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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, Super League, League One, W League, 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 both Men and Women's professional soccer.

As players within those pathways are integrated into senior team environments, USL Championship, Super League, 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 and W League will use their senior team to provide their top young talents with 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.

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.


Locomotive signs Academy graduate Emiliano Rodriguez to pro deal

By Staff 06/25/2024, 9:33am EDT

20-year-old was All-Tournament selection at 2023 USL Academy League Playoffs

New Mexico United signs Academy product Jackson DuBois to first pro deal

By Staff 06/21/2024, 2:17pm EDT

18-year-old defender has made two appearances in USL Championship, three in U.S. Open Cup in first season with First Team

Defenders Ryan Behrmann, Ethan Yates join the Jacks on USL Academy contracts

Rowdies Sign Cristian Ortiz to First Professional Contract

By Staff 05/17/2024, 11:00am EDT

17-year-old becomes first Rowdies USL Academy signing to ink a professional deal

How a new rule in the USL Championship & League One is changing the game for young talent

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - 03/27/2024, 8:35am EDT

Starting this season, home clubs can expand gameday rosters to provide U-18 players opportunity to experience First Team gameday, make senior debut

LouCity signs defender Hayden Stamps to USL Academy contract

By Staff 03/21/2024, 8:21am EDT

16-year-old competed for Kentucky Country Day School, has trained with club this preseason

New Mexico United signs trio of players to USL Academy contracts

By Staff 03/05/2024, 1:00pm EST

New Mexico natives Yuto Oketani, Jace Sais, and Jackson DuBois to join squad for 2024 campaign

Indy Eleven adds five USL Academy signings for new season

By Staff 01/30/2024, 1:46pm EST

Trio of Chavarria, Crawford, Vostal rejoin squad, Neidlinger, Ivetic move up from Academy for first time

Legion FC adds Finn Calloway as USL Academy signing

By Staff 01/26/2024, 5:12pm EST

17-year-old Birmingham native joins club, previously competed at youth level for Alabama FC

Hartford Athletic adds Ian Shaul as USL Academy signing

By Staff 01/25/2024, 12:06pm EST

18-year-old was named to MLS NEXT All-Star Game in 2022, was part of United States U-17 National Team squad in past cycle

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