Still relatively new on the American soccer landscape, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs aims to provide a national platform for Academy teams
to play for a berth to Finals Week, an event that crowns a U-15/16 and U-17/18 Academy champion. The Academy Playoffs allow players to be exposed to
National Team scouts and college coaches.
Following a 10-month Academy season, the top two teams (based on divisional points per game) from each of the Academy’s 10 geographically-based divisions, plus 12 wild card squads (based on overall points per game), are seeded from 1-32 and placed into eight groups of four. The teams that qualify for the event compete for four days and group winners will earn for one of eight spots to the Academy’s Finals Week in Houston from July 16-23.
With just three group games to qualify for Finals Week, each match provides meaningful competition against some of the best Academy clubs from around the country.
Combined with the Development Academy Playoffs in the 2010-11 season, the Showcase portion of the event offers Academy teams that didn’t qualify for the Playoffs the opportunity to continue their season with competitive matches in a double-elimination style tournament that affords the same level of exposure to National Team scouts and college coaches.
Over the last several years, players from Development Academy clubs have gone onto success at the college level, signed contracts with Major League Soccer teams, seen playing time in MLS and its Reserve League and have moved up the U.S. Soccer youth ranks and the senior team.
Some examples of players making the jump from the Academy level include Chivas USA and U.S. Men’s National Team member Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls Academy), 2011 Development Academy Player of the Year and Philadelphia Union forward Cristhian Hernandez (Players Development Academy) and 17-year-old New England Revolution forward Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution Academy).