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USL Academy Contracts


USL Academy contracts are a critical component of the platform’s holistic approach to improving youth development in American soccer. Players signing USL Academy contracts at any level of the USL system have the opportunity to experience the senior team level of play at a young age, while maintaining college eligibility

As USL clubs invest more in supporting their local youth soccer communities, pathways from grassroots to professional soccer are expanding in USL markets around the country. USL senior teams in the Championship, League One and League Two are encouraged to identify top local players and provide them with opportunities to compete at a high level by signing them to USL Academy contracts. 

To discover and promote these players, clubs can either establish an internal development system, build a youth network with local clubs, or do a combination of both. By doing so, USL clubs help drive the creation of collective youth soccer communities, with well-defined pathways to professional soccer.

As players within those pathways are integrated into senior team environments, USL Championship and League One clubs will be able to offer the most talented players professional or Academy contracts with their senior team.

This mechanism provides the players ready to go pro with a direct route to do so. Clubs in League Two will use their senior team to provide their top young talents experience competing against college-age players during the summer.

By pushing more young players across the United States into professional environments, the USL will play a key role in improving the overall level of the elite American player.

As reported in July 2020, more clubs than ever are utilizing USL Academy contracts to great effect. See below to see examples of young players who successfully reached the pro level thanks to Academy contracts.


Sacramento Republic FC’s Santiago Suarez called into U.S. U-19s camp

By Staff 07/22/2022, 11:28am EDT

Defender becomes latest from USL Championship Academy to earn call-up for national duty

Chattanooga Sign Academy Standout Yahir Paez to First Team

By Staff 07/18/2022, 2:00pm EDT

Paez become second Red Wolves Academy product to sign with first team

Detroit City FC adds Dominic Gasso as USL Academy signing

By Staff 07/05/2022, 2:54pm EDT

18-year-old Grand Blanc, Mich. native competed for club at USL Academy Cup in spring

Oakland adds Javier Bedolla-Vera as USL Academy signing

By Staff 06/21/2022, 6:57pm EDT

15-year-old becomes youngest player in club’s history, has competed this season in USL League Two

Toros sign 15-year-old Dylan Hernandez to USL Academy Contract

By Staff 06/20/2022, 3:00pm EDT

U.S. U-15s call-up, Pharr, Texas native is youngest Academy signing in RGVFC history

Why El Paso Locomotive FC’s Academy can be the next game-changer in American soccer

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - 06/16/2022, 4:00pm EDT

Situated in a soccer hotbed, the next Omar Salgado or Ricardo Pepi will likely emerge as a Locomotive FC player

Toros add Alexis Gonzalez as USL Academy signing

By Staff 06/09/2022, 4:00pm EDT

6-foot-2 goalkeeper has appeared for RGVFC’s U-17s, U-19s over past two years

Go, Go, Diego! El Paso’s Abarca grabs memorable first goal

By Staff 06/05/2022, 9:58am EDT

16-year-old becomes youngest goalscorer in club history with second-half tally against Hartford

Rowdies add goalkeeper Armstrong as USL Academy signing

By Staff 05/27/2022, 12:00pm EDT

18-year-old Wake Forest commitment is third youngster added to club’s squad this season

Cristian Nava’s first professional goal caps New Mexico’s night

By Staff 05/25/2022, 11:20am EDT

2021 USL Academy Playoffs Golden Ball winner made senior breakthrough in victory against Phoenix

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