What is the Development Academy?
The Development Academy is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an every day environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players. The Academy’s programming philosophy of increased training, less total games and more competitive games is based on U.S. Soccer’s Best Practices utilized by the U-17 U.S. National Team Residency program.
The Academy also connects National Team coaches directly with the Academy clubs to develop and identify players and coaches for future Youth National Teams. Each Academy team is evaluated by a National Team coach at least ten times each year and each Academy club receives two formal evaluations in over 100 categories each year from National Team staff.
The Development Academy is also focused on identifying and developing the next generation of elite referees. U.S. Soccer assigns up-and-coming officials to participate in Academy games at the local level and at national events.
What is the Scholarship Program?
The Scholarship Program is a joint venture between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Soccer Foundation to help Academy clubs and players move away from the pay-to-play model of soccer. For more information on deadlines, the application process, eligibility and program requirement click here.
How many clubs are in the Development Academy and where are they located?
There are currently 79 clubs that participate in the program for 2010-11. Academy clubs are located throughout the country from markets with a history of National team player production.
What fees are associated with being an Academy club?
There are no team or club fees associated with becoming a U.S. Soccer Development Academy. However, players and coaches must be registered with U.S. Soccer. The registration fees are $5 per player and $25 per coach.
Can Academy clubs participate in non-Academy competitions?
Academy Teams are only permitted to participate in Academy Competitions (League games, Showcases, Playoffs and Finals Week) and non-Academy events approved by the Academy Technical Committee held during the following windows:
- Winter Windows: Christmas/New Year’s Week
- Spring Window: Easter Week
- Summer Window: End of Season (July) to September 1
How is the Academy league structured?
The league is comprised of ten (10) divisions that make up the four (4) conferences.
- East Conference
- South Conference
- Central Conference
- Great Lakes
- West Conference
How many games are played and how long is the Academy season?
Each Academy club plays approximately 30 league games, including 6 games played at Showcases. The season begins in September and commences with Finals Week in July. Clubs will break from league play during their local high school soccer season along with periods of inactivity due to weather.
How much are Academy clubs required to travel?
Academy clubs can expect 15-20 away matches in a given season, some of which will require overnight travel. Exact travel distances will vary between clubs depending on their geographic proximity to their conference opponents and Academy events
Who pays for travel expenses?
Clubs are responsible for all team travel expenses. U.S. Soccer will cover all travel expenses to Finals Week for Academy teams that qualify for the event.
Can Academy clubs schedule ‘friendly’ games during the Academy season?
Academy clubs can schedule such games to provide players with a heightened development experiences. The games must not be part of an organized competition, i.e. tournament, league or camp, as defined in the non-participation regulations and all Academy standards and guidelines must be adhered to during competition.
Who assigns referees for Academy games?
U.S. Soccer assigns referees for Academy games and covers the costs associated.
How does someone tryout for an Academy club?
Anyone interested in trying out for an Academy club will need to contact the club directly for specific information regarding the tryout process.
What age groups compete in the Development Academy?
The program currently utilizes two (2) mixed age groups for competition. Clubs must field teams at both the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups.
Can Academy clubs have younger players complete in older age groups?
Academy teams are encouraged to place players at their appropriate ability level. For example, the U-17/18 team should include a balanced mixture of 17 year olds, 16 year olds and a few exceptional 15 year olds.
Are there any rules specific to rosters?
Academy clubs are required to maintain a minimum of 36 full-time players on their club player pool. There is no limit on the number of players that can be rostered as long as each player starts a minimum of 25% of the clubs matches.
Can Academy players participate with non-Academy teams during the season?
Full-time Academy players are only permitted to participate on their Academy team, high school soccer team and National Team duty.
How does participating in the Academy effect players being seen by elite coaches?
Academy competitions provide ideal opportunities for coaches to scout players in their natural environment. Over half of all Academy matches are observed by a member of the national team scouting network.
- Over 100 different players from Academy clubs were called into Youth National Teams in 2008
- After the first season of the Academy, over 800 Academy graduates moved on to play college soccer
- Professional coaches from MLS and Europe have also utilized the Academy program as a scouting platform