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USL Academy

2022 USL Academy Preview

55 clubs from across USL’s three tiers of senior level soccer competed in the first League season. We are hoping to crown the first League winner at playoffs this December. The first National Academy Cup event hosted 76 teams from across the country who competed in a weekend long tournament.

As the number of teams grow, USL is committed to provide the highest level of competition for players to develop. By requiring minimum standards, the play can be most competitive.

Player Development Standards

In an effort to create the optimal player development environments and provide youth prospects at our clubs the best chance of reaching the professional level, all full-time USL Academy programs will be required to meet a set of minimum standards across a series of categories. These requirements will include, but not be limited to:

  • Club Identity
  • Staffing Plan
  • Pathway & Developmental Framework
  • Team Formation & Roster Management
  • Fitness & Wellness Plans
  • Facilities & Match Presentation
  • Technology & Equipment
  • Funding


With the launch of USL Academy, presented by Puma, United Soccer League now has an elite youth platform to offer to its clubs in the Championship, League One, and League Two.

As such, these clubs can now develop a more clearly defined path for top youth prospects in their area to reach the professional level and sign directly with their Senior Team while improving local quality and community.

USL Academy Competitions

Clubs that meet the minimum standards for USL Academy membership will have the opportunity to apply to field teams in two different competitions in 2022:

USL Academy League

The USL Academy League establishes a high-level pre-professional training environment year-round, with a direct connection to the local USL senior team. It provides meaningful games to aid in those players’ development & transition to that next level of the game, while allowing all clubs an opportunity to compete amongst each other in regionalized competition

  • Regular Season: teams will compete across (3) 3-month cycles, aligning with the American professional calendar, to further help allow for young talents to train and even play at the Senior Team level simultaneously
    • Spring (March – May)
    • Summer (June – Aug.)
    • Fall (Sept. – Nov.)
  • Postseason: Top teams from regular season standings within each regional division will qualify for the USL Academy League Playoffs, an exclusive tournament held in early December to crown each year’s league champion.
  • Location: all games played within regionalized divisions to limit travel
  • Age Groups: U15 – U19 Boys (one team per club)

USL Academy Cup

The annual National tournament brings clubs together from across the country to compete for the Cup against unique teams they would not normally play. Academy Cup emphasizes the importance of development both on and off the field with multiple panels & special events throughout the weekend.

  • Dates: March 30 – April 3, 2022
  • Location: Tampa, FL
  • Age Groups:
    • U13 Boys
    • U15 Boys
    • U19 Boys
    • U19 Girls


The structure of the USL Academy League will provide USL clubs a progressive model to  develop local players for their Senior Teams, at a lessened cost of traditional pre-professional  academies. Doing so will also enable far more clubs and communities to participate, allowing for  a regional format which limits travel demand to teams and families. 

2021 Coaching Staff:


USL Academy Affiliate