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USA Soccer announces it will build a training facility and headquarters in the Atlanta area

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Football Announced Friday It will build a national training facility in the Atlanta metropolitan area funded in part by a $50 million donation from Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank.

The union has not yet determined the exact location of the facility, but hopes to begin construction next year. US Soccer CEO JT Batson is currently leading the search for the site, which will be selected in January 2024.

The organization also has not set a target date for the opening of the facility, which will serve as the headquarters for the US Soccer Federation, currently headquartered in Chicago. It will include training grounds, training facilities, referee education, recovery and performance analysis and other infrastructure. It will also host youth tournaments and football conferences.

“America’s top athletes deserve the best when it comes to preparing them to compete on the world stage, and I am thrilled that USA Soccer has chosen metro Atlanta as its new home,” Blank said in a statement. “Atlanta’s incredible passion for soccer, corporate community and unparalleled infrastructure make this a natural home for a National Training Center and I’m very confident that our community will help America’s best soccer players compete on a global level like never before. I’m also thrilled Helping US Soccer with community outreach and soccer development among underserved communities is part of our contribution and I know it will benefit dozens of young people by engaging with the beautiful game for generations to come.

The athlete It was reported in February that the US Soccer Federation was considering Atlanta and Cary, North Carolina, for its own training facility. Cary’s proposal would have used existing infrastructure at WakeMed Park. The federation had previously said in an email in late 2022 to donors that it needed to raise $300 million for the training center, which would include 14 or more training areas. USA Soccer continues fundraising to raise money to build the new training center.

How will the USMNT and USWNT use the facility?

That remains to be seen. While many European countries use their national training facilities as centers for top teams during international windows, the size of the United States can make this difficult. US Soccer will have to add an additional travel period for players coming from Europe or their local clubs to train for a few days before traveling to a game in another state. The U.S. men’s national team typically hosts its January training camp in Los Angeles, and it would likely be difficult to move that camp to Atlanta in the middle of winter.

USMNT and USWNT players spoke in favor of the development in US Soccer’s announcement.

“Being a part of US Soccer for so long and never having a central training location makes this a really exciting project,” said USWNT defender Kelly O’Hara. “I think this will help the federation and all the national teams become more cohesive.”

“I think this will be great for us… It’s similar to the academy systems, where young kids can see what they can be and where they can go, and it’s all very interconnected,” said USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie. “You see that the best countries around the world have their own facilities, so it will be good for us to have a base where we can come together and continue working towards being our best.”

U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter previously expressed support for establishing a national training center. Speaking last year during January camp, Berhalter said it was “helpful” for the union to have a facility “not only for the consistency of the first team, but also for all the other teams to have the ability to be there as well.”

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“I’ve been around the world and I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the national training facilities in other countries, like St. George’s in England,” Berhalter said. “It’s a laboratory, man. You see all the coaches interacting, you see the teams there, and the players really feel at home.

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Will all American soccer be completely moved to Atlanta?

It is not clear whether US Soccer will ask all of its employees to move from Chicago to Atlanta. The union previously required employees to live in Chicago, though it did not always enforce that rule across the board. The union has about 250 employees based in Chicago, including most of its NFL coaches. The association moved to Chicago in 1991, and was previously based in two renovated mansions in the South Loop, dubbed the “Football Building.” The organization moved from the Soccer House last summer to an office building in downtown Chicago. She sold Soccer House for $3.9 million in August.

The timing of the move to a new facility will also be interesting in light of the fact that US Soccer is co-hosting the 2026 World Cup. Whether US Soccer will move to a new city while simultaneously planning the tournament remains uncertain. Barlow conn He said previously It would be “ideal to have a national training center ready before the World Cup in ’26.”

US Soccer has other facilities in Los Angeles and Kansas City, Kansas which it shares with the LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City respectively. The facility in Kansas City is particularly helpful in training and teaching referees. The USA used the Los Angeles facility for January camps, and previously had offices for its athletic staff there. The Atlanta facility will be a designated home for the union.

How else will the facility be used?

All 27 national teams are expected to use the facility, but it will likely have the greatest impact on the expanded national teams and youth national teams by providing a unique center for camps.

Blank, 80, allocated part of his donation to build facilities for the expanded national teams, especially the cerebral palsy, deaf and strength national football teams, including locker rooms and training facilities. The statement also said that Blake’s contribution will enhance “support for women’s youth national team camps and women’s coaching and mentoring initiatives.”

The release says support from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation will provide community programming to benefit soccer-focused nonprofits in the Atlanta area, including Soccer in the Streets and GA 100 to provide access, training and coaching opportunities to underserved communities.

The new facility will also include a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Innovation Lab that will serve as “an incubator and funder for the best and most effective Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging projects to impact lives,” the 2022 fundraising email said. And changing the fuel across the football landscape.

“This national training center will accelerate the growth of soccer in this country and represents a commitment to developing elite soccer players for decades to come,” Cindy Barlow Cooney, president of US Soccer, said in a statement. “Investing in our youth and adult programs as well as our expanded national teams reflects our commitment to ensuring that players of all ages and backgrounds can find a home and thrive in the sport. These investments are a signal to players, coaches, referees, members and fans that the future of US Soccer is bright.”

(Photo: John Dorton/USSF/Getty Images for USSF).

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