We're on the cusp of a soccer boom in the United States, and it's clear that that's going to start by capturing the attention of the youth. In terms of domestic professional teams, the LA Galaxy are at the forefront.
There are a number of developments happening in the world of youth soccer, with the organization, players and Galaxy alum all playing a role. This is a major issue that we'll continue to see play out throughout the decade. To learn a bit more about exactly how soccer is developing in the United States, and how the Galaxy is contributing, read the following points below.
The Galaxy are Building Youth Talent From the Ground Up
It's clear that the LA Galaxy understand that they have to give back to the youth in order for soccer to continue to flourish. Like the many football clubs overseas, the Galaxy have youth teams and developmental programs that teach kids and give them a spotlight to learn and grow, as they develop their fundamentals.
The Galaxy Juniors program takes in kids as young as 18 months old. Parents can sign their kids up for these programs, which take place at the LA Galaxy Soccer Center so that they can grow their fundamentals right alongside the development of their mind and motor skills, and learn more about the game as a whole.
While 18 months might seem incredibly early to some, it's absolutely necessary if the United States hopes to compete at the world level in the future. Kids that grow up in countries that take soccer seriously begin extensive training very early in life. They are quickly plucked aside so that they can get instruction that will take their game to the next level, and help them live out their dreams of going pro.
With the Galaxy youth program, kids will learn the proper way to dribble, build their listening skills and learn the game under the tutelage of world-class coaches. As a result, these kids will go their rec league teams with the skills they need to thrive, as they rise the ranks through JV and varsity, and advanced travel teams.
In the United States, kids pretty much have to join expensive travel teams if they want access to the level of competition that will get them to the college and pro level. Learning these skills early, under the help of professional grade coaches and other players trying to get better, can set the foundation for that journey, and can get a spotlight on talent early.
Galaxy-Bred Players Are Beginning to Flourish
The LA Galaxy Academy is far from just a kids' training program -- it is turning out true talent. Most recently, it was announced that the academy has gotten three young players to the elite national level.
Three players from the academy were chosen to taken part in the U.S. Boys 16-year-old national training camp. This camp is hosted by the renowned IMG Academy, a sports prep school that has become a pro factory over the years.
This is evidence that the LA Galaxy program is pouring into their talent, giving these kids a chance to take their game to the next level. These 16-year-old kids will have the opportunity to not only learn from seasoned pros but also go head-to-head with them in scrimmage settings and learn tips and tricks that will keep them ahead of the pack.
They will also have access to world-class soccer facilities, nutrition, and mental preparation. Having the chance to participate in this sort of off-season activity allows these players to flourish at levels they otherwise wouldn't have been able to.
Ibrahimovic is an Inspiration to Young Players
It's clear that the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has paid dividends much larger than simply growing the profile of the team.
His star power grew the profile of the program, and soccer in general to aspiring youth players. Kids that watch him play at high levels for the Galaxy are drawing inspiration, as he's quickly become a fan favorite.
He also gives back to the youth whenever he can. Most recently, Ibrahimovic surprised players on the Thai boys team when he dropped into the Ellen show. He went on the show and praised them for their bravery and perseverance when they were famously rescued from a cave earlier in the year.
This sort of gesture is huge for young soccer players who already look up to him.
Former Galaxy Player David Beckham is Investing in Youth Talent
David Beckham played for the LA Galaxy longer than any team outside of Manchester United. He was the premier star that helped put both the team and league on the map some years ago.
Though he now has his hands full as an owner of a Miami expansion team, which will begin play in 2020, Beckham still has his eye on providing opportunities for youth talent.
He's gathering proposals and doing his due diligence on opening a 50-acre property that will serve as an MLS youth soccer training academy. This academy will both serve as a feeder system for his Miami franchise, and an opportunity to train and grow talent in the south Florida area.
Los Angeles Getting the World Cup Will Create Huge Interest in Soccer
Finally, you can't discount the influence that the 2026 World Cup will have on the youth. North America will host the cup, with Los Angeles serving as the biggest site -- the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
The past few World Cups have had tremendous ratings in the United States, which has sparked incredible interest in kids all throughout the nation. With most of these matches taking place on US soil, you can expect this interest to continuously grow and expand.
North America winning this bid may also represent a bit of a shift in the long-term efforts for the sport to grow in popularity throughout the country.
As you can see, this is a sport that will continuously grow in the United States. You can expect the LA Galaxy to continuously be at the forefront of this growth.