In 2013, the United Soccer League introduced the USL Academy Contract to the USL Championship’s roster rules, providing the opportunity for the best players from a club’s Academy system to join the Senior Team to train and compete at the professional level. The idea then was if a young player was good enough, they were old enough to try and make their mark in the professional ranks.
Today, the USL Academy League has taken that idea and expanded it fully throughout an organization’s development structure. Players will now have the chance to excel within a club’s youth network and earn a place in the USL Academy League squad of a USL Championship, League One or League Two team. There, they will go up against top players and teams in the next stage of their development, getting the chance to not only help their team to success on the field, but prove their ability to take the next step in the pathway to the pros.
For those elite players, becoming a USL Academy Signing at the professional level will get a direct opportunity to do so, while retaining their college eligibility. And in some cases, it might even lead to signing their first professional contract and continuing their path to the top of the game.
In creating a system where players have the opportunity to consistently prove themselves against increasing levels of competition, the USL Academy League will provide more players across the United States more opportunities to understand what it takes to reach the professional ranks, and maximize their potential. The impact that will have on the game overall in the country – and the potential impact it will have on future U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams and the youth and senior level – is one that could finally see the United States become the soccer nation it has been striving to become.