US SoccerUS Soccer

Need-Based Scholarship Opportunities Open the Door for Development Academy Players

 179 Players to Receive Need-Based Aid for the 2010-11 Season;
NIKE, U.S. Soccer Foundation and U.S. Soccer fund program for third year

Two Development Academy championships in three seasons, a professional learning environment and a game-winning goal in the first-ever Development Academy championship match are all things that AJ Corrado remembers fondly about his time with Indiana United (formerly Carmel United).

Corrado, now a freshman at Southern Methodist, credits his time in the Academy structure for getting him into a strong college program and putting him on the path for a possible professional career.

Corrado’s journey began with the Development Academy Scholarship Program, which he participated in during the Academy’s 2008-09 season while playing for Carmel United (now Indiana United Academy).

There are currently 17 clubs within the Development Academy in which player participation is fully or mostly funded by the club, and the process of ensuring that more deserving elite players have access to the Academy continues. To further that goal, U.S. Soccer, Nike and the U.S. Soccer Foundation joined forces during the program’s second season to create the Scholarship Program. The Program is an ongoing effort by U.S. Soccer to reduce the cost for players who are in need. .

“It is important that as we grow as a soccer nation, we ensure that every player has access to the opportunities provided by the Development Academy,” said Tony Lepore, the Academy’s Director of Scouting and Technical Advisor in the Northeast. “With the help of these scholarships, we have seen a number of players find success within the Academy and in the next phase of their careers.”

For the 2010-11 Academy season, 179 players have been awarded need-based scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. The scholarship is designed to help players subsidize travel costs.

“Within the Academy, I had really good coaches and that definitely set the tone with a professional organization. I’m really fortunate to have been able to train at that level and to get the games I did in the Academy,” said Corrado. “With the Showcases, I was able to be seen by so many different schools. I ended up at SMU, but without the Academy and the level I was playing at every day I don’t think that would have happened.”

Winning two championships on national television was icing on the cake for the Zionsville, Ind., native, who earned Academy Starting XI honors in the 2008-09 season.

“SMU saw me at the Winter Showcase in Lancaster (Calif.) and we began communicating with them after that,” said Corrado.

Currently, 47 of the 78 Development Academy clubs have at least one player who will be receiving a scholarship this season. The amount of each award varies on the amount of travel required within a club’s specific schedule. The hope is that if more players across the country are able to reap the same benefits of the Academy program as Corrado, the possibilities for young players in the U.S. are limitless.

“This is a program that can help numerous players and give them a chance they might not have always had,” said Lepore. “We’ve definitely seen success stories and we don’t have any reason to believe we won’t continue to see more in the future.”

Corrado seems to have adjusted well to his new surroundings in Dallas. The midfielder has appeared in all 14 of the Mustangs games so far in his freshman season and helped them to a No. 5 ranking with a 13-1-0 record.

Also a member of the National Honor Society in high school, Corrado is working on a pre-health professions major in the hopes of attending dental or medical school upon completion of his bachelor’s degree.

“It has been great here overall,” he said. “It was definitely tough getting acclimated to the school, just the different lifestyle that college brings and obviously I’m pretty far from home. It’s been challenging but it’s been extremely fun and I would do it all over again if I could. That’s for sure.”

With the help of the Development Academy scholarship program, Corrado and others are already beginning their path, and more will be certain to follow.

For more information about the program, if you are interested in contributing additional funding, please contact