Bellevue, WA - On Wednesday, USL Bellevue was announced as the newest addition to the USL Academy League, as they prepare for expansion into USL League Two, the largest pre-professional soccer league in North America.
USL Bellevue will begin its journey toward League Two play by joining USL Academy, a pre-professional league central to USL's player development model, supported by their primary youth affiliate, Bellevue Rush. USL Bellevue will announce its new branding at a future date.
USL Academy players could progress to League Two, where they can train and compete at the highest amateur level while maintaining their collegiate eligibility. The direct pathway from USL Academy to League Two will assist in building out a larger, more collaborative youth network that unites the local player pool under a fixture in the community and pushes more players to the professional game.
USL Bellevue will compete as Bellevue Rush in the USL Academy League starting in Summer 2022, fielding U16-U19 players. They will compete in a minimum of 4 games during the season, with additional games proposed if schedules align.
USL Academy matches are played within regional divisions to limit travel requirements and costs for the players and clubs, besides when teams travel to face national competition at USL Academy Cup and USL Academy League playoffs.
“Bellevue Rush wants to thank USL Technical Director Liam O’Connell and USL Vice President, Youth & Pre-Professional Joel Nash and their team for their guidance and hard work in helping us bring such a game-changing competition model to the Greater Seattle/Bellevue region. This unique opportunity helps provide a player-centered model that fits our values and philosophy for player development,” said James Riley, President & Sporting Director. “We are fully committed to our players, families, and community in providing a world-class environment for our players to thrive.
“The USL Academy provides us with two separate models for our players,” Riley added. “The USL Academy League will be for our U-16s, U-17s, U-18s, and U-19s, who will compete ten months out of the year. USL Academy Cup teams will be for players performing well in the club environment throughout their seasons. We fully understand that every player’s journey is different, and we are committed to all our players throughout their development. We must provide multiple platforms for our players to perform and compete. Joining the USL Academy is a significant component of our pathway to a pro-development model. With three former professional players on our coaching staff, we pride ourselves on the unique opportunity we provide for players to be instructed and mentored by coaches who have competed at the highest levels domestically and internationally.”
Since USL Academy players maintain their college eligibility, they also receive collegiate support such as academic or financial assistance and can play in front of college scouts without leaving the club. More information about maintaining college eligibility can be found here.
More information about the USL Academy can be found here.