What is the Development Academy Program?
After a comprehensive review of elite player development in the United States and around the world, U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007. The Academy Program's philosophy is based on increased training, less total games and more meaningful games using international rules of competition.
The Academy consists of 150 total clubs located within 17 geographically based divisions. Each team plays home and away games against the other teams in their division, plus games against non-division opponents from across the country during the 10-month season.
The Academy values individual development of elite players over winning trophies and titles. The Academy sets the standard for elite environments for youth soccer clubs nationwide and is a part of U.S. Soccer's global leadership position in youth soccer that will impact thousands of players.
How are clubs selected to the U.S. Developmental Academy?
U.S. Soccer's technical advisors and staff will evaluate the applications using the following criteria:
- Leadership of the club and quality of the coaching staff
- Desire to embrace and promote the core values of the program
- U.S. Soccer license levels of coaching staff
- Infrastructure of the club and the resources currently being invested in development (facilities, scholarships, staff-to-player ratio, etc.)
- History of player production for Youth National Teams, the National Team (Men's or Women's program where applicable) and professional leagues
- Market player depth, geographic location, proximity to other elite clubs and travel implications
Program Benefits:view the full list of program benefits
About the U.S. Development Academy:
Development Academy 1
DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY STANDARDS
Consistent Training Environments
Development Academy clubs are required to train a minimum of four (4) days per week and rest one (1) day per week during the Academy season.
Fewer, More Meaningful Games
Each Academy team plays approximately 25-30 league games, including 6-9 games played at Showcases. Teams that advance from the Academy Playoffs could expect to play up to three (3) additional games.
The DA game-to-training ratio ensures our players are getting adequate rest. Teams may have one (1) or two (2) games per weekend based on travel, with no more than one game per day.
No Outside Activity/Competitions
To maintain a focus on club training environments, Academy players and teams do not play in any outside competitions without written permission from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy staff. This includes any other leagues, tournaments, State Cup competitions, ODP or All-Star events. Development Academy players for all teams must choose to participate in the Academy full-time and forgo playing for their high school teams.
Full-time Academy players can only participate on their designated Academy team, with only two exceptions: U.S. Soccer Training Centers and Youth National Team duty.
The Development Academy upholds this rule because we believe elite players require world class environments. The Development Academy's 10-month Program allows for a greater opportunity to institute style of play and implement a system according to U.S. Soccer's Development Philosophy. It also gives teams increased opportunities for younger kids in their club to "play up" against older players in both training and matches, thereby accelerating their development.
The DA follows international rules of competition developed by FIFA. These include no re-entry on substitutions, the January 1st birthday cutoff, and players playing-up with older teams when appropriate.
Players receive integrated oversight from Academy club coaches and U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors in their local environment. Developing a world-class coaching system is fundamental to developing world-class players. Education is a continuous process. As the game of soccer is constantly evolving, it is important that coaches are knowledgeable on current domestic and international trends. U.S. Soccer Coaching Education supports the Development Academy in its initiative to require minimum certification for all technical staff.
These requirements can be seen below:
- Academy club directors → USSF 'A' License and must complete the Academy Director's course
- Academy club technical staff → USSF 'B' license (minimum)
Talent Identification Opportunities
The Development Academy offers various talent identification opportunities for Academy players through both league play and at events. Since the 2007-08 Development Academy season, 19 Academy alumni have earned Men's National Team Call-Ups and 1,250 Academy players earned Youth National Team call-ups. Over 160 Development Academy alumni have played in Major League Soccer, with approximately another 50+ alumni at professional environments overseas.
- The Academy connects National Team coaches directly with the Academy clubs to develop and identify players and coaches for future Youth National Teams. Each Academy club is evaluated by a member of the U.S. Soccer Scouting Network at least ten (10) times each year
- U.S. Soccer scouts attended over 50% (2,100+) of DA games in the 2014-2015 season
- Development Academy events are premier scouting venues for players to be identified for U.S. Soccer Training Centers and Youth National Teams
- National Team staff members observe every game
- Domestic and international professional scouts in attendance
- Online player profile for all Academy players
The Scholarship Program is designed to provide opportunities for full-time Academy players who require financial assistance to participate in the Development Academy Program. For more information on deadlines, the application process, eligibility and program requirement, click here.
The Academy provides various resources related to sports medicine, including mandatory concussion testing, requiring a medical personnel at each Academy competition, providing U.S. Soccer Heat Guidelines, and offering secondary insurance coverage. For more information, click here to visit our Resource Center.
Development Academy 2
Join a RISE DA Team:
Rise DA teams are formed through a variety of evaluation methods. We scout players at games, tryouts and invitational training sessions. Player evaluations for DA teams can occur at any time of the year as long as the player is not currently rostered to another DA team.
Players interested in joining the Rise SC Development Academy teams should email the respective DA Director with interest and provide the following information: