US Soccer has created “Development Academies” for high school age soccer players that prohibit those players from competing on their high school teams. This has created a nationwide gnashing of teeth to which I contributed in this space on March 9, 2012 – “US Soccer Gets a Red Card.”
It now appears that the effects of US Soccer’s exclusionary policy have been felt in Michigan, as a new cast of characters played leading roles in the MHSAA’s recently completed Lower Peninsula Boys Soccer Tournament and the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association’s team rankings tilted from the southeast, home of the state’s two US Soccer Development Academy programs, and toward the west and north.
Divisions 1, 2 and 3 of the MHSAA boys tournament lacked a southeast team in the Finals; and the soccer coaches association did not rank a southeast team in the top two of Divisions 1 and 4, in the top four of Division 3, and in the top eight of Division 2.
Certainly, one year's results is not a trend; there could be other factors at play here. And it’s also true that some folks are not alarmed, saying any student lost to the US Soccer Development Academy opens up a spot for another student to play for his high school team.
Perhaps that’s so. Still, it is disconcerting that US Soccer now plans to descend to an even younger level of athlete for its boys development academy and to start a similar program for girls soccer.