Minnesota United restarts its youth academy structure – Twin Cities

Minnesota United announced a restarted youth development academy structure on Wednesday, casting a wider net for prospects in the state while tapping Noel Quinn as its next manager.

Manny Lagos, the Loons’ chief football officer, noted “Quinn’s extensive experience in youth development, particularly in Minnesota. He understands the landscape.

Quinn, a native of Ireland, coached 13 seasons of high school football in Minnesota and led teams to the state championship game four years in a row from 2014-2017, including a title with the boys’ program at the St. Thomas Academy in 2016. He has also coached at youth clubs in Edina and Blaine and at high schools in Eden Prairie, Simley and Columbia Heights, and at St. John’s University.

Quinn replaces Tim Carter, the former Shattuck-St. The frontman of Mary who was fired in June after four seasons at the helm of the growing MNUFC youth ranks. Four other academy staff were also made redundant, and Lagos said they were now “strengthening” the rest of its staff.

Quinn said in an interview on Monday that his development strategy will focus on the players’ long-term potential. The main objective is to develop players who can play for the Loons MLS team at Allianz Field.

“We kept the players motivated all the time,” Quinn said of his high school training. “They always knew they had to play at their highest level or else they would lose their place. Or the boys who weren’t quite at that level right now, we kept pushing them forward, so when they were ready, we took advantage of it. It’s an important part of development.

This spring, United’s youth teams – Under-17, Under-15, Under-14, Under-13 – have seen a handful of players leave the program given the uncertainty of an ongoing season. and questions regarding the Loons’ commitment to player development, some of the players’ parents told Pioneer Press.

Loon’s new structure, as part of MLS, will focus on the U15 and U17 levels and an U23/reserve team. United have said they will invest in the U14 and U10 levels and provide training opportunities for current players with U19 graduates.

Lagos said a “large portion” of players already in the academy will remain, while the size of the different age groups will increase from 18 players to 35-40 players.

MLS assumed leadership of youth systems after the US Development Academy closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Development in this space in this country is still in a nascent state,” Lagos said on Monday. “We’re still figuring out what makes sense.”

Which MNUFC youth teams will be playing this year?

“A lot of it just has to do with the national level, unfortunately, with the current situation with COVID,” Lagos said. “…MLS is still not operational (with its youth programs). They still don’t know when they’re going to do the program.

Given the uncertainty this spring, Lagos has encouraged children in the youth program to practice with their local clubs or high school teams. The Loons continue to encourage this participation.

Lagos said that after the end of the high school season, United would offer additional programming for its best young players. In the meantime, they will train around half the week with their school/youth club and half the week within United’s structure.

How will the club handle potential conflicts?

“This is where you get into the details of a collaboration,” Quinn said. “It’s about communicating well with the clubs and not only making sure that Minnesota United has access to the players, but also to the clubs. It’s about building those relationships.

The Loons’ academy will primarily focus on Minnesota prospects.

“We’re going to be more intentional about how this improves Minnesota’s level,” Lagos said. “…We will definitely continue to (sign outside players). I don’t think we’ll be that aggressive at the start.

What is the status of the creation of a reserve team?

Four years after the start of MLS, the Loons still do not have a reserve team playing in the lower tiers. The absence of this team can delay the development of young first team players. That includes 16-year-old St. Paul goaltender Fred Emmings, the Loons’ first academy product. He signed a local professional contract in January but is yet to play a game in 2020.

“We know that for this vision to be properly realized, it needs to connect the journey of professional players, and our intention is to have a reserve team as part of this as soon as possible,” Lagos said.

This reserve team, which could be operational this winter, could be in a model provided by MLS or in the National Premier Soccer League or play a separate international schedule. It is not expected to be in the immediate lower USL levels.

Will the children of the academy have to pay to play?

Lagos said it would be a “hybrid” to ensure the best prospects don’t have to pay, but also to not create an “exclusive” system for others.

Lagos said one of their “biggest challenges” is that around 70 per cent of a youth club’s training budget is related to securing indoor training spaces and travel to matches at the stadium. outside. This is especially true for Minnesota’s distance from other youth development clubs in the United States.