Today US Soccer officially announced the roster of clubs that will participate in the new national Girls’ Development Academy — scheduled to start play in the fall of 2017 — and that group includes the newly created Seattle Reign Academy.
Seattle is one of six of the ten NWSL teams participating, joining southern rivals Portland Thorns and Boston, Washington, Sky Blue, and Orlando on the East coast. That leaves Houston, Kansas City, Western New York, and Chicago uninvolved, though there’s still over a year of time to join before kickoff.
And two MLS organizations are fielding girls’ academies without yet having an NWSL team: current club FC Dallas and future club LA FC. Those might be hints as to where NWSL could expand in the future.
For any competition that covers the width of the United States, travel is a significant factor — both for financial and competitive reasons. So it’s heartening to see that Seattle will have enough nearby teams (at least by West Coast standards) to reduce the cost and wear of travel. Local soccer institution Crossfire will field a team based in Redmond, as they do in the boys’ Development Academy and the PDL. Just down south will be the Thorns, with another nine teams a little further away in Colorado and California.
Each Academy will field teams in three age groups: U14/15, U16/17, and U18/19.
Here’s the full list of participating academies:
Beach FC (Torrance, Calif.)
FC Dallas (Frisco, Texas)
Real Colorado (Highlands Ranch, Co.)
Boston Breakers (Watertown, Mass.)
LAFC Slammers (Los Angeles, Calif.)
San Diego Surf (San Diego, Calif.)
CASL (Raleigh, N.C.)
Lamorinda (Moraga, Calif.)
Seattle Reign (Seattle, Wash.)
Cincinnati Development Academy (Kings Hammer/CUP) (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Michigan Hawks (Livonia, Mich.)
Sky Blue FC-PDA (Bernardsville, N.J.)
Colorado Rush (Littleton, Co.)
Mustang (Danville, Calif.)
So Cal Blues (Rancho Capistrano, Calif.)
Concorde Fire (Atlanta, Ga.)
Orlando Pride (Orlando, Fla.)
Sockers FC (Palatine, Ill.)
Crossfire (Redmond, Wash.)
Penn Fusion SA (Westtown, Pa.)
Solar Chelsea SC (Dallas, Texas)
De Anza Force (Saratoga, Calif.)
Portland Thorns (Portland, Ore.)
Tophat NTH (Atlanta, Ga.)
Washington Spirit (Boyds, Md.)