The New York Cosmos have been working hard with the goal of creating a world class academy, which is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. The club's COO, Erik Stover, spoke to FOX News Latino recently, sharing some details about where we're at in that process, and what the club hopes to achieve with the academy:
Our goal is to build the best soccer club in the United States and to return the Cosmos to global prominence. These are ambitious goals that require a strong foundation. We believe that our foundation will be built on the grassroots level of soccer in New York and by developing a first class youth system.
We have just started taking first steps on the youth level. We recently announced 19 affiliate clubs throughout the New York metro area and we have applied for academy status with U.S. Soccer. Our plan is to start with three teams, U12, U13 and U14. We hope to hire our academy director within the next few weeks followed by coaches and support staff. We expect to be moving full speed ahead by the first couple of months of 2016.
We are providing a fully-funded academy that is modeled on the best clubs in the world. We believe that it's the responsibility of professional clubs to develop the next generation of world-class players. This responsibility should not fall on the federation. Relying on the federation is an inefficient and ineffective way to develop players.
Our expectation is to develop players in a unified structure that feeds all the way up to our first team. By having one philosophy, one style of play and specific training requirements, we expect to develop youth players into professionals that will be ready to slide into the first team when called upon. If we are successful, then we will ultimately be developing players that could feed into the national team.
Head coach Gio Savarese also weighed in on the importance of a youth setup to the Cosmos:
I think a real soccer club needs to have its technical side complete … You have to have a first team, a reserve team, an academy because you need to make sure that you have a plan. Part of the plan is to develop players that come from within the club; that players that are able to be in the process of understanding what the ideals of the clubs are. I think it has to do a lot with helping the game in the United States.
It will be years before we really begin to see any results from the youth setup, either at the club or international level. On paper, though, there's very little not to like about the way the club is moving, slowly working to begin play in some of the younger age brackets, building from within, and allowing that group to grow together.
I'm extremely interested to hear who some of the staff hired are, and especially, what roll Raul has with the academy going forward. The setup Stover and Savarese are describing already has a far more European feel to it than most of what we've seen in the United States, and really fits with the club's talk of doing things differently from Major League Soccer.