The U.S. system for youth soccer is unique and has no counterpart in any other country. To understand why this is so, it is important to realize that the U.S. is a virtual neophyte in the world of soccer. Although the U.S. has qualified for the World Cup 10 times, the U.S. Olympic Committee only formally created a national soccer federation after it was awarded hosting rights for the 1994 World Cup. Moreover, even though Major League Soccer (MLS) is steadily growing its presence and is a hot ticket in many U.S. cities, MLS is only 20 years old. Between a young pro league and a relatively new system in place, U.S. Soccer’s youth development program is similarly still in its infancy, with many establishments running in parallel for players.
The U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP) for boys was formed in 1977 to identify top youth players “from which a National Team [would] be selected”, thus creating the first...
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