Development Academy

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The U.S. Soccer Development Academy is a program that provides education, resources and support to impact everyday club environments that will develop world-class players.

Development Academy


Schedule: Academy teams are required to train a minimum of four (4) days per week and rest one (1) day per week during the Academy season. Academy teams will play approximately 30 games per year.
Member Clubs: 88 U-13/14 clubs with 77 U-15/16 and U-17/18 clubs participate in the program.
Selection: Any club is welcome to apply, but admission is very selective.
Teams: Academy clubs participating in the older age levels must field one team in each of the two Academy mixed-age groups at U-15/16 and U-17/18.
Age Groups: U-13/14: Players born on or after 1/1/2000
U-15/16: Players born on or after 1/1/1998
U-17/18: Players born on or after 1/1/1996
Players are encouraged to “play up” when appropriate.
Rosters: Each club must have a minimum roster of 36 full-time players. U-13/14 rosters must have a minimum of 16 full-time players. All players register directly with U.S. Soccer.
Format: The Academy contains nine (9) geographically-based divisions at the U-13/14 age group and seven (7) geographically-based divisions at both the U-15/16 and U-17/18 levels. Each team plays home and away games against the other teams in their division, plus games against non-division opponents from across the country during the 10-month season. The top 32 teams in each age group advance to the Academy Playoffs, where they compete for one of eight spots in the Academy Championships.
Cost: There are no fees for a club to participate in the program, aside from $8 per player and $25 per coach registration fee. The U-13/14 program does come with expenses paid to U.S. Soccer, including player registration fees, referee fees and event fees. Clubs are responsible for all of their travel and administrative expenses.

Following a comprehensive review of elite player development in the United States and around the world, U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007 to provide education, resources and support to impact everyday club environments that will develop world-class players.

The 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 everyday environment designed to produce the next generation of world-class National Team players. The Academy’s programming philosophy is based on increased training, less total games and more competitive games.

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 member of the Men’s Scouting Network at least 10 times each year and each Academy club receives two (2) formal evaluations that provide feedback in 100 categories each year from U.S. Soccer Technical Staff.

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.

To maintain a focus on training, Academy teams do not play in any other leagues, tournaments, State Cup competitions, ODP or All-Star events without written permission from U.S. Soccer Development Academy staff. Full-time Academy players can only participate on their designated Academy team, with only one exception: National Team duty. Development Academy players for all teams must choose to participate in the Academy full-time and forgo playing for his high school team. Please see the FAQ on the 10-month season for more information.

DA coaches

Academy Club Evaluations

U.S. Soccer provides two yearly evaluations to clubs participating in the Development Academy to provide feedback on quality of the club’s developmental environment for elite players. Clubs are graded on a five-star system in comparison to the top international developmental environments. The evaluation criteria consists of eight key components necessary for a club to provide elite everyday environments for player development with technical components based on the U.S. Soccer Curriculum.

Development Academy Key Performance Categories:

1. Player Development Effectiveness
2. Staff Leadership, Structure and Qualifications
3. Style of Play and Philosophy
4. Training Environment and Personal Development
5. Facilities and Infrastructure
6. Respect
7. Resources

How should this information best be used?
The information has a few different purposes. First and foremost, this feedback increases the accountability for Academy clubs to reach the high standards and expectations set by U.S. Soccer. Second, the information empowers individuals to make the most informed decisions to help choose the right long term fit for an elite player. U.S. Soccer encourages families, players and clubs to use all the information available as the current holistic view of each Academy club. Third, the evaluation system helps U.S. Soccer to evaluate the progress and deficiencies in order to continue improving the impact of Academy Program on elite player development. (Please note: This evaluation process should not be used to draw comparisons between Academy club programs and other domestic programs or teams associated with other organizations.)

How often are clubs evaluated?
Clubs are graded twice a year – once during the midpoint of the Academy season and once at the end of the season. Only the end of season evaluation score is shared and applied to their membership status for the following season.

How does U.S. Soccer determine the grades?
U.S. Soccer conducts live evaluations and video analysis at Academy clubs’ training and games and collects administrative information on the club throughout the year.

Are all criteria worth the same?
The criteria receive different weights based on their importance to providing an environment to develop elite level players. The technical components carry the greatest weight.

Who is involved in the grading process?
U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors, National Team Scouts and U.S. Soccer Academy staff participate in live evaluations, observations, video analysis and data collection.

Player Development Advantages

  • Top Instruction
    • Players receive integrated oversight from Academy club coaches and U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors in their local environment.
  • Consistent Training Environment
    • Four (4) mandatory training sessions per week
  • More Competitive Games
    • Compete against top youth clubs in the country
    • FIFA rules (i.e. no reentry on substitutions, Jan. 1 birthday cutoff, players participate on older teams when appropriate)
  • Fewer Total Games
    • Approximate 30-game season
    • No outside participation for full-time Academy players
    • 25 percent minimum start requirement
  • Connection to U.S. Soccer Resources
    • Select teams compete against U.S. Youth National Teams
    • Regular game and training evaluations by U.S. Soccer Men’s Scouting Network staff
    • Referees assigned by U.S. Soccer

Player Identification Advantages

  • Direct connection to Men’s Scouting Network for identification of potential National Team pool players
  • Showcases are premier scouting venues:
    • 400-500 college coaches
    • 25 professional scouts
    • National Team staff members observe every game
  • Online player profile for all Academy players
  • There have been more than 2,000 instances of players being called into Youth or Senior Team events since the fall of 2007 from 72 different Academy clubs.
  • Over 100 Development Academy alumni current playing in Major League Soccer, with approximately another 50 alumni at professional environments overseas.