Friday, January 11, 2008

MLS Clubs to poach non-MLS City's

One of the more under-publicized aspects of Major League Soccer's player development initiatives is the fact that new rules allow MLS clubs to establish affiliated youth teams outside of their own immediate territories. It is a rule that, in theory, could lead to teams establishing satellite youth programs throughout the country.

Don't follow? In essence, a team like the Los Angeles Galaxy could establish and pay for a youth academy system in a non-MLS market, say Tampa or Nebraska, and eventually sign players from that satellite system. At present, the only team to move toward taking advantage of this rule is Real Salt Lake, which set up a youth system in Florida (a second RSL program in Arizona falls under Real Salt Lake's actual territory as recognized by MLS). It should be noted that sources at RSL have stated that the arrangement in Florida is being re-evaluated (it was established by former RSL coach John Ellinger).

So why have this rule in place? It allows clubs that are located in areas of this country where there is less soccer talent to supplement their player development programs.
Worried about big-money clubs like the Galaxy and the Red Bulls using this rule to start building programs all over? Don't be. MLS has rules in place to make that less of a possibility.


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