FIVE THINGS TO KNOW: DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY WINTER FUTSAL SHOWCASE

Beginning Saturday, more than 2,700 players from 142 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Member Clubs will gather in 10 U.S. cities for the 2017 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Futsal Showcase.

Here are five things to know about one of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy's premier player development initiatives.

What it is

Futsal is the official five-a-side indoor soccer game recognized by FIFA that uses a specific type of ball to force players to utilize skill rather than size or power. Games are played in a fast-pace environment with four field players and one goalkeeper. Futsal uses a weighted size 3.5 ball to emphasize control and precise touches to develop foot skills. The game is played on a hard court surface with no walls or inclosing boards. Development Academy clubs recognize that in order to play at the highest level, players need to maintain a high level of comfort with the ball by their feet. The purpose of the futsal period during the Development Academy season is to build a technical foundation for players to utilize as they grow.

Benefits

Challenge: players enjoy the challenge of playing a fast-paced game to test their ability.

Touches: according to a FIFA report, in an average 40-minute futsal contest, a player will touch the ball roughly every 30 seconds and have an average of 80 touches per game. In comparison, during a 90-minute full-field outdoor soccer game, a player averages 30-40 touches.

Awareness: play is continuous with quick restarts and an open flow requiring players to remain engaged at all times.

Speed of play: due to limited space and constant pressure from opponents, players learn to increase their perception, decision making, and execution.

Support: with only five players per team, players will instinctively learn better spacing, passing and movement. Players off the ball must move constantly to find and create space, while being mindful of supporting their teammates.

Knowledge: a team of four players plus a goalkeeper replicates all of the basic tactical elements of the game of soccer. A player's understanding of options and support are enhanced while increasing overall knowledge of the basic principles of attacking, defending, and transition as well as learning through situations that translate to the 11 v 11 game.

Age Groups and Locations

The Academy Futsal Showcases spotlight younger age groups, U-12 and U-13, for scouting and talent identification purposes, although all age groups across the Academy play futsal during the futsal period (December through mid-February).

The Development Academy will host a total of 10 Futsal Showcase events for all U-12 and U-13 Academy Clubs:

January 21-22, 2017

Florida Showcase - IMG Academy | 5500 34th Street West, Bradenton, Florida 34210

SoCal Showcase - LA Galaxy Soccer Center | 540 Maple Ave., Torrance, CA 90503

January 28-29, 2017

NorCal Showcase - The Ultimate Fieldhouse | 2675 Mitchell Dr., Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Texas Showcase - MI3 Center | 1135 Ella Crossing Dr., Houston, TX 77090

February 4-5, 2017

Colorado Showcase - Colorado School of Mines Rec Center | 1651 Elm St., Golden, CO 80401

Northwest Showcase - Rose City Futsal West | 10831 SW Cascade Avenue, Tigard, OR 97223

South Atlantic Showcase - Carolina Courts | 240 Chestnut Pkwy, Indian Trail, NC 28079

February 11-12, 2017

Mid-America Showcase - Best Choice Fieldhouse | 11825 Technology Dr., Fishers, IN 46038

North Atlantic/Metro Showcase - Spooky Nook Sports | 75 Champ Blvd., Manheim, PA 17545

Northeast Showcase - Danvers Indoor Sports | 150 Andover St., Danvers, MA 01923

Showcase Format

To align with youth player development initiatives and the Development Academy's focus on individual development, there are no trophies or champions of the Futsal Showcase. To create meaningful competitive games, each U-12 and U-13 Academy team is split into two balanced teams per age group. From there, each team is placed into a group with standings.

Talent Identification

The Futsal Showcases provide a unique opportunity for talent identification where U.S. Soccer scouts and technical staff can see players at a younger age and follow their growth. Scouts can track players and evaluate how their skills in futsal translate to the full-field outdoor game. Reducing physical advantages, Futsal also allows for late maturing players to succeed. Despite their smaller size, players can more easily compete given the game is much more technical.