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 FC Tulsa

FC Tulsa Raising the Game for Youth Talent

April 3, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
FC Tulsa News Release

Starting with the Friday, April 5 Home Opener, fans may notice additional players on the matchday roster.

The USL Championship recently announced a rule change that allows home clubs to add two players under the age of 18 to their matchday roster, which will bring the total number of players available for selection in home matches to 20.

Up to (2) players who meet the following criteria are now eligible to be added to the Game Day roster for home games:

A player(s) signed to a professional Standard Player Agreement (SPA), the home Club is allowed up to two (2) players who were 17 or under at the time of signing their SPA; or

A player(s) signed to an Academy Contract, the home Club is allowed up to two (2) players regardless of the age of the player at the time of signing their Academy Contract. Note: Players who have not yet turned 21 at the start of the USL season and have not participated in a collegiate program, are eligible to sign a USL Academy Contract.

FC Tulsa has embraced this new sporting initiative which will offer more opportunities for young professionals and Academy signings to be available for selection - and potentially make their First Team debuts. Currently two FC Tulsa players, Nate Worth (SPA under the age of 17), and Santiago Sanchez (Academy Contract) are eligible to be selected.

It's a move that Head Coach and Technical Director Mario Sanchez is excited about. "Simply put, I think this is a game changer," said Sanchez.

"Not only will two young players have the opportunity to be named to the game roster who otherwise may not have been, but they will also gain valuable experience in preparation for the match during the week up to and including game day."

FC Tulsa is serious about providing a pathway and opportunities for young players. FC Tulsa recently relaunched the Elite Development Program (EDP) designed for advanced players who aspire to play at the collegiate and professional level.

"Through our network and our new EDP program, we are building a platform to identify, develop, and now promote young players," added Sanchez.

The club recently announced the EDP and held a week long camp during Spring Break designed to follow a similar periodization and preparation that the First Team follows in the build up to a match. EDP players watched sessions up close and got to hear from Coach Sanchez and First Team players.

Alex McLaurin, FC Tulsa Training Academy and EDP Director, was glad to see one of the EDP players get called up to First Team training from the Camp and the connection the EDP is already building with the First Team.

"We've been working closely with Mario and the First Team staff on building this program. I'm excited about the collaboration and how involved the First Team staff is with our young players. The interaction with Mario, Defender Alexis Souahy and Forward Stefan Stojanovic has been huge. There were also some standouts from the showcase match like Breyden who was given the opportunity to be invited into training sessions with the First Team who otherwise wouldn't have. These are things that get us excited about the future and make us want to work harder," says McLaurin.

Breyden Brumbaugh was selected from EDP to train with the First Team. Based on the experience so far, it looks as if these opportunities will only grow.

"Breyden is one player who stood out that day. I feel like we are only getting started with developing ways to better identify and nurture the young talent in our market. I enjoyed watching the EDP showcase match at the camp and look forward to watching more," added Sanchez.

"Bringing young players up is another step In their development. We will be constantly evaluating players to see if there are good candidates from our EDP pool to sign Academy Contracts," says Sanchez.

"My goal is that one day in the not-to-distant future, we will see one or more of our very own making an impact on our First Team," adds McLaurin.

This new rule, coupled with the club's commitment and investment in young talent, are indicators that lead us to believe we are headed in that direction sooner than we may think.

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