Wednesday, June 23, 2021

MLS Team Aims To Make Soccer More Equitable With Youth Academy

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It’s more than a chance to wear the St. Louis City SC crest. It’s a shot at joining a program with a pipeline to playing professional soccer.

More than 250 teenage boys are hustling this spring to land a spot on the roster of St. Louis’ new MLS youth soccer academy. The pandemic has delayed St. Louis City SC’s debut season until 2023, which means the organization has extra time to develop its youth academy model.

That model challenges the pay-to-play system that has long ruled competitive youth soccer both locally and nationally. The club is free for any 15- or 16-year-old boys talented enough to make the squad. It’s one of the few no-cost premier youth soccer clubs in the St. Louis region. Parents often spend thousands of dollars a year to keep their kids on elite teams, making wealth key to the development of many young prospects.

“We have that opportunity now to build something from scratch . . .

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