Minnesota United Development Academy


Details Emerge for Minnesota United Development Reserve Team; Academy to Launch in Fall

by on 9 January 2017

FiftyFive.One has learned that Minnesota United will start their Development Academy (DA) program in fall of 2017 with the U-13 and U-14 age groups. A spokesperson with the team confirmed this report. It’s also believed that Rochester, Minn. will be the future home of their USL Division II reserve team. This would not occur until 2018.

In a September interview with FiftyFive.One, newly named United Development Academy director Tim Carter said he wanted the team’s program to be “inclusive and not exclusive.” Carter also said he was looking for a collaborative process with the National Sports Center, Minnesota Youth Soccer Association (MYSA), and youth clubs throughout the state. “We don’t want to be a competitor in the market,” said Carter. He also said it was “important to take time and listen to the stakeholders.”

Tim Carter

Carter has now met with over 50 club directors of coaching throughout the state, according to a source. Some of those who have met with Loons’ DA director have called him “extremely thorough.”

Carter has a solid background in youth development with US Soccer. Prominently, he started the Shattuck-St.Mary’s academy program in 2004. The program was accepted into the USSF DA in 2010 along with the Minnesota Thunder Academy.

United will enter the U-13 and U-14 age groups in their academy starting this fall. The DA schedules are made to allow all age groups from a team to travel together for matches.

“We don’t want to be a competitor in the market. It’s important to take time and listen to the stakeholders.”
MNUFC DA Director Tim Carter

Club spokesperson Eric Durkee did not confirm the Rochester news but instead explained that the older DA teams and the USL team will be more of a “slow burn.”

“We’ve got a lot to figure out right now between the upcoming MLS season and the stadium,” said Durkee. “Eventually we will be bringing in the USL team as well. As a club, we just have to prioritize in our first year.”

USL Reserves

Originally Minnesota United had discussed Rochester, Minn. as a location for their USL reserve affiliate. Then there was some focus on having a team in Wisconsin. A source told FiftyFive.One that talk had shifted once again to Rochester as a destination where the team would play games.

RCTC Stadium

Speculatively, Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) has facilities that could serve the reserve team well. Currently, the stadium seats 5,000 fans, just 500 under the USSF D2 standards. This would be required due to USL getting sanctioned to participate as a D II league. The stadium is covered during the winter months, making it the second largest sports dome in the state with a field size of 86-by-133 yards. It seats 1,080 within the dome.

The stadium was the home of the Minnesota Thunder’s Premier Development League team for the two years of its existence (2009 and 2010).

UCR Regional Sports Center is also on the RCTC campus. It includes an indoor field house, which is a 44,000 square foot facility.

Moving forward with a DA program

MLS requires its teams to have a Development Academy program, which is a very expensive endeavor. A recent study by the USSF DA showed teams from areas like Minnesota at a distinct disadvantage. This is caused not only by travel distance to other DA clubs but the need for indoor winter training and playing facilities.

The DA season is 10 months of the year, starting in September and finishing in June or July. Each team plays one home and one away game with the other teams in their division. They also play a number of games with teams outside of their division.

The philosophy of the USSF DA is to play fewer games, do more training and play higher quality opponents.

Leagues are made up of 10 divisions and three conferences. U-14 teams participate in the DA Fall Regional Showcases and Summer National Showcase, but there is no postseason play for age groups below U-15/16. The USSF DA has 150 total clubs, comprised of teams across five age groups: U-12, U-13, U-14, U-15/16, and U-17/18.

Another feature of the DA is a thorough scouting system. A member of the U.S. Soccer Scouting Network looks in on each Academy club, with every player evaluated at least 10 times per year. When players participate in showcases, the sidelines are often filled with scouts from pro teams and colleges. Each of those scouts is provided complete file to reference for every player on the roster, from an extensive online database profile created for every DA player.

What about the MTA?

Questions still remain for the Minnesota Thunder Academy DA program when United launches their program for all ages. What it will look like, what their focus will be, and how they will handle things like scouting and scholarships are still to be determined.

While MTA’s girls’ program has continued to remain strong and financially stable, the boys’ program has seen financial difficulties in recent years with the high costs of running a DA. Sources report that MTA’s boys’ program has recently been in discussions with Rev Soccer Club to form a merger. No one knows if the USSF will allow MTA to continue their DA program or pull the plug.

Local soccer coaches aware of the rigors of the DA program have previously expressed concern that there isn’t enough talent in the region to support two DA programs. Minnesota also has the Shattuck-St. Mary’s DA program. However, most if not all their talent comes from outside the state.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s hires new Development Academy Director.

With the draw of an MLS team guiding United’s DA programs, it would be a difficult task for MTA to attract the highest caliber players in Minnesota.

Tags: , , , , , ,

  • Matt

    This is fantastic news if true for Rochester. The Minnesota Thunder PDL team was great to have down here a few years back, though it was short-lived. I wonder how this will all shake out with an NPSL team (Med City FC) also getting started in Rochester soon. There is a lot of support for soccer in Rochester, and Minnesota United season ticket holders here, so would be exciting to have this connection to the team.

  • Root

    Speculation. All Durkee did was, NOT confirm the Rochester news but instead explained that the older DA teams and the USL team will be more of a “slow burn.”

    So basically the older DA teams that won’t be coming until at least another year later will be a “slow burn” – whatever the heck that means.

    Then with this, “While MTA’s girls program has continued to remain strong and financially stable, the boys program has seen financial difficulties in recent years with the high costs of running a DA. Sources report that MTA boys program have recently been in discussions with Dakota Rev soccer club to form a merger. No one knows yet if the USSF will allow MTA to continue their DA program or pull the plug.”

    1. How does Quarstad know the financial stability of MTA in any way shape or form?
    2. What evidence does he give?
    3. What source does he quote on that? NONE! Total speculation on his part.
    4. Quarstad again shows his bias against MTA by throwing the Specter of USSF pulling the plug on the DA program. Who’s saying that at USSF?

    Lastly, with this from MN United, “We don’t want to be a competitor in the market,” Well, the only way Carter’s not a competitor in the market is if he brings kids in from out of state to fill the DA roster for MN United, like he did at SSM. Otherwise, where will the kids come from?

    • Brian Quarstad

      Sorry to hear you feel like I have a bias against MTA. I don’t.
      I know and have known for years, many of the great people they have involved with that program past and present and know how hard they’ve worked to make it a good program. I covered MTA from the start at my old site IMS when no one else was covering that information.

      As to the information about the clubs future being speculation, yes it is. I believe I said that we didn’t know what USSF would do if anything.

      My sources come from people who have deeply been involved with the club and even my own experience. I worked as a (free) consultant for MNUFC after they purchased the MN Stars club. They were approached by the USSF DA to take over the program from MTA. The team decided (partially on my recommendation) to pass on that move until sometime in the future.

      • Root

        Look, when you write a news story, you cite sources. Let’s take your disparaging speculation about MTA and the USSF for example. If your sources are anonymous, you write something like, “Sources who wish to stay anonymous because they are not authorized to comment on the topic” and then you go on to write something like, “Suggested that the USSF might pull the plug on MTA’s DA program.”

        However in your article, you just simply speculate that the USSF might “pull the plug” on MTA’s DA program. That’s called Malicious Speculation. When it’s in an Op Ed piece it’s slightly, slightly, more tolerable. But when deployed in something you’re trying to pass off as straight up journalism . . . well, it’s just transparent.

        Imagine you are behind in your mortgage and a rough looking guy standing outside the bank says to you as you’re walking out, “Nobody knows if you’re gonna get broadsided by a cement truck on the way home, but who knows, people die every day.”

        You can’t pretend your total unsighted USSF speculation wasn’t intended to hurt MTA. It just was. And that’s all there is to it. If you claim it wasn’t, you’re being disingenuous.

        Now, lastly, one of the reasons I dislike you personally is that your ego is so outrageously enormous that you are totally oblivious to it. Look at this, “My sources come from people who have deeply been involved with the club” (but you don’t name them, can’t name them, and will never name them because EITHER they exist in your mind, OR, the second you suggest you’re connected with one of them . . . they’ll distance themselves from you so fast your head will spin. Then this, “and even my own experience. I worked as a (free) consultant for MNUFC after they purchased the MN Stars club.” Noooo, you didn’t “work”, you “volunteered”. There’s a BIG difference. They tolerated your presence because you were . . . free. If they had to pay one penny for you, WHAM! The door would’ve been slammed shut so fast! We all know those relationships are, what? Tenuous at best. Further, what boggles my mind is that you claim your own experience, but you don’t actually cite that experience in the “article” you wrote. You want anyone to believe that the USSF could legally just take the DA away from MTA and hand it over to MNUFC to run??? Show me the termination for convenience language in the contract. Show me the “at will” language in the agreement between MTA and the USSF. Give me ANY evidence aside from your word that “partially on your recommendation” MNUFC didn’t already take the DA away from MTA. And you want to say you don’t have a bias? GIVE EVERYONE A BREAK. You wanna know what proves your bias? Where’s the comments from MTA? NO? Where’s the, “5150 left a message for MTA but hasn’t heard back”? NO? It’s because it’s a slam MTA piece pretending to be journalism.

        • Wes

          Hi [root],
          Sorry to hear that you’re so upset about this. This website is not really a place for the kind of attacks such as yours. I am the managing editor of this site and have complete faith in Brian, his reporting, and his sources. Thank you.

          • Root

            Hi Wes,

            Heard nothing but good things about you.

            Sorry you feel my comments crossed a line for your site. My comments came across to you as an attack. I understand that. I really felt I made some sincere points.

            Since you mentioned having faith in Brian’s journalism, I’ll just politely ask you to please address the question of malicious speculation.

            USSF might “pull the plug” on MTA’s DA program. From a journalistic perspective, how do you have faith in that when it’s presented with no references or real context of any kind? Especially in a piece that’s not an editorial.

            I mean no disrespect. Just seeking clarity.

            Thank you.

        • Really?!?!?

          Wow; you have problems. And your definition of a slam piece is insanely different from mine. (I don’t know anyone here, just lurk here from a different state, and keep up with my connections in MN separately). It is clear you have a bias.

          • Root

            Fair enough. Sorry to have upset you.

  • Alex Schieferdecker

    Rochester should leap at this opportunity. The city’s broad goals with the DMC plan are geared towards making Rochester a better and more interesting place for people who move their for work, people who move their for care, and the families of both. Having a pro sports team would be a real bonus on all those counts. If there’s some land for a grass field and a cheap 5,000 seat stadium, all the better.

  • Josie Poppen

    Please clarify…. so there will be 3 DA clubs in MN? MTA + SSM and now United DA?

    • Brian Quarstad

      We don’t know yet. We don’t know what if anything, the USSF will decide on the matter. As I pointed out in the piece, in my opinion and the opinion of a number of high level coaches from MN that I’ve talked to, they just don’t see three clubs being a reality. Three clubs would of course be more convenient but traveling teams usually play two games in a weekend. That has worked well with both MTA and Shattuck-St. Marys. Throwing in a third club upsets that schedule and dilutes the talent pool to make a good strong competitive program.

      • John Herman

        Some toes are going to get stepped on here and I think everyone knows it. But if you’re running an academy in a potential MLS team market, you have to know it’s coming. Are you really going to undermine your hometown team? There’s got to be some kind of partnership that turns this situation into a strength. I can see how the results could improve because of competition among the academies, although that could take some creative solutions. I just don’t want it to come at the cost of United losing out on prospects.

        • CoachFloRida

          You’re right John hopefully all the youth clubs in town will support United’s DA program. There needs to be no partnership though. Just coaches and clubs doing right by their top kids and their families by giving them information and encouragement to tryout for/join United. DA rosters are about 25 kids per team. If United eventually has 5-6 teams we are talking about only 125-150 kids taken out of local clubs. Very few youth teams will lose their top 1-2 players. That still leaves thousands of kids/families to pay the bills and help egotistical coaches and clubs win the local C2 weekend invitational. The possessive youth soccer culture we have here now is so embarrassing that nothing would surprise me but I am hoping for the best..

          • John Herman

            Thanks for the details, I’m still a bit ignorant of how it all works (but a little less so now!). I guess the positive side of the coin is that kids with a lot of potential have more to shoot for now, and that can raise the competition level and push kids toward their full potential. Rising tide and all that.

          • CurtisPomeroy

            The MN Youth Soccer Assn website lists 139 member clubs. As a point of comparison, the current Atlanta United academy rosters at U13 and U14 are 22 players per team. If you use the current ODP Region II pool players and the summer and fall state tournament results as proxies, the talent (at least in term of boys) is relatively widely distributed across the metro and out-state. I am guessing that 13-17 clubs will be impacted at each age group by players leaving to join the DA and the catchment area will undoubtedly extend beyond the 139 MNYSA clubs. Ideally, Tim Carter can clearly define and enunciate the style of play they want to establish for the DA and communicate it to coaches and club administrators throughout the region. Within a couple of years it will be come a point of pride for clubs who are represented on the DA teams and an effective way to attract talented athletes to clubs and keep them motivated to stay in the sport and keep improving.

          • Clark Starr

            Curious if there are many youth teams that exist outside of that 139? Are there, for example, latino leagues that aren’t part of MYSA?