Two high school athletes enjoy benefits, fight struggles of academy soccer


Photo courtesy Dylan Linton

Junior Dylan Linton beats a defender in the varsity boys’ soccer 4-3 overtime win against Rockville.

Freshman Langston Fabiyi gets off the shuttle bus and gets in his mom’s car. It’s nine at night. Today was a rough practice, and he sighs as he leans back into his car seat. Back in his bedroom, he takes his cleats off and lies down on his bed. His eyes close and he nearly falls asleep. His eyes snap open as he remembers he has all of his homework to do still.

Fabiyi plays for D.C. United Academy, which plays in the league, MLS Next. Fabiyi practices five times a week with his team and has one game on the weekends. His practices at D.C. United last around two hours and they “do gym sessions every day before practice for 30 minutes.”

Fabiyi’s team is a challenging environment consisting of 19 players. According to Fabiyi, “It’s pretty competitive and easy to get kicked off of the team because new try-out players are always coming.”

At times time management can be difficult for Fabiyi. Fabiyi said, “So far we have had a bunch of away trips and I have to do homework at the hotels.”

To help manage his time Fabiyi said, “I do homework on the bus [to and from practices].” Fabiyi said he has been tempted to play high school soccer but he prefers academy soccer. Academy soccer is the highest level of youth soccer in the United States.

Fabiyi said, “I would prefer Academy because you are seen by more pro clubs and college is just a second option. For academy soccer, professional soccer is the priority but in high school soccer, the priority is college. I would prefer to go pro over college.”

Junior Dylan Linton played soccer for Bethesda Academy. He practiced up to five times a week with his team and practices were two hours long. His team expected him to stay fit throughout the entire year. The team consisted of “around 20 players. But only 18 could be rostered for each game,” Linton said.

Linton’s team involved competition between players on a regular basis. Linton said, “Starting roles are never permanent. Players had to compete against players in your position. There are only three moments to sub in a game.”

Linton has been playing academy since his younger years. Linton said, “I first joined the academy system at 11 in sixth grade. [I had] been playing soccer for five years at that point.”Linton’s team required him to travel long distances for away games.

Linton said, “I had to take planes when going to showcases or tournaments in states like Dallas, Florida, and California.”
Linton currently plays for the varsity soccer team. Academy and high school soccer “both have pros and cons. I prefer high school soccer. It’s more exciting and fun to play. The environment is never toxic and everyone is just having a good time. There’s also tons of stress with academy playing at that high of a level,” Linton said.