Just as suddenly as it essentially disappeared a few weeks ago, Minnesota United’s academy looks to be coming back.
In what was described by one academy parent as a “surprise,” Manny Lagos, the club’s Chief Soccer Officer, sent an email to families on Tuesday night notifying them that United has “an exciting announcement” planned regarding the academy system.
In late June, the club cut all but one its full-time academy staff members and placed the remaining staffer on furlough. Though it’s not clear exactly how many, a significant number of families already have switched to other MLS academies or developmental clubs while others plan to do so in the near future.
It was the finale to what parents described as an academy system that was “all about the money.”
But now, it looks as though the academy will be coming back.
E Pluribus Loonum obtained the email Lagos sent to families at 9:48 p.m. on Tuesday (July 14):
MNUFC Academy families and players.
I am emailing to give you an update that MLS is close to finalizing a potential schedule and start up date and we are scheduling an exciting announcement in the next 10 -14 days. It is our intention to compete in the new MLS league immediately.
The timing and logistics of the announcement around the new MLS vision are still being finalized, but I want to assure all of you that prior to any announcement, you will be the first people to know and hear the details of this.
In the meantime, please continue to train and even participate in tryouts for your local Clubs. In the short term and long term, we will be doing much more collaboration with all of your local Clubs. Due to Covid, there is still some uncertainty around when national competitions can start. We will be contacting all of those DOC’s that you play for to make sure they are aware of all that is going on.
In regards to any of you and High School Soccer this year, we will have more of an update once we understand from a Covid perspective what we can and cannot do within MLS for health and safety in the coming months compared to what we can and cannot do in the State of Minnesota.
It is important to note that this new MLS vision involves a much higher level of training and games than the USDA. With MNUFC competing in this new vision, this will be the only MLS Academy in this market.
It’s unclear precisely what Minnesota plans to do surrounding MLS’ “elite player development platform,” which will include 94 academies around the country and is designed to replace the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, other than compete in it “immediately,” per that email.
Equally unclear is the matter of personnel: At least one of the cut coaches has taken a position with another Twin Cities club.
And as many area soccer clubs begin tryout processes, academy families face a decision in whether to wait for United’s new attempt at development or join a more stable — albeit (theoretically) lower-quality — system.
Perhaps Lagos’ reference to “much more collaboration” with local clubs means the Loons’ academy will be a smaller operation going forward.
Additionally, his closing point that “MNUFC ... will be the only MLS Academy in this market” could be a reference to other high-level development opportunities that appeal to families, including Minneapolis City SC’s newly-launched Futures Program or Shattuck-St. Mary’s, which will be part of the new MLS set-up.
Following previous discussions on the possibility of an interview with Lagos and requested advance notice of this story’s publication, Minnesota United has not responded to an inquiry over his availability.