Many of the United States youth national teams will not be playing for the rest of the year. According to a report by Doug McIntyre of Yahoo! Sports, the U.S. Soccer Federation has made the decision to shut down most of its youth national teams until “sometime in 2021” due to financial concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
The teams that will be shut down immediately will be the U-15s and U-16s for boys and girls, the U-18s and U-19s for men and women, and the women’s U-23s. the women’s U-17s and U-20s along with the men’s U-17s, U-20s, and U-23s will be the only teams that will not be sidelined in 2020.
The news of the shutdown of most of the youth national teams comes on the heels of other moves aimed at cutting costs for the federation. Yesterday, U.S. Soccer announced the termination of its Development Academy. Also reported was the federation furloughing several employees, with others taking temporary pay cuts, as a result of the revenue losses attributed to the shutdown of most sports due to COVID-19. Chief administrative officer Brian Remedi and chief talent and inclusion officer Tonya Wallach were among the staff let go by U.S. Soccer, while new chief executive officer Will Wilson is taking a 50% pay cut from his reported seven-figure salary. New interim U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone’s position is unpaid.
The shuttering of the many youth national team programs for the next year can’t be the last drastic measure that U.S. Soccer will be forced to take to cut costs during this pandemic. However, not being able to reboot those programs before next year will be devastating for those young players who need the experience and the coaching to improve to be the senior national team players of the future. Now, it will be a year before those players will get the chance to go back to work.