Five Things to Know About the Launch of the U.S. Soccer Girls' Development Academy

Following 10 years of success for the Boys' Academy, the Girls' Academy launches this fall, bringing the program's mission, to impact everyday club environments while developing elite players, to female athletes across the American youth landscape. The Girls' Academy is part of U.S. Soccer's latest efforts to grow the game and ensure that future National Teams continue to win at the highest level.

Here are Five Things to know about the official launch of the U.S. Soccer Girls' Development Academy:

LIVE STREAM KICKOFF EVENT

The first ever Girls' Development Academy Feature Game will take place in Somerset, N.J. when Sky Blue - PDA (Somerset, N.J.) hosts FC Virginia (Chantilly, Va.) in the U-16/17 age group (2002/2001 birth years) at 11 a.m. ET. The game will be broadcasted live on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy's Facebook Page, starting with a pre-game show at 10:30 a.m. ET. 108 games are scheduled to kick off during opening weekend of the Girls' Academy.

In total, more than 6,000 players in four age groups (U-14, U-15, U-16/17, U-18/19) from 69 clubs across the United States will compete in the inaugural Girls' Development Academy season.

NWSL AND MLS: COMMITMENT TO PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

Nine clubs from the National Women's Soccer League and four clubs from Major League Soccer have created programs that will participate in the inaugural 2017-2018 Girls' Development Academy season. While the four MLS clubs pave the way for developing both boys and girls, the 12 NWSL affiliate clubs begin to establish roots for sustained success, long-term development, and a clear pathway for girls to progress to the professional ranks.

NWSL
Boston Breakers Academy (Boston Breakers)
California Thorns (Portland Thorns)
FC Kansas City (FC Kansas City)
Houston Dash Youth (Houston Dash)
NC Courage Youth (NC Courage)
Orlando Pride (Orlando Pride)
Portland Thorns (Portland Thorns)
Reign Academy (Seattle Reign FC)
Sky Blue - NYSC (Sky Blue FC)
Sky Blue - PDA (Sky Blue FC)
Washington Spirit Academy - Baltimore Armour (Washington Spirit)
Washington Spirit Academy - Virginia (Washington Spirit)

M.L.S
New York City FC
LAFC (LAFC Slammers)
San Jose Earthquakes
LA Galaxy

TECHNICAL STANDARDS: FOCUS ON PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

Following the recent announcement on the completion of hiring a team of nine Technical Advisors for the 2017-2018 season, the Girls' Development Academy is now set to provide the framework, standards, education and support to develop female players to their fullest potential.

Academy clubs have an increased focus on training (minimum four training sessions per week) and play fewer total games in favor of more meaningful matches using international standards. The program prioritizes individual development ahead of winning team trophies and titles.

Teams play consistently over a 10-month season from September to July, featuring Winter, Spring and Summer Showcases and culminating in the Academy Championships. The inaugural 69 clubs were chosen based on a variety of factors, including club leadership, infrastructure, resources, history of player production for National Teams, market and depth of the player pool and more.

2016 FIFA U-17 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR

Of the 21 players named to the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan, nine will feature in the inaugural season of the Girls' Development Academy (10 players from that team are currently in college). Real Colorado out of Centennial, Colo., leads the way with two U-17 Women's World Cup players in Jaelin Howell and Sophia Smith, while California Thorns FC, LAFC Slammers, Michigan Hawks, SoCal Blues Soccer Club, Sky Blue - PDA, United Soccer Alliance and Washington Spirit Academy - Baltimore Armour contribute players to the World Cup side.

Jordan Canniff
Naomi Girma
Jaelin Howell
Meagan McClelland
Sophia Smith
Alexa Spaanstra
Kate Wiesner
Kennedy Wesley
Lia Godfrey
D
D
M
M
F
F
F
D
F
Washington Spirit Academy - Baltimore Armour (Boyds, Md.)
California Thorns FC (Santa Clara, Calif.)
Real Colorado (Centennial, Colo.)
Sky Blue - PDA (Somerset, N.J.)
Real Colorado (Centennial, Colo.)
Michigan Hawks (Livonia, Mich.)
LAFC Slammers (Costa Mesa, Calif.)
So Cal Blues Soccer Club (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.)
United Soccer Alliance (Jacksonville, Fla.)

WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM INVOLVEMENT

Several current and former Women's National Team members are involved with Girls' Development Academy clubs or in the Academy administration.

Best remembered for her game-winning shoot-out goal in the 1999 Women's World Cup Final, Brandi Chastain is the executive director for California Thorns FC (Santa Clara, Calif.), and head coach for the club's U-14 team.

Current WNT player Tobin Heath will work with her club's Academy, serving as the Assistant Youth Technical Director for Portland Thorns FC Academy.

Former Washington Spirit and WNT midfielder Lori Lindsey returns to her club and will serve as the Academy club's Strength and Conditioning Director and as an assistant coach.

One of nine Technical Advisors that will support Girls' Development Academy Clubs is former WNT midfielder Jen Lalor. As a Technical Advisor, Lalor will support Girls' Academy clubs in the Southwest region by providing consistent, meaningful feedback while helping identify players who deserve consideration for inclusion in U.S. Soccer Training Centers and the Youth National Teams.

Coaching both the U-15 and U-16/U-17 Girls' Academy age groups at Crossfire Premier (Redmond, Wash.) is former WNT midfielder Justi Baumgardt. Baumgardt has been with the club since 2008.