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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 both Men and Women's professional soccer.

As players within those pathways are integrated into senior team environments, USL Championship, Super League,  W 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 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 2022, 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.


Indy Eleven inks Diego Sanchez to first pro contract

By Staff 11/28/2023, 11:15am EST

2021 USL Academy League Playoffs All-Tournament selection spent past three seasons as USL Academy signing

Republic FC signs Academy products Blake Willey, Chibuike Ukaegbu to pro deals

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - 11/17/2023, 3:03pm EST

16-year-old talents become seventh and eighth players to sign professional contracts coming through development system

Oakland Roots SC inks Academy product Etsgar Cruz to long-term deal

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - 11/16/2023, 1:23pm EST

18-year-old is first player in Roots history to go through the club’s full development pathway to sign pro contract

Switchbacks sign Academy product Marco Rios to first professional deal

By Staff 11/10/2023, 1:16pm EST

17-year-old recorded two goals as USL Academy signing in the 2023 USL Championship season

Switchbacks add Caden Hickox as USL Academy signing

By Staff 08/24/2023, 2:50pm EDT

Colorado Springs native was 2022 High School All-State selection, has competed for Pikes Peak Rush since 2013

SD Loyal signs local product Xavi Gnaulati to first pro deal

By Staff 07/28/2023, 6:40pm EDT

18-year-old made senior debut for club as USL Academy signing in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

Richmond ink pair of talented homegrowns to USL Academy contracts

By Staff 07/13/2023, 3:30pm EDT

Former MLS academy product, current youth international to develop with Kickers' first team

Detroit City makes history, signs Academy product Dominic Gasso to pro deal

By Staff 06/30/2023, 12:00pm EDT

19-year-old is the first player to sign professionally with Le Rouge after coming through Academy system

LouCity adds Jabari Rasheed as USL Academy signing

By Staff 06/22/2023, 1:42pm EDT

Defender saw action in club’s international exhibition against FC Kaiserslautern, available for First Team selection on Saturday

LouCity goalkeeper Alex Kron joins First Team as USL Academy signing

By Staff 05/25/2023, 1:22pm EDT

2022 United Soccer Coaches All-America selection is fourth current Academy signing in roster

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