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When you look at great European players such as Messi, Ronaldo, and just about every pro-soccer player currently playing in Europe — they all have one thing in common: They played for a major club’s youth academy.

Now jump over to our side of the pond. The soccer landscape is what many would call a “hot mess”.

Many talented players get lost in the shuffle as they are unable to afford the “pay to play” system that exists in US soccer and all youth sports in general. So, when the United States Soccer Federation made the US Development Academy (DA) it was meant to tackle this “pay to play” problem that currently exists.

However, it didn’t really do that.

Many clubs still had to charge money in the thousands of dollars. Including D.C. United — a professional club — who charged players “ $2,500 and and $1,500″.

So basically, all that the DA did was rename what was formerly the NPL, as the “pay to play” still existed, forced players to change teams, and further diluted the talent pool from each team; as so many more clubs began to pop up.

With this mess, US Soccer made a good decision in closing the DA.

They save nearly 9 million dollars, and now enable the truly elite players to play for the newly formed MLS Development League.

This allows the best players to have a higher platform to succeed, and the MLS squads to develop their own talent. While at the same time, making the ENCL and NPL — the two leagues under “academy” level — much stronger.

Most importantly, this helps the US National Team in many ways.

For one, they only have to primarily scout 26 teams with top American players, instead of the hundreds of DA teams that formerly existed.

Additionally, now that the MLS clubs have their own league, it will make it more enticing for elite players with dual-citizenship to stay at home and play for their home country.

In a way, getting rid of the DA is addition by subtraction, as it makes the talent pool for players larger, while at the same time getting rid of the young players who may have talent, but don’t have a future role to play with the USMNT.

Photo: SB Nation