Bleacher Report Documentary Takes Aim at New York Soccer Team
A Bleacher Report soccer-based documentary series is back for a second season, and a New York team finds themselves as the subject.
That team is the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, who despite playing their games in Harrison, New Jersey, still consider themselves as based in the New York metropolitan area. The Red Bulls are the focus of Season 2 of Bleacher Report's The Academy. Two episodes of the five episode second season have already been released (links below), and the final three episodes will be released each month throughout the summer.
The series dives into a particularly confusing aspect of professional football for most American fans: the academy. From what I found online, a soccer academy is this:
An academy is when a club/association keeps a collection of players within an age group as opposed to placing them on individual teams. - United Capital City Soccer
Pro soccer teams use their academies as a place to stockpile young prospects, train them on the ways of the club, and provide food, shelter and education to them in the times not specifically focused on playing soccer. Players between the ages of 13 to 15 are usually the prime candidates to join a team's academy, with 17 usually being the maximum age that a player is signed. Teams also have a "reserve" team (think practice squad) and an Under-23 team that players will be promoted or moved to, once their time at the academy concludes.
The docuseries follows the players currently in the academy of the Red Bulls, and viewers learn about their day-to-day routines, their personal lives and journeys to New York, and where these players stand with the professional club. It's a fascinating concept, much like HBO's series Hard Knocks, in the sense that viewers can learn about a new group of players, and potentially follow the journeys of players from the lowest level of their professional career through their peak.
The third episode of the series will likely be released next week on Bleacher Report's Facebook page, for those looking to tune in.