ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – St. Petersburg FC has announced the club will field teams in the upcoming USL Academy Cup and compete in the USL Academy League for the 2024 season.
St. Petersburg FC joining the USL Academy marks the next development in the evolution of the player development pathway in Pinellas County, Florida, with the move toward a more modernized, globally aligned model.
“Our mission, as a club, is to give every player in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County access to play the beautiful game and expand those opportunities through our programming,” said Chad Burt, St. Petersburg FC Director of Coaching. “The start of SPFC in USL League Two has been a huge success in having a true pathway within Pinellas County that allows players to come back to their community and continue their development both as players and people. By adding the USL Academy program, we will give the next generation of youth players the platform to reach their goals on and off the field.”
“We are thrilled to welcome St. Petersburg FC to the USL Academy platform,” said Jason Collister, USL Director of Men’s Pre-Professional Pathway. “The club is a leader in identifying local talent which was showcased in their debut season in USL League Two last year, and we look forward to the level of competition that SPFC will bring to both the Academy Cup and USL Academy League.”
St. Petersburg FC Director of Coaching Chad Burt and USL Technical Director Liam O'Connell
The USL Academy structure provides the platform for talent to develop in their local environment before moving to professional ranks in the USL, or even earning moves to top European clubs like Louisville City FC's Joshua Wynder who transferred to Portuguese giants SL Benfica in June 2023.
St. Petersburg FC Academy players will experience an elevated day-to-day training environment and play in league games against other regional professional team academies like Miami FC of the USL Championship.
“I'm very familiar with the USL landscape having been a part of teams and organizations in the USL Championship, USL League Two and USL Academy,” added Burt. “I've witnessed firsthand the benefits that the USL Academy offers to its youth players in pursuit of reaching the highest level. SPFC has a proud history of success in player development with the number of professional and college players who have come through our program.”