About a year ago, I talked to Brad Friedel about his plans for a youth academy in Ohio. It was actually still in the process of being built and planned and such. I believe it's in its just completed its first full year or it's been opened right around there. Things seem to be heading in the right direction for Premier Soccer Academies.
The PSA just had two of its year-round members invited to Bradenton for the full-time residency program there - Victor Garza of Edinburg, Texas and Joel Nash of Birmingham, Ala.
I know Friedel sounded enthusiastic about the project when talking about it and how the entire youth system in the United States was ass backwards. He said something to the effect that kids train once a week and play a bunch of games on the weekend and he said it should be multiple training sessions a week and one game on the weekend. He also said many youth coaches were just in it for the money. It was a really good interview and he seemed very passionate about it.
Anyway, here's what he said in a press release about Garza and Nash and the US national team.
“It is a tremendous honor to have any of our players be selected for their current national team,” said Brad Friedel, President and Co-Founder of PSA. “We are delighted to have Joel and Victor further their career playing for their country. It is our goal at PSA to give every player the opportunity to reach their goals and this is a prime example as these two players move to the next level.”
And this is the description of the PSA from the same press release
PSA is the first residential soccer academy of its kind offering full year-round scholarships to athletes in an effort to develop the next generation of professional soccer players. Each year players from across the globe, ages 12-17, will be recruited based on ability and skill level, not the parents’ ability to pay. Additional athletic, academic, and health/nutrition programs along with an assortment of different level coaching clinics, will be offered throughout the year targeting all ages and skill levels. Facilities are state-of-the-art and include three and a half soccer fields, indoor fieldhouse, 5,000-square-foot workout facility, student housing and academic learning center. PSA officially opened August 20, 2007 with the arrival of the first class of residency members.
MLS' development system is nowhere near as developed as Brad Friedel's which is a shame because they've got a 12-year head start on him. And even if teams do develop young talent there are so many loopholes and restrictions and stuff that they could miss players anyway.
Perhaps it will take Friedel and others like him to get a true youth development system in place in the US so we can start seeing youngsters develop like they should right here in the US.