The LA Galaxy closed its girls youth academy at the end of April, according to multiple reports. Travis Clark first reported the news on Top Drawer Soccer, saying the Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes girls academies had been shuttered, with additional information from Kevin Baxter of the LA Times on Tuesday regarding the Galaxy girls academy closure.
Baxter said roughly 80 players were impacted, and were informed about the news at the end of last month. A club spokesperson said in Baxter’s story, “At present, having a girls’ academy wasn’t tenable for us as a club in the current environment.”
The news comes as additional fallout from the news last month that the U.S. Soccer Development Academy was abruptly shutting down. While that had been rumored to be in trouble for a variety of reasons for some time, U.S. Soccer cited financial strain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic for cutting the national program, which had boys and girls divisions. While boys programs affiliated with MLS teams will have a new competition administered by MLS to participate in moving forward, girls programs will either need to join the ECNL, create a new organization with other clubs, or go bust.
While I am sympathetic to real consequences and tough decisions as a result of the coronavirus shutdown, this news is beyond disappointing. Despite lip service paid to supporting girls, women and their sporting pursuits, all too often these programs in soccer are the first to go, and the boys academy is certainly going nowhere for the Galaxy. It is easy to throw your hands up and say, “What could be done?” but there are two reasons to support girls and women in soccer: For reasons of equality, and to help the U.S. maintain its status as the top country in the world in women’s soccer. At some point, if the United States continues to cut corners, create and then fold girls youth soccer programs, the country will fritter away its advantages and will no longer hold global superiority in the sport.
Many of the top prospects in the Galaxy girls academy program will be fine, there are several top programs in the area. Some won’t find their new home or will slip through the cracks. Especially in light of Southern California being a complete woso hotbed, this is terrible news, and it’s truly disappointing to see a club like the Galaxy take a step back with this decision.
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