Orlando City joins MLS’s new Elite Player Development Platform


Photo by Brandon Connelly / Orlando Soccer Journal

On Wednesday, Major League Soccer announced the structure and teams that will make up the MLS Elite Player Development Platform.

65 former U.S. Soccer Development Academy clubs will join the League’s existing club academies that have previously played in the DA.

The new competition, originally announced back in April, will be a played year-round competition, with the idea of bringing youth development closer together, promoting collaboration between coaches, teams and the league itself, to better identify talent in the country.

For Orlando City, their Development Academy teams will be joining the league and across the leadership board, this can only be seen as a positive.

“I think that that’s a great opportunity for the development of our youth,” said Orlando City EVP of Soccer Ops Luiz Muzzi last week. “I’ve always been big in that and we got Oscar (Pareja) in and we’ve got a whole coaching staff, including the academy, they’re all huge in on youth development.”

“I think this is going to be, at the end of the day, a great opportunity for everybody,” added Muzzi. “I think that we have a chance to make it in a way that it’s better for everybody involved. To be honest, I think that that development needs to be driven by the professional clubs, just like the way it is in the rest of the world. This is a great chance to build something new and better, stronger that will provide players with a better opportunity to develop in a better way and be professional players.”


With Muzzi hiring Oscar Pareja for the 2020 season, Orlando took a more streamlined approach to youth development. Pareja, a stout promoter of academy growth as shown by his with FC Dallas, was equally thrilled at the new development league.

“The passion that I have for that process and development of the teams and clubs since the first years, seeing this league growing in that department is fantastic,” Pareja said on Wednesday during a video conference call. “I see it as a great opportunity for Major League Soccer, to have a structure that could be more suited to the club’s development of the players. It’s going to happen no matter what.”

“The structures may change here and there, but I don’t think kids or parents or associations should be worried about it. I think Major League Soccer is going in a great direction and they have the people around that can keep moving this development and become the soccer country that we all want. I think we’re going to go in a good direction in terms of the structure that the league is putting together.”

For the academy director and Orlando City B head coach Marcelo Neveleff, the move allows the teams to curate players that will be ready for the next level of soccer following their time in the youth systems.

“I believe we are going to change once and for all the development of players in this country with the new platform,” said Neveleff in a press release. “The decision from MLS to continue what USSF started and get it to the next level is paramount on the future of our sport.”

As the weeks go on, more info will be divulged into how the new league will operate and what will be the official branding. There will also be an open application for teams currently wanting to join to apply for the new league in the near future.

For more soccer news, follow the Orlando Soccer Journal on Twitter: @OSJSoccer


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