The US Soccer Federation announced that it is ending operations for the US Soccer Development Academy effective immediately. The decision comes as a shock, and now the development of future young talent to represent our nation will now be focused on within different competitive youth leagues around the nation such as the ECNL, NPL, and ENPL youth soccer leagues. These leagues are nothing to joke about, with the Riverhounds Academy being well represented in the ECNL, and having several youth players both from the boys and girls sides being called up to national ID camps before the DA ended their operations.

The thoughts of the DA ending operations began after COO Jay Berhalter — one of the DA’s chief architects and a candidate for the vacant CEO position — resigned and Will Wilson was named CEO. That same day, youth club North Carolina FC announced it would withdraw its top girls’ teams from the DA and move to the rival Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) for the 2020-21 season.

The significance: Wilson served on NCFC’s board of directors. Cindy Parlow Cone, U.S. Soccer’s interim president following Carlos Cordeiro’s March 12 resignation, is a NCFC youth director. And Steve Malik, who sits on federation’s Board of Directors, is NCFC’s owner and chairman.

Scrapping the DA might make financial sense for the federation at a time when its reserves are being drained by several lawsuits, most notably by the Women’s National Team equal pay lawsuit that could result in an eight-figure settlement. Federation records show its DA costs have been spiraling upwards, from $6.7 million in the 2018 fiscal year to $8.4 million in 2019 to a projected $9.4 million for 2021.