MLS Adds Albany Youth Club To Development Platform

Black Watch Premier Albany becomes elite academy for top U.S. league

Mark Singelais

Aug. 4, 2020 | Updated August 4th, 2020

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An Albany youth soccer club was added Tuesday to Major League Soccer’s newly created elite youth development platform.

Black Watch Premier Albany becomes one of 113 participating academies in the network launched by MLS in May after the U.S. Soccer Development Academy was shut down. MLS is taking the lead in elite youth development in the United States and Canada, according to a news release.

Black Watch Premier Albany sporting director Steve Freeman, who founded the club in 1997, said their 13- and 14-year-old teams will become part of the national league that will have MLS academy teams as well as elite academies all over the U.S. and Canada.

"Our kids are going to have that access of the week-in, week-out competition which then gives great information for our coaches then to go to work during the training week as well as it supports our methodology and all the things we've been doing over the course of the last 24 years," Freeman said.

Freeman, who played at Hartwick and Siena, said his club will have national team and MLS academy scouts at games.

"If we're successful and we grow the way we need to competitively and the scope of our program increases, obviously you're talking about our older players having the potential to be a professional player down the line and never having to leave home, which is a huge, huge benefit," he said.

Black Watch Premier Albany has about 300 players from under-6 to under-19, Freeman said. He added the club tried repeatedly to get into US Soccer's development academy without success before applying to the new MLS platform.