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USL Academy – Creating Defined Player Development Pathways

By Staff, 06/22/20, 1:52PM EDT


Connection and collaboration will provide a visible path to the professional ranks

While it’s been the case that numerous professional soccer clubs in the United States have created fruitful Academy programs that are currently producing high-level prospects – including those in the USL Championship and USL League One – there has also remained a disconnect for leading youth clubs aiming to help its top players find a similar path into the professional ranks.

With its new player development model, that’s something the USL Academy League is aiming to change for the better.

With the growth of the Championship, League One and League Two across the United States, there are now 139 senior clubs throughout the United Soccer League’s overall structure, which can offer youth players more opportunities to play at a higher level. Through building youth networks both in their local communities and in some cases state-wide and beyond, partner organizations have the opportunity to work together in the best interests of long-term player development, putting talented players on an accelerated path to the professional ranks with the help of USL clubs.

The players identified at having the potential to be a future professional will become part of a Championship, League One or League Two organization’s USL Academy League squad, which will effectively serve as a reserve team for the club’s senior squad. That step will subsequently lead to opportunities for players in the U15-U19 age groups to not only compete throughout the year, but also create a pathway to earning a USL Academy contract – or to be signed to a professional deal.