The Galaxy have permanently shuttered their elite girls’ soccer academy, leaving more than 80 girls looking for new places to play.
The decision to close the first girls’ academy to be fully funded by an MLS team was made two weeks after the U.S. Soccer Federation ended its support of the nationwide boys’ and girls’ development academy program.
“At present, having a girls’ academy wasn’t tenable for us as a club in the current environment,” club spokesman Brendan Hannan said.
Kevin Hartman, the two-time MLS Cup champion goalkeeper who was director of the 3½-year-old academy, will remain with the Galaxy as part of the soccer operations department. Hannan said Hartman and his staff are working to find the displaced players new clubs.
Players on the five academy teams said they were caught off guard by the Galaxy’s decision. Hours after U.S. Soccer closed the development academy, MLS stepped up and said it would fill the void with a youth program of its own, giving the teams in the Galaxy’s boys’ academy a place to play. The girls thought they would be treated the same.
“We had Zoom sessions, at-home workout programs over Instagram and team texting sessions,” said Bella Ballard, a midfielder who played on the academy’s U-17 team. “Not once was anything shared with any players or parents about the girls’ program being in trouble.”
Ballard said she learned of the academy’s closing on April 29 in a two-paragraph email that left “many players scrambling for limited spots with clubs who were already recruiting players from the now-folded USSDA.”
Ballard said she appreciated the Galaxy’s support in fully funding a women’s academy and had hoped it was an indication the team was bringing an NWSL franchise to Southern California. That looks unlikely now.
“We deserved to be treated better,” she said. “The most concerning issue is if the Galaxy didn’t see value or want to have girls’ or women’s soccer a part of their club structure moving forward, how can smaller clubs do it? The Galaxy and clubs like [it] should set the bar, not lower it.”