The 2023 USL Academy Cup kicks off this week at the Sportsplex of Tampa Bay, with players ready to shine at one of the most competitive pre-professional soccer tournaments in the country this year. Players from 88 boys teams and 40 girls teams will take to the field aiming to emulate those that have used the event as a platform to launch their future pathways as well as achieve collective success with their teams.
The four-day tournament will culminate with championship matches on Sunday, April 2. The U19 Elite Boys and U19 Elite Girls championships will be streamed live on YouTube. Tune in at 1p.m. ET for the Elite U19 Girls championship match and 3:30 p.m. ET for the Elite U19 Boys championship match.
To live stream the five matches to watch through the Veo Live app:
All other matches throughout the tournament will be available for purchase through MuscoVision.
Read about the five matches to watch below and be sure to stream the matches live on Veo:
A rematch of the 2022 Academy Cup Final between NC Fusion and Indy Eleven is set to be a thrilling, must-watch match. Indy will be on the hunt to avenge last year’s 1-0 loss to NC Fusion and start the weekend off hot. NC Fusion will be under pressure to lead a strong title defense campaign in hopes of emerging victorious for a second year in a row, with last year’s Golden Ball winner Alla Summers set to return to lead the squad.
After leading the Greenville Liberty to the 2022 W League semifinals, Technical Director Julie Carlson and her Academy squad will face off against newcomers Cleveland Force SC. Greenville’s squad will be led by young standout Autumn Cayelli (link to ‘Players to Watch’), who competed for Greenville’s W League team last summer. Cleveland will be showcasing a young but exciting roster that is set to feature central midfielder Hannah Pachan. She and her teammates will be looking to make their mark in this year's competition.
After Tampa Bay United’s thrilling 2022 Academy League Finals victory, the club will be looking for more hardware over the weekend. TBU’s squad is bolstered by players with USL League Two experience. After launching their Academy program last fall, Hartford Athletic has added several high-profile players to their squad, including current USL Academy First Team signing Dren Dobruna (link to ‘Players to Watch’ piece). This is set to be an intriguing matchup between a Hartford program that is younger but rising against a club in Tampa Bay that has achieved much success in the past 12 months to maintain its position in the national conversation.
Indy Eleven and Phoenix Rising FC won’t meet officially in the USL Championship regular season until September 20, so this meeting between the Academy teams of the two powerhouse clubs will serve as the first official meeting at any level for the Boys in Blue and Rising FC. Both field some of the strongest youth teams in the country, with Indy set to feature forward Benji Chavarria and midfielder Diego Sanchez and Phoenix calling on young professional signing Niall Dunn and Academy signing Liam Mullins. That should make for a fascinating contest.
The Richmond Kickers and Central Valley Fuego FC squared off last season in USL League One, but this contest will be a highlight of the first USL Academy Cup for both clubs. As the teams prep for their first USL Academy League season, they will hope to set a foundation for their upcoming regular seasons with a strong performance here. Richmond made history as the first team in the USL’s history to add Academy signings to its rosters 10 years ago and has produced players that have moved into the First Team in the process. Fuego FC, meanwhile, has a rich talent base to pull from in the Central Valley region, some of which are currently playing for the club’s League One squad such as former Academy signing David Diaz, who this offseason turned pro with the club.