14/15, U-16/17, and U-18/19. Players are also restricted to just playing in the Girls’ Development Academy and cannot play in ODP, high school or any other outside competition. This rule is similar to the Boys’ Development Academy. The season will be held over a 10-month period starting sometime in September and running through July.
With U.S. Soccer coming into the fold, it may mean certain doom for the ECNL, which has been the top league for girl’s since its foundation in 2009. There are currently 14 ECNL clubs in California. Out of those 14 teams, four of them have teams that compete in the Boy’s Development Academy (De Anza Force, Arsenal FC, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf).
The application process for clubs will open in May of 2016. There may be a chance that not all of the ECNL teams in California will play in U.S. Soccer’s new league. Some may forgo the opportunity and a few may not meet U.S. Soccer’s requirements. There may also be new clubs not currently affiliated with the ECNL looking to join this league, as well as a few of the clubs who have teams in the Boys’ Development Academy.
U.S. Soccer also announced that it will be working alongside the NWSL in its efforts to support player development and the long-term growth of professional soccer.
Current List Of Clubs With ECNL Teams:
San Juan SC
Santa Rosa United
De Anza Force
Real So Cal
So Cal Blues
West Coast FC
San Diego Surf