U.S. Soccer officially shuts down Development Academy due to coronavirus

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy is officially shutting its doors.

U.S. Soccer terminated its primary youth development program for both boys and girls on Wednesday afternoon due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial strain the outbreak has put on the organization.

“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,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement, in part. “We know that suddenly discontinuing a program that has been with U.S. Soccer for many years is shocking, but these unprecedented times required acting now.”

The Development Academy, which was founded in 2007, included hundreds of boys and girls teams from under-13 to under-19 age groups. The season was shut down early due to the coronavirus outbreak, and had no plans to restart. The 2020-21 season was due to start in September.

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All 26 Major League Soccer teams participated in the Development Academy, too. MLS did, however, announce Wednesday afternoon it was launching a new elite youth competition platform for both MLS club academy teams and non-academy teams, which will nominally replace the Development Academy. It will include both league season matches and tournaments in a year-round schedule.

“Participating in high quality, competitive matches on a consistent basis is essential to the development of our young players,” Fred Lipka, vice president of MLS player development, said in a statement. “Launching this new competition will allow us to consistently challenge players, staffs and teams, optimizing the potential of every player on the field.”

There were more than 633,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States as of Tuesday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 28,000 deaths attributed to the virus. The MLS season was suspended after just two matchdays due to the coronavirus, and has no timeline to restart.

U.S. Soccer fires two executives

Along with cutting its Development Academy, U.S. Soccer fired a pair of top executives.

Chief administration officer Brian Remedi and chief talent and inclusion officer Tonya Wallach were fired on Wednesday, too, according to Soccer America.

Wallach was hired to her position in 2017. Remedi had essentially held the top executive position in the company since CEO Dan Flynn retired last year. Flynn was replaced by Will Wilson late last month. Remedi was one of the highest-paid executives at U.S. Soccer, too, and brought home more than $360,000 in 2019, per the report.

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