FC Dallas taking in $15,000,000 per year off of their pay-to-play youth academy that features 5,000 kids. https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/so...-mens-national-team-fc-dallas-academy-problem "Let's look at FC Dallas for example. They currently have about 5000 kids in the FC Dallas Youth system, both boys and girls. According to people we've talked to, on a rough average they each pay $3000 per year for the club fee (again before kit and travel expenses). That's $15 million in revenue for FC Dallas. Now there are a lot of expenses and overhead FCD is paying, but a lot of those are sunk costs FCD (and Frisco?) paid up front. Sunk costs like building the complex at the stadium. Make no mistake FC Dallas is making a profit off their youth club. Since the senior club breaks even at best, and probably losses money some years, the youth profit is potentially FCD's only profit" Let's take look at another for example the Chicago Fire Jr's system. They have 16,000 players in their pay-to-play system from all over the country! How much revenue is this generating for the owners of the Fire? Colorado Rapids have 4,000 kids... just those two teams make 20,000 more players. These numbers are not unique across MLS. MLS owners are generating HUGE amounts of revenue off of the pay-to-play system of youth soccer in this country. "Why is Pay-For-Play a problem for the US Men's National Team? The problem as it relates to the National Team is that pay-for-play creates a barrier to entry for kids. Effectively, only kids whose families can afford it can play soccer. Particularly high level elite soccer which is even more expensive. You can easily see how this limits the pool of players to only kids with money. Therefore soccer, in general, misses out on all the talent in the pool of players without money, leaving out all the "disadvantaged" kids and that, many people will claim, is where the very best athletes are. For every success story like Eddie Johnson - single working mother, lived with a coach who paid his soccer fees, who became a father figure - there may be an unnumbered set of kids who we as a country miss out on. The second problem the pay-for-play system creates is the emphasis it places on volume. If clubs revenue is tied to player fees then profit is based on the number of players the club has. The more players, the more volume, and the more profit. Instead of putting efforts into creating the best players and teams, a.k.a quality, the incentive for clubs is to add as many teams and players as possible with no regard for the quality of said teams and players, a.k.a quantity. For nearly the last decade, Major League Soccer has promoted its homegrown program as a league-led initiative that will drive both the league’s growth and that of U.S. Soccer by developing talent within its own borders. https://www.fourfourtwo.com/us/feat...-homegrown-players-youth-development-progress Measuring the progress of the homegrown program can be done in several ways. The first, and probably the most important, is how many Homegrown Players have come through the system and established themselves as top-level starters in MLS. That list is not as long as you may think. Despite nine years of homegrown signings, it’s not an easy exercise to pick out a top-20 of bona fide homegrown stars. Another measure of the progress of the homegrown program is whether MLS teams are turning the investment in MLS academies into sales in the foreign market. Fewer than 10 Homegrown Players have been sold on the transfer market, however, including Miazga, Najar, Yedlin, Shane O’Neill and Carlos Salcedo. The DA system has been around for about a decade but MLS has turned this in to a piece of their model for profitability. "Why is Pay-For-Play a problem for FC Dallas? Well in one way it isn't. As we mentioned FCD is making money from this setup. Revenue is good. In addition, in FCD's case, the youth system fees pay for the Academy teams. The FCD Academy is free-to-play as the academy teams are subsidized and paid for by all the youth team fees. FCD needs pay-for-play for the FCD Academy teams to exist and function. The youth clubs prop up the whole FCD system. Side note: Most academy teams aren't free, not even all the MLS academy teams are free. The actual problem for FCD isn't how pay-for-play works, it's that pay-for-play is the system we have rather than one that compensates the club if a player moves to a professional team. For FCD to truly capitalize on their academy they need to see a return on players who chose not to sign with the parent club. Plus they need a U23 team but that's a different column.