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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 boys youth 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 top 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. Click here to learn more, or see below to see examples of young players who successfully reached the pro level thanks to Academy contracts.


Cole Frame Signs Professional Contract With North Carolina FC

By Staff 09/08/2021, 9:00am EDT

18-year-old Academy standout for NCFC signs professional contract

North Carolina FC Signs First Academy Product to a Professional Contract

By Staff 09/02/2021, 11:00am EDT

15-year-old Nicholas Holliday becomes NCFC's first academy product to sign a professional deal

New Mexico Signs Cristian Nava to Professional Contract

By Staff 08/21/2021, 1:00pm EDT

Former Academy signing, United Soccer Coaches All-America selection made United debut on July 9

Union Omaha Adds Jaime Ponce as USL Academy Signing

By Staff 08/20/2021, 11:13am EDT

Ponce is second Union Omaha academy signing, available for Saturday’s contest

Yoskar Galvan makes history becoming Union Omaha's first USL Academy contract signing

As Indiana’s lone pro soccer team, Indy aims to raise the state to a higher level of development through its academy

Indy Eleven Signs Quartet to USL Academy Contracts

By Staff 08/09/2021, 3:33pm EDT

Group includes Aiden Benitez, who becomes youngest rostered player in Championship's history, alongside Diego Sanchez, Alan Torres, Ecris Revolorio

Hartford Athletic Signs Midfielder Kenan Hot to USL Academy Contract

By Staff 07/30/2021, 11:00am EDT

17-year-old midfielder has earned multiple U.S. Youth National Team caps

Republic FC Announces Seven USL Academy Signings

By Staff 07/29/2021, 5:00pm EDT

Players from club’s U17 and U19 squads earned success 2021 MLS Next Cup

Phoenix Signs Niall Dunn to Professional Contract

By Staff 07/29/2021, 2:00pm EDT

16-year-old began season on USL Academy contract with Rising FC, is first to move up to pro contract in club history

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