Seattle Sounders Rated 6th Among MLS Academies

One of the things to do when reviewing the release of the USSDA/USSF Academy ratings is figure out how the MLS teams rate compared to each other. The Philadelphia Union are hard to rate as their structure is unique at the Academy level. One of the ratings (Player Development) seems to favor teams on the East as they are more likely to get picked for national team games due to a proximity bias and it also rewards teams that sign players that they don't intend to play. Still it is a rating system, and one that the USSF will be using.

The Seattle Sounders Academy is only a year old, as they did not start in the year of the team. They took over a former Academy teams structure and then augmented it with the Sounders/Seahawks administrative and financial structures. Their rating in Funding is an example of how valuable the organization clearly makes the Academy. It would seem easy to rapidly improve the areas of Facilities and Administrative through more funds. Improvements to Starfire would seem to help as well.

It is disappointing to see Seattle so low in Style of Play. While Development can be a bit of a result of organizational theory, the emphasis in Style of Play is on a broader level rather than a few good players. Yes, there is an odd default in style of play to three different formations, but the fundamentals (as spelled out in Claudio Reyna's presentation) are much broader than that. Some of this has to be about strategic choices by the club. Still, in year one judging the club may be harsh, but it was done.

Below is a composite of MLS teams displayed by West and East. Also included are Crossfire as they are local and the New York Cosmos East. They are compiled from the end of year evaluations that are made public.

Component FC Dallas RSL Galaxy Sounders Rapids Chivas Quakes Crossfire
Player Development 4 2.5 3 2.5 3 3 2 2
Style of Play 4 4 3 2.5 3 2.5 3 2
Training Environment 3.5 3.5 3.6 3.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 3
Administrative 3 2.5 3.5 3 2 3 3 3
Facilities 5 5 4 3 4.5 3 3 3
Funding 5 5 3 5 4 4 5 4
Respect 3.5 3 2.5 3.5 3 3.5 3 3
Total 4.0 3.6 3.2 3.2 3.1 3.0 2.9 2.7
Component Revs Cosmos Red Bull Sporting DC United Fire Dynamo Crew
Player Development 2 2.5 4 3 3.5 2 3 3
Style of Play 3 3 2.5 2.5 3.5 3 3 3
Training Environment 3.5 3 2.5 3 2.5 2.5 2.5 0
Administrative 4 4 3.5 2.5 3.5 3 2.5 4
Facilities 4 3.5 4 4.5 3 3 4.5 4
Funding 5 5 5 5 2 5 0 2
Respect 3.5 3.5 2.5 3 2.5 3.5 2.5 3.5
Total 3.4 3.3 3.3 3.2 3.0 3.0 2.7 2.6

The front office has done well so far. But there is clearly much more work to do. Home Grown Players offer teams a competitive advantage due to their lack of impact on the MLS salary budget. Spending on Academy facilities is also something that is much more open.  In the next Academy season (2012/13) Seattle will have some competition with both the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps. Advancing now gives leverage for the future. FC Dallas is the US measuring stick right now. Hopefully the Sounders can change that.

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