Central Florida has several youth soccer programs that are a part of the 143 clubs that form nationally the MLS Next. As we all know by now the MLS Next substitutes the USSF Development Academy program that miserably tanked a few years back due to its incompetent administrators.

The MLS NEXT provides (in the most) the best player development experience in North America.  MLS NEXT players have access to the highest levels of competition and to training to prepare them for their future in soccer, either it be at a soccer academy or a college soccer program.

113 clubs are a part of the MLS Next program, 29 of them are MLS Academies and an additional 114 so-called Elite Academies. Overall the MLS Next is composed of 677 teams (U13-U18) with over 15,000 registered players.

Located in Central Florida (under the Orlando City Soccer Club umbrella) are 9 soccer clubs. Up north we have Jacksonville FC, further down is located Orlando City Seminole, to the west Chargers SC, Tampa Bay United and West Florida Flames. Closer to the city of Orlando are located Florida Rush, IdeaSport Soccer Academy, Orlando City South and the Orlando City Academy.

Besides the Orlando City Academy, there are 3 other clubs in the surrounding area of the city of Orlando that are the tree we found to be the most competitive: Florida Rush, OCSS South and IdeaSport. However one overall caught our attention because of its fundamental aspects. That would be IdeaSport Soccer Academy. Don’t get me wrong OCSS South and Florida Rush have very solid MLS Next programs and are way ahead of the remaining 6 clubs, but IdeaSport basically has it all.

We all know that in Central Florida having the availability of well treated soccer fields in large numbers is basically impossible to find. There are close to no privately owned soccer fields or sports complex’s. Most of the clubs leach off of the cities or counties and are not willing to invest in their own facility. Lot’s of clubs are scattered all over the place and this leads to team practices being moved on a daily basis from location to location.

IdeaSport does not have this issue, for the readers that don’t know IdeaSport is owned by Disney that owns ESPN… Yes indeed!… 13 full size grass fields all lit up, two of witch are stadiums with a 2,000 seat capacity each. The pitch quality is close to professional and are very few like it in North America (I’d personally say that it is second only to the Real Salt Lake Academy facility in Utah). The only thing missing at this amazing 160 acre complex is an indoor field, but there is not one full size covered pitch to be found in all of Central Florida.

Then comes the coaching staff and here again IdeaSport have a coaching roster that is formed from all former professional soccer players (mostly from Spain) and all are UEFA/USSF A or PRO licensed. From the Sporting Director, passing by the Technical Director to the Assistant Coaches, they all have a pedigree soccer background!

The most important factor: Is money more important than development? Most of the youth soccer clubs in the United States are out to make big money, pay no taxes (hiding behind a non profit organization) and bring in cheap labor, calling them coaches. At IdeaSport the green buck is not an issue getting in the way of development! The soccer academy is owned and financed by one of the largest corporations in the world and IdeaSport is well known to pick it’s players because of their talent and possibilities of growth and development.

Before I decided to write this up I did my homework on all youth soccer clubs in Central Florida and have been doing so since the MLS Next was formed and in no way am I affiliated with IdeaSport. My conclusions simply make perfect sense 🙂

Rick Zucchi