Beginning Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 and spanning over the next four weekends, more than 3,000 players from 153 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Member Clubs will gather in 10 U.S. cities for the 2018 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.

Age Group and Locations

As one of the premier events for scouting and talent identification, the Academy Futsal Showcases spotlight the youngest Academy age group, U-12. While the event itself involves solely the U-12 age group, all clubs across the Academy are encouraged to 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 Academy Clubs:

January 20-21
SoCal Futsal Showcase: LA Galaxy Soccer Complex (540 Maple Ave, Torrance, CA 90503)
Texas Futsal Showcase: Round Rock Sports Center (2400 Chisholm Trail, Round Rock, TX 78681)
Florida Futsal Showcase: IMG Basketball Gymnasium (5500 34th St. Bradenton, FL 34210)

January 27-28
NorCal Futsal Showcase: Ultimate Fieldhouse (2675 Mitchell Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94598)
Colorado Futsal Showcase: University of Colorado Recreation Center (1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy, Colorado Springs, CO 80918)

February 3-4
Northwest Futsal Showcase: Rose City Futsal (10831 SW Cascade Ave, Tigard, OR 97223)
South Atlantic Futsal Showcase: Carolina Courts (240 Chestnut Parkway, Indian Trail, NC 28079)
Mid-America Futsal Showcase: Best Choice Fieldhouse (11825 Technology Dr., Fishers, IN 46038)

February 10-11
Northeast Futsal Showcase: Forekicks Taunton Fieldhouse (223 Fremont St, Taunton, MA 02780)
North Atlantic/Metro Futsal Showcase: Competitive Edge Sports Center (320 S Henderson Rd, King of Prussia, PA 19406)

What is Futsal?

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 of Futsal

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 11v11 game.

Futsal Showcase Format

Aligning with U.S. Soccer's 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 Academy team is split into two balanced teams per age group. From there, each team is placed into a group with standings. Over the course of the weekend, each team will play 3 group games and a placement game; two 40 minutes games (20 minute halves) on both Saturday and Sunday.

• For each win, a team earns 3 points
• For each tie, a team earns 1 point
• For each loss, a team earns 0 points

Tiebreakers: The ranking of each team will be determined as follows:
a) Greatest number of points obtained in all games;
b) Greatest goal difference in all games;
c) Greatest number of goals scored in all games;

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.