The Development Academy Program is a full-time, 10-month program. The season begins in September and concludes with Championships in July. Clubs will break from league play for periods of inactivity due to weather and the end of the season.

Game Structure

Each Academy team plays between 25 and 30 league games per season, including 6-9 games played at Showcases. Teams that advance from the Academy Playoffs could expect to play up to three (3) additional games.

Academy clubs (U16 & U18 only) can expect 15-20 away matches in a given season, some of which will require overnight travel. Exact travel distances will vary between clubs depending on their geographic proximity to their conference opponents and Academy events.

Each team's calendar will vary depending on their conference and climate. The Development Academy will provide the framework for the league structure of the program (assigning match-ups on given weekends); however, it is the club's responsibility to secure and communicate game times and field locations with Academy staff.

Outside Activity/Competition

Academy players and teams cannot play in any outside competitions without written permission from the Development Academy staff. This includes any other leagues, high school season, tournaments, State Cup competitions, ODP or All-Star events. There are two potential exceptions to this rule, provided they are approved by Development Academy staff:

  1. Domestic and international tournaments: Domestic & international tournaments may be permitted if they meet Academy's technical standards of one game per day and elite competition. Examples of permitted events include the Dallas Cup, Surf Cup, Disney Showcase, and other International events
  2. Possibility for friendly games: Academy clubs can schedule friendly games to provide players with a heightened development experience. The games must not be part of an organized competition (i.e. tournament, league or camp) as defined in the non-participation regulations, and all competitions must adhere to all Academy standards and guidelines.

Competitions Operations

Player Pool

  • Roster maximum
    • Minimum of 16 full-time players and no more than 23 full-time players. For 2004's Max 26 players, two teams 13 players each.
    • Each club must have a minimum roster of 32 full-time players and no more than 46 full-time players at the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups combined
    • All players register directly with the U.S. Soccer Federation

Development Players (DPs)

    • Development Players are players within your club structure that are not quite ready to be rostered as full-time players on the Academy team. DPs must come from within your club
    • DPs can play in a maximum of six (6) Academy games
    • For more information about Development Players, please visit our Developmental Player Guide

Game Operations*

  • Technical Staff Area: all Academy teams may not have more than five (5) Technical Staff in the Technical Area during competitions
  • Each player must start a minimum of 25% of regular season games
  • Facilities
    • The home club will make facility arrangements for their Academy Conference matches. U.S. Soccer will make facility arrangements for Academy Showcases, Academy Playoffs and the Academy Championships
    • Academy Clubs are expected to secure the best possible playing environment for their Academy matches

*Please see our Game Day Guide for more information.

What is the Development Academy? | Academy Structure | Program Benefits | Growth and Development | FAQ