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U.S. Soccer's Development Academy Frequently Asked Questions

In a move designed to improve the development environment for players throughout the country, the U.S. Soccer Federation has taken the initiative in formalizing a nationwide development academy slated to begin in the Fall of 2007. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy will admit up to 80 elite youth soccer clubs from around the country to join the program.

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy is part of a wide-reaching movement within the grassroots soccer environment that will educate parents, coaches and players on the value of expanding national player development directly to the clubs. Using the current U.S. Under-17 Residency Program as a model, the youth clubs chosen to be part of the Development Academy will increase the amount of time spent on meaningful training while also increasing the quality of their matches.

Each Development Academy club will not only serve as a home for many of the nation’s top players, but also as a destination point within their community for shared learning and experience. One of the major advantages of the program will have players receiving integrated oversight from both youth club and U.S. Soccer coaches in their home environment. In turn, the Development Academy will provide an improved scouting environment for college, professional and U.S. National Team coaches.

Application for Admission
How does a club become a Development Academy?

Clubs interested in being considered for the U.S. Soccer’s National Team Development Academy Program must submit their Academy Application to U.S. Soccer no later than Wednesday, August 1, 2007. Applications can be found in the Development Academy page of

U.S. Soccer National Team Coaches will review applications on a rolling basis and email applicants with a decision no later than Friday, August 10, 2007.

What criteria will U.S. Soccer Coaches use to evaluate club applications?

Applications will be evaluated using the following measures:

  • National Team Coach Analysis
  • History of Elite Youth Player Development
  • History of Success in Elite Competitions
  • Geography

Is there a club registration fee to become an Academy Club?
No. There are no team or club fees associated with becoming a U.S. Soccer Development Academy. However, players and coaches must be registered with U.S. Soccer. The registration fees are $1 per player and $25 per coach.

Does an Academy Club have to field a team in the U-18 and U-16 division to participate in the Academy?
Yes. Clubs must field a team in both Academy age groups.

How many players can be included on an Academy Team Roster?
Academy Teams are required to provide a minimum of 22 players on their Academy Team Roster. There is no maximum limit on the number of players on the Team Roster as long as each player starts a minimum of 30% of the Academy Team’s Matches.

Can Academy Teams include younger players on their roster?
Yes. Academy teams are encouraged to place players at their appropriate ability level. Ideally, the U-18 Academy Team will include a balanced mixture of 17 year olds, 16 year olds and a few exceptional 15 year olds.

How long is the season?
The Academy Season will begin in Fall of 2007 and end in July 2008 with the Academy Finals. Teams will break from the Academy Season during their local high school season, the first week of December, Christmas and Easter.

What is the format for Academy Competitions?
Academy Competitions consist of Academy Conference Matches, Academy Showcases and the Academy Finals. A team is expected to play between 30-38 matches per year between the three competitions.

U.S. Soccer will assign Academy Clubs to a geographically-based conference. The Academy Teams will play each of their conference opponents in a home and away match up with no more than two games per week.

Additionally, Academy Teams will be invited to participate in Academy Showcases, which will feature three games, including non-conference opponents. The Showcases will be held during holiday weekends at specific locations throughout the country

Finally, the leading teams in each conference will be invited to participate in the Academy Finals held in mid-July at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. U.S. Soccer will pay each team’s travel and board expenses for this event.

Will the playing calendar be the same for all conferences?
No. Each conference calendar will vary depending on climate and local high school calendars.

How much will an Academy Team be required to travel?
Academy teams will play 15-20 away matches in a given season, some of which will require overnight travel. Exact travel distances will vary between teams depending on their geographic proximity to their conference opponents and Showcases.

Who pays for travel expenses?
Development Academy Clubs are responsible for all team travel expenses.

Who will select fields for Academy Competitions?
The Home Club will make facility arrangements for their Academy Conference matches. U.S. Soccer will make facility arrangements for Academy Showcases and the Academy Finals.

Academy Clubs are expected to secure the best possible playing environment for Academy Conference Matches.

Can Academy Teams participate in non-Academy Competitions?
Yes. Academy Teams are only permitted to participate in Academy Competitions (Conference Matches, Showcases and Finals) and elite non-Academy events held during the following windows:

  • Winter Windows: Nike Friendlies & Christmas/New Year’s Week
  • Spring Window: Easter Week (In 2008 - March 19 to March 26)
  • Summer Window: End of Season (July) to September 1

Please note that elite non-Academy events may only have one game per day.

Academy Teams are not permitted to participate in competitions such as State Cup, Super Y-League and U.S. Club Soccer.

Can Academy Matches be played in concert with a Club’s non-Academy Tournament?
No. Academy Clubs can request to schedule an Academy Match to coincide with their non-Academy Tournament. However, Academy Teams are not permitted to compete in the Tournament against non-Academy Teams.

Can Academy Teams schedule ‘friendly’ matches during the Academy Season?
Academy Teams can schedule ‘friendly’ matches during the Academy Season to provide players with heightened development experiences. The matches must not be part of an organized competition, i.e. tournament, league or camp, as defined in the non-participation regulations.

Can Academy players participate on non-Academy Teams during the Academy Season?
During the Academy Season, players are only permitted to participate on their Academy Team, high school team and national team.

Who will assign referees to Academy Matches?
U.S. Soccer will assign officials to all Academy Matches.

Who will pay referee costs for Academy Matches?
Academy Clubs will be responsible for covering the expenses for Match Officials during the Regular Season.

How will participating in the Academy affect my son’s opportunity to be seen by elite coaches?
Academy Competitions will provide ideal opportunities for coaches to scout players in their natural environment. Academy players will have an increased connection to U.S. National Team programs through enhanced scouting by U.S. Soccer National Team Coaches. College and professional coaches are expected to take advantage of the improved recruiting environment provided by Academy Competitions.

Additional Questions
Please email any additional questions to