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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.


Aspiration, perspiration, belief set course for LouCity’s youngsters to shine

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - 11/04/2022, 12:25pm EDT

Teenage academy graduates Elijah and Joshua Wynder, Carlos Moguel Jr. living the dream at hometown club

Midfielders competed for El Paso in 2022 Championship season as USL Academy signings

SD Loyal signs Loyal Select’s Duran Ferree to first pro contract

By Staff 09/14/2022, 1:00pm EDT

15-year-old makes history as first local product to sign professionally with club from academy pathway

Republic FC adds Jose Ponce as USL Academy signing

By Staff 09/02/2022, 1:10pm EDT

16-year-old is 10th player this season to join First Team roster from club’s Academy system

Roots SC adds trio of USL Academy Signings

By Staff 08/22/2022, 5:21pm EDT

Rodriguez, McIntosh and Cruz all saw action for Project 51O during successful USL League Two campaign

Indy Eleven adds Hayden Vostal as Academy signing

By Staff 08/19/2022, 8:20am EDT

6-foot-3 goalkeeper was named to United Soccer Coaches All-Central Region Team as sophomore

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

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