Youth soccer’s top event coming to San Diego

Parents with kids playing on local teams in the U.S. Development Academy got some good news Friday: They’ll be saving some serious cash in future years.

U.S. Soccer announced that its annual Development Academy Summer Showcase and Playoffs, a weeklong event each June involving nearly 500 teams filled with the nation’s top youth players, is coming to San Diego County for at least the next two years and possibly longer.

“It’s big, very big, for San Diego soccer,” said Mike Connerley, president of Surf Cup Sports that operates the 22-field complexes in Del Mar and Oceanside hosting the event. “Many of the best players in the United States are from Southern California. But to have all the best players in the country playing in one place is very special.”

U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy, or DA, in 2007 to enhance elite player growth and identification through a standardized coaching regimen – practicing more and playing fewer but more meaningful games against other top talent. There are six age divisions for boys starting at under-12 and four for girls starting at U-14. Youth clubs must be approved by U.S. Soccer to offer DA teams.

The program operates 10 months a year, with practices at least four days a week. Players are not allowed to participate in outside competition, including, controversially, high school soccer. It also can be pricey in American soccer’s pay-to-play model (although scholarships are available), with teams often flying to other cities for league games plus winter and summer showcases.

Not having to travel to a showcase could save a family $2,000 or more in flights and hotel.

“We chose San Diego for a simple reason: We want a world-class environment for our players,” DA director Jared Micklos said. “Everything about San Diego fits our criteria, from the amazing soccer venue, the temperate climate, to the impressive soccer support in the region.”

The 2018 event will run…

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