The Positive Side of Having a USL Soccer Academy in Volusia County

ZEE Goalkeeper Academy Florida - Goalkeeper Training, Camps and Clinics > Blog > Youth Soccer > The Positive Side of Having a USL Soccer Academy in Volusia County

Florida has a LOT of newly formed USL League Two teams, after the state of New York it is at second place in the nation (alongside California) with 7 teams. Among them I have personally found 3 to be very competitive and one of my top 3 picks is right here in Volusia County. We’re talking about the Daytona Soccer Club.

As for every sports team, like for any business, you’re not going to come out and dominate the league, market successfully at first shot and have the whole county attending your games. There is a crash test course to take and it looks like the Daytona SC is on that path and is taking notes to become a very solid Pro-Soccer team of the future. I mean come on!… A market like Orlando where soccer enthusiasts are in the millions, it took Orlando City 3 years to get a solid base of followers, still today they struggle to fill their stadium.

The population of Volusia County is around 530,000, the county growth is about 15,000 people per year, while other counties are shrinking in population Volusia County hasn’t stopped growing on a year-to-year basis since 1870.

How many people that live in our county are under the age of 18? About 200,000! How many of them play travel soccer? We have 5 youth soccer clubs in our county with an estimate of 540-620 players ages 9 to 18. Doing the math one out of 325 kids that live in Volusia County play soccer. According to the FYSA map it is the 8th lowest in Florida (there are 67 counties in Florida). Out of the 8 bottom, Volusia County has at least double the population than any of the other counties. So, that theoretically puts our county “Rock-Bottom” last.

Interesting data, but I can’t personally give an accurate number, is that around 2 out of 10 children directly involved in youth soccer play for a team out of the county lines, they do so to reach USSFDA or other top level academy organizations.

The United Soccer League officially unveiled its vision for the future of the league’s Academy system, this was in March 2019. The first step was the USL Academy Cup, a new competition that will set the stage for the organization’s first ever Academy League. The Cup is set to take place on May 22-25, 2020 a Tournament in Tampa Bay. Regional qualification is set for October 11-14, 2019 and February 14-17, 2020, respectively.
The new platform will also provide a unique way to bring together the top three tiers of the USL – the Championship, League One, and League Two – allowing academy teams from all three levels to compete against one another and provide local youth with a chance to display their potential.

If this works out, then the USL will expand and refine the cup competition into a true pre-professional academy league model that can span across the whole country. By doing so, there will be a clear youth-to-pro path in each of the communities USL clubs reside… THAT’S WHERE DAYTONA SOCCER CLUB COMES IN!

The expansion and stabilization of the USL in recent years presents a tremendous opportunity to expand the reach and improve the quality of development academies in the US and in the long run, improve the US soccer player pool, trying to repair the tremendous damage caused by the one-after-another bad decisions taken by the USSF and the NCAA in this past decade.

With a USL academy just a few miles away from every Volusia County youth soccer club, is that good or bad? I personally say that it’s actually a good thing… IF all the clubs would be on board to eventually send their best players to the USL academy. However, in the past the local county soccer clubs have struggled to get things done together, so it’s a big bet on what could happen.

However the USL Academy could just take it’s own path or work with just one or two clubs that show interest in the project and still have the opportunity to work with and develop dozens if not hundreds of youth soccer players. The outreach that a USL development academy would have to showcase the players would be on a nationwide scale, something that the local clubs can’t provide and because of the Daytona Soccer Club’s location, parents that are seeking a DA for their children wont have to travel to Sanford or Orlando.

I’ll leave it at that. I am however very keen to see the process on the possible USL Development Academy right here at my doorstep. I feel very positive about it and as a parent of an 8 year old child that lives his life based off Soccer, this would be ideal for his outfield development. I know that there are many parents like myself that would love to see the Daytona Soccer Club make something like this happen!

Rick Zucchi
ZEE Goalkeeper Academy LLC