This morning, New York City FC announced they would be the latest MLS team to create a youth academy. The academy will be led by sporting director Claudio Reyna and youth technical director Rodrigo Marion.
"It is particularly pleasing for me to be involved with our Academy. I am passionate about developing young players; something I was very proud to be involved with as Youth Technical Director of the US Soccer Federation," said Reyna in the news release announcing the academy's creation.
"This is another critical step as we build New York City FC. This is a Club, not just a team and we want to develop a long and sustainable future, rooted in our community. We want to show the world how much young talent there is in and around New York and make sure we are playing an active and enthusiastic role in nurturing it.
"We believe that starting with one team at this age group, we can give those players the best pathway to the senior roster, giving them at least four years playing in the style which we want to establish. This will have the added benefit of ensuring a strong pipeline of talent from our Affiliate Club network.
Last week, New York City announced they were establishing a "youth league" with their 11 affiliated clubs. Those clubs will be taking players in starting at the U-9 level. Now, with the establishment of their academy, there's going to be a straight line going from U-9, through the U10, U11, U14, U16 and U18 levels. The academy is starting with a single team in the U-13 and U-14 level, but that's not where it's going to stop. We can expect further teams as time goes by.
At some point, there's going to be a New York City II USL Pro team (Westchester City?). Those age groups will likely be augmented by the addition of a U-12 section to the DA ranks in 2016, and either another affiliate or the creation of a New York City U-13 team in U.S. Club Soccer's National Premier League.
All these teams will be schooled by top coaches implementing the style of play used by Jason Kreis in the senior team. According to the club, "the players selected for the Academy will be assessed at regular NYCFC hosted Talent Centers and while playing for Youth Affiliate Clubs. Academy coaches will be looking for players both with the talent and character to succeed at the highest levels."
Like I said last week: that's massive. It's entirely conceivable that a player turning pro with New York City at age 22 could've been playing in the same developmental system for fourteen years. American soccer fans talk about what it would take to develop world-class players. New York City is actually doing it. This is the kind of thing that New York City fans talk about when they mention the club's potential.