RSL-AZ Joins US Soccer Development Academy


Former U.S. MNT Defender Greg Vanney to Lead MLS Youth Club Beginning in the Fall;

Casa Grande-based Club to Become the 78th Member of the Academy Program;

Minnesota Thunder and Shattuck-St. Mary’s Two Other New Clubs for Next Season


CHICAGO / Sandy, UT (Tuesday, June 8, 2010) – Following a thorough application and review process, U.S. Soccer has approved and selected the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy to join the federation’s Development Academy for the 2010-11 season. On hand during the recently-completed Spring Showcase in Sarasota, Fla., RSL-Arizona will become the 78th team in the program when it begins play this fall. The RSL-Arizona Academy was founded in 2007 as a summer development program for Arizona's elite Under 17 players.  RSL has two additional non-Development Academy programs in Utah and Florida. 


“The ability to direct and control the development of the young players who come through our new RSL-Arizona Academy is critical to our future success,” said Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey, now in his third full season with the club. “The progression of the Academy system in the United States helps us identify and develop the talent that can succeed at domestic and international levels for club and country. Every day during this summer’s World Cup, we will see players perform who were developed through youth academies globally. We are excited that our club will now institute a similar structure as part of the U.S. Soccer framework for American players. This will make RSL a better club immediately and in the future.”


Former U.S. Men’s National Team and Major League Soccer veteran Greg Vanney is at the helm of the Arizona program, and has been involved in the Development Academy during the 2009-10 season as a talent scout for the youth national team programs. Vanney and the Academy staff, under the guidance of Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis and his senior technical staff, will be responsible for identifying and developing players and the execution of the overall Real Salt Lake Academy plan.  Vanney will work closely with RSL assistant coach Miles Joseph to unify the Academy program and the RSL first team. 


“U.S. Soccer’s selection of the RSL-Arizona Academy for the 2010-11 season validates all of the vision, hard-work and support from everyone involved in this process,” said RSL-Arizona Academy Director Greg Vanney, who attended high school in Tempe, Ariz., and played collegiately at powers Florida International and UCLA prior to a 13-year professional career that spanned five MLS teams (including two MLS Cup appearances with the Los Angeles Galaxy) and three seasons with SC Bastia of the French Ligue 1.  "This is an amazing day for Arizona youth soccer and all players who seek to develop to their full potential and dream of playing for RSL or the U.S. National Team.  Through this process we have garnered interest from several youth national team players and prospects.  As a club, our expectations will be high from day one, and we will expect the players to come in focused on their development and fully respectful of the game and the opportunity presented to them."     


The RSL-Arizona Academy is a fully-funded program hosted in Casa Grande, Ariz., at the beautiful Grande Sports World (GSW) campus.  GSW is a 45-acre campus that includes six professional quality soccer fields and a 58,000 square foot performance center with locker rooms, a weight room, therapy space and classrooms all just a few steps away from the Francisco Grande Resort and Golf Course. Real Salt Lake spent nearly two weeks of its preseason calendar on the property this past February, hosting games against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids as the defending MLS Cup Champions began preparations for this year’s title defense.


The Casa Grande, Ariz.-based RSL-AZ club will become the 78th team to participate in the 2010-11 Development Academy season, joining two other new clubs, Minnesota Thunder and Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota. RSL-Arizona will participate in the highly competitive SoCal Division, alongside clubs from Southern California.


During the application process, U.S. Soccer received a competitive pool of more than 200 applicants, all of which were evaluated to determine which clubs had the best potential to generate future national team players. The evaluation was based on a number of categories, including geographic location, history of player production, coaching staff and administrative capabilities.

The Academy program was created to enhance the player development environment for elite youth players in the United States in accordance with U.S. Soccer “Best Practices,” with specific focus on increasing the number of training sessions; decreasing the total number of games while increasing the number of quality games; and maintaining the highest level of coaching, refereeing, and competition available in an everyday environment.

Aside from providing clubs with a soccer-centric environment, the Academy program also provides a platform to systematically improve the player identification and development processes. Over half of the Academy matches are attended by a national team scout, resulting in a comprehensive system to evaluate player, coach, and referee talent.

Launched in the fall of 2007 after a detailed review of player development systems in the U.S. and across the world, the Development Academy provides players, coaches and referees a nationally-coordinated program designed to enhance their development environment. The Academy has improved the training environment; provided relevant, high-level matches on a consistent basis; increased the level and efficiency of scouting for the national teams; and provided players, coaches, and referees with structured programming. For more information on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, log on to