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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 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.


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

Republic FC adds Ezekiel Padilla as USL Academy signing

By Staff 05/25/2023, 1:10pm EDT

Local product will be available for remainder of the 2023 season after starring for club’s U-17 squad

Defender was called up for pre-tournament training camp, earned place in final 21-man roster as event kicks off Wednesday

Rising FC adds Glendale native Jack Ramirez as USL Academy signing

By Staff 05/12/2023, 8:38pm EDT

16-year-old midfielder becomes fifth academy player to join club’s First Team this season

Orange County adds midfielder Ben Norris as USL Academy signing

By Staff 04/21/2023, 6:42am EDT

16-year-old played for club at 2022 USL Academy League Finals, joins three other Academy signings in squad

Why Joshua Wynder’s USMNT call-up is a ‘gamechanger’

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - 04/18/2023, 12:02pm EDT

ESPN’s Herculez Gomez sees LouCity standout’s landmark as opening new pathway, shows how expansion has brought opportunity for young talent

Republic FC signs trio of players to USL Academy contracts

By Staff 04/04/2023, 12:00pm EDT

Yohannes, Willey and Kelly join First Team having been part of club’s Academy system since 2017

Aimar Membrila rejoins FC Tulsa as USL Academy signing

By Staff 04/04/2023, 11:00am EDT

19-year-old midfielder made Championship debut late in 2022 season, committed to University of Tulsa

Switchbacks add Dillon Clarke as USL Academy signing

By Staff 03/31/2023, 3:01pm EDT

Colorado Springs native joins club for 2023 season after competing for Pride Soccer locally

LouCity adds Smith, Elder as USL Academy signings

By Staff 03/24/2023, 1:14pm EDT

Local standouts join squad ahead of Saturday’s contest with El Paso Locomotive FC

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