One question that remained after the Harrisburg City Islanders’ rebrand as Penn FC and affiliation with Rush Soccer was how the team would participate in the youth soccer arena. Penn FC Youth was created at the same time as the rebrand, but the details of how the academy would work were still up in the air.
Well, Penn FC answered a lot of questions on Monday when they announced that both the pro and the youth teams would be partnering with local developmental academy PA Classics.
The partnership will go into effect for the 2018-2019 season and will impact male and female players at all levels. There will be a name change involved here as well, as the U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams, which compete in the Atlantic Division with the Philadelphia Union Academy and Continental FC, will be co-branded Penn FC/PA Classics going forward.
The partnership will not have a big impact on the soccer teams below the U12 level. At those levels, PA Classics and Penn FC Youth will remain two separate entities that will be, “essentially the same as they currently exist.” However, the Penn FC Youth players will have a more direct process for going into the PA Classics Development Academy going forward.
The FAQ on the Penn FC Youth website helps explain it a little better:
- Penn FC Youth players seeking the Development Academy experience will be able to be evaluated for consideration for the Penn FC Classics academy teams through the Penn FC staff and later by the appropriate members of the Development Academy staff. After evaluation, interested players may be offered the opportunity to train with the Development Academy teams or to be considered immediately for open roster positions.
- Penn FC Youth coaches will also be able to identify and refer players who display the appropriate level for either open roster positions or additional training in the Development Academy pool.
This may not have an immediate impact on the Penn FC roster, but the potential for improvement down the road is significant. The PA Classics Development Academy has had multiple players go pro over years including Zarek Valentin, Andrew Wenger, Travis Worra, and Christian Pulisic. And while no one expects a player of Pulisic’s caliber to stay with Penn FC just because he was a part of their Development Academy, it does give the team a chance to more directly scout young talent in what is an increasingly talent-rich area.
Both Penn FC Youth and PA Classics have put out their own releases about what the partnership will mean going forward. There’s a few differences between what each side put out, so those who are interested might want to read and compare.