Player Development and Identification Advantages

Program Benefits

For Players

Age Groups

The Development Academy Program features combined age groups where identified players can "play up" within the club structure, as encouraged by U.S. Soccer Technical Staff.

  • Please note the Academy will not adopt the Birth Year Mandate until the 2017 season.
  • For example, the U-17/18 team should include a balanced mixture of 18-year-olds, 17-year-olds and a few exceptional 16-year-olds.


Consistent Training Environments

Development Academy clubs are required to train a minimum of four (4) days per week [three (3) days per week for ages U-14 and below*] and rest one (1) day per week during the Academy season.

*Although the Academy requires U-14 and below to train a minimum of three days a week, it is strongly recommended that players train a minimum of 4 days per week with their club.

Fewer, More Meaningful Games

Each Academy team plays approximately 25-30 league games, including 6-9 games played at Showcases. Teams that advance from the Academy Playoffs could expect to play up to three (3) additional games.

Our game-to-training ratio ensures our players are getting adequate rest. Teams may have one (1) or two (2) games per weekend based on travel, with no more than one game per day.


No Outside Activity/Competitions

To maintain a focus on club training environments, Academy players and teams do not play in any outside competitions without written permission from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy staff. This includes any other leagues, tournaments, State Cup competitions, ODP or All-Star events. Development Academy players for all teams must choose to participate in the Academy full-time and forgo playing for their high school teams.

Full-time Academy players can only participate on their designated Academy team, with only two exceptions: U.S. Soccer Training Centers and Youth National Team duty.

The Development Academy upholds this rule because we believe elite players require world class environments. The Development Academy's 10-month Program allows for a greater opportunity to institute style of play and implement a system according to U.S. Soccer's Development Philosophy. It also gives teams increased opportunities for younger kids in their club to "play up" against older players in both training and matches, thereby accelerating their development.


International Standards

The DA follows international rules of competiton developed by FIFA. These include no reentry on substitutions, the January 1st birthday cutoff, and players playing-up with older teams when appropriate.


Professionalized Coaching

Players receive integrated oversight from Academy club coaches and U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors in their local environment. Developing a world-class coaching system is fundamental to developing world-class players. Education is a continuous process. As the game of soccer is constantly evolving, it is important that coaches are knowledgeable on current domestic and international trends. U.S. Soccer Coaching Education supports the Development Academy in its initiative to require minimum certification for all technical staff. These requirements can be seen below:

  • Academy club directors → USSF 'A' License and must complete the Academy Director's course
  • Academy club technical staff → USSF 'B' license (minimum)


Connections to U.S. Soccer Resources

Talent Identification Opportunities

The Development Academy offers various talent identification opportunities for Academy players through both league play and at events. Since the 2007-08 Development Academy season, 19 Academy alumni have earned Men's National Team Call-Ups and 1,250 Academy players earned Youth National Team call-ups. Over 160 Development Academy alumni have played in Major League Soccer, with approximately another 50+ alumni at professional environments overseas.

  • League Play
    • The Academy connects National Team coaches directly with the Academy clubs to develop and identify players and coaches for future Youth National Teams. Each Academy club is evaluated by a member of the U.S. Soccer Scouting Network at least ten (10) times each year
  • Events
    • Development Academy events are premier scouting venues for players to be identified for U.S. Soccer Training Centers and Youth National Teams:
      • National Team staff members observe every game
      • Domestic and international professional scouts in attendance
      • Online player profile for all Academy players



The Scholarship Program is designed to provide opportunities for full-time Academy players who require financial assistance to participate in the Development Academy Program. For more information on deadlines, the application process, eligibility and program requirement, click here.


Sports Medicine

The Academy provides various resources related to sports medicine, including mandatory concussion testing, requiring a medical personnel at each Academy competition, providing U.S. Soccer Heat Guidelines, and offering secondary insurance coverage. For more information, click here to visit our Resource Center.


For Clubs


Development Academy fees can be broken into two categories: what the Academy provides, and what costs the clubs are responsible to cover. Player dues and expenses vary by club, and we recommend players contact clubs directly for further information.

  • What the Academy provides
    • All Academy event fees
    • Referee fees (U.S. Soccer assigns referees for all Academy games and subsidizes all associated costs, with the exception of U-12 competitions)
    • Product sponsorship of Nike balls and POWERADE stations
    • Scholarships for need-based players
      • The Scholarship Program is supported by the U.S. Soccer Federation 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 requirements click here.
  • What clubs are responsible for
    • Academy Registration Fees
      • There are no fees for a club to participate with any age group in the Academy program, aside from $50 per player and $50 per coach registration fee
    • Development Academy Annual Performance Bond: a one-time deposit of $2,500 per club due upon entry into the Academy. This bond will be returned to the club if the club chooses to leave the Academy. If the club is dismissed from the Academy for whatever reason, this bond will be withheld.
    • Clubs are responsible for all other expenses, including travel for competition, facility costs, etc.


Connections to U.S. Soccer Resources

  • Technical Advisors: Each club is located within a Technical Advisor's jurisdiction, and the Technical Advisor is the first point of contact for all Academy clubs
  • Scouts: the Academy connects with scouts nationwide to provide players with unique talent identification opportunities during league play and events
  • Coaching education opportunities: Soccer Academy provides module courses with specific content targeted at Academy coaches to accelerate the pathway to the U.S. "A" and "B" Coaching Licenses
  • Referees: the 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 and national levels
  • Video: all Academy games are filmed