The US Youth Soccer Olympic Development program (or ODP) is something that is talked about quite a bit here in Southern California, but the name can be a little bit confusing. If your child gets selected it doesn’t mean they will definitely be wearing an Olympic gold medal, but it is a nationwide program intended to identify and develop high-level soccer players throughout the country.
From their website…
The US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program was formed in 1977 to identify a pool of players in each age group from which a National Team will be selected for international competition; to provide high-level training to benefit and enhance the development of players at all levels; and, through the use of carefully selected and licensed coaches, develop a mechanism for the exchange of ideas and curriculum to improve all levels of coaching.
Most states have open tryouts for ODP, but here in Southern California, players are scouted during State/National Cup as well as being recommended by coaches for the yearly birth year “pool” of players starting at age 12. The entire pool of players is invited to a weekend training where cuts will be made until there only a team of girls for that birth year. It’s considered prestigious to be selected here in Southern California, but I’ve heard that it isn’t the same in other states. I can’t speak for anyone else though (Although Cal South won 8 out of 10 titles in the regional championships so it makes sense if we are taking it more seriously!)
ODP players are invited to participate in different regional camps, championships and possibly national camps with exposure to National Team coaches. State teams also may go on to participate in regional and national championships.
Cal South also has what they call the “Pro +” program which is basically an extension of ODP. Cal South Pro+ teams still compete in ODP events, but they also are expanding camps and invitational events in Southern California. It also eliminates some of the very expensive ODP events (such as travel to the regional camps) to host events locally in Southern California. Read this FAQ page for more specific information.
“We are incredibly proud of our history of success in placing players into the national team programs and winning national championships, but this is about taking a strong program and making it even better, said Steve Hoffman, Cal South’s Director of Coaching and Player Development. “One of the great strengths of the Pro+ program is that it allows us to concentrate our resources on Southern California. Our camps and pools will be held here with U.S. Soccer scouts and coaches coming to see, evaluate and work with our players at local facilities. This also allows us to expand our professional scouting system and Pro+ will now involve more players, including those from underserved communities. Players that might have been missed or excluded will now be seen and included.”
A friend recently asked me what the difference between ODP and ECNL was and if you could do both. At first I thought it was kind of an odd question because they are so different, but here’s a pretty basic answer..
ECNL is a league that is club based and for girls only. The teams from the ECNL clubs play each other in a two part league during the fall and late winter/spring. Teams travel for league play and showcase games.
ODP is regionally based and individual players are eligible, not certain teams or clubs and is for both boys and girls. ODP players remain with their club teams, but participate in special camps and programs on a occasional basis.
Yes, girls technically can do both, but coordination could be difficult. Some coaches discourage their players from participating in ODP because it might interfere with club practice/games.
Girls and Boys in the US Soccer Development Academy program are not allowed to participate in ODP.