FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas was recently announced as one of the founding members of Major League Soccer’s new Elite Player Development Platform, the competition that will essentially replace the now defunct U.S. Soccer Development Academy system.
“We’re excited to be in an MLS competition format with other teams primarily because we’re always aspiring to develop players to reach our first team,” said Chris Hayden, the Vice President of FC Dallas Youth. “We feel like this platform gives them a lot of information as they move through the ranks and also the motivation to measure themselves against top competition as they aspire to play in our first team.”
The platform includes competitions for the U-13 through U-19 age groups and will have both league games and tournaments with international teams. For FC Dallas, the new youth league will help it continue to develop players from the Academy to its first team.
“Our DNA really is that we have a young vibrant first team with a lot of players coming from our Academy,” Hayden continued. “We have a real commitment from our ownership, through our technical department and coaches to develop young talents. So being on the forefront of this decision and being involved in this MLS platform from the beginning with allow us to continue on this path that we’ve committed to and will give us more success.”
FC Dallas has put a major emphasis on player development and promotion over the last few years. Before the start of the 2020 season, the club signed Tanner Tessmann as its 28th Homegrown player—the most in MLS. Under the new player development platform, that philosophy will again be crucial to the club’s identity.
“The development of Homegrown players is extremely important for us,” said FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez, who’s also the former Academy director. “It’s the heartbeat of the club and the Academy is another teammate of ours. We cannot accomplish what we want on the first team level without the continued support and progression of youth development.
“I think US Soccer did a fantastic job of pushing youth competition and the clubs in the right direction. We’re at a time where MLS is ready to step in and continue that structure and I think it’s a positive thing. I’m really proud to see MLS push improvements in staffing, facilities, education and resources for the Academies to help push the next step of youth development in this country.”