Three former Idaho Youth Soccer players recently took their talents to the proverbial next level.
Nick Bisagno (2002), Sawyer Luthy (2004), and Zach Moss (1999) all joined US Soccer Development Academy teams. Bisagno and Moss played in the Idaho Olympic Development Program (ODP) players, and all three played club soccer for the Boise Nationals Timbers.
Bisagno is playing for the Barcelona Academy in Casa Grande, AZ, where he will stay for at least 11 months. Barcelona, the famed Spainish club, just opened the doors to their first established Academy in America. Real Salt Lake had its headquarters in Casa Grande until it moved back to Salt Lake in July. Barcelona moved in, and included Bisagno in its initial crop of recruits after scouting him at the ODP Championships last January. When RSL opened its residential academy in Arizona, it was the first of its kind. Barcelona has continued the model, with players living in dorms, attending a local high school, and spending the remainder of the day at the state-of-the-art facility, working with some of the top minds in the world.
“Everyone knows their roles and what to do here,” Bisagno said of the high-level environment he now calls home. “The coaches are great."
Moss and Luthy are playing for the Portland Timbers Academy, and are both living with host families in Portland for the time being. The connection between the Timbers with both Idaho ODP and BNT paid off, for Moss and Luthy. They follow in the footsteps of Terrell Lowe, Blake Bodily, and Adrian Arguello by making the jump to Portland.
“Playing here is an opportunity very few soccer players get and something I'd regret if I didn't take,” Moss said. “It's everything a kid could dream of playing for the Timbers."
Both players have chosen to move to these cities to focus on training and take advantage of the high quality of play and the scouting that comes with it. There is a high level of accountability here, especially from teammates.
"You mess up and you get called out for it, it's the only way us players will get better,” Moss said. “As intimidating as it is, I love it, it makes me better. Here there is no room for sugar coating."
The coaches work to create strong chemistry between the players, while ensuring the environment remains highly competitive. "If you don't perform well one week you will not make the roster for the game," Luthy said.
Practices are described as fast-paced, competitive, and of high intensity. A typical training week requires practice Monday through Thursday, with Fridays spent traveling for Saturday/Sunday games.
What is the Developmental Academy?
Founded in 2007, the US Soccer Developmental Academy (DA) aims to develop world-class players. The DA serves as the top level for youth soccer in the United States, recruiting elite players, with a philosophy of increased training, and more meaningful games using international rules of competition. The academy has 197 clubs; consisting of U-12 to U-18/19 boys, and as of Fall 2017, now includes a girl’s program for ages U-14 to U18/19.