Following a comprehensive review of elite player development in the United States and around the world, U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007 to provide education, resources and support to impact everyday club environments that will develop world-class players. The Academy Program’s philosophy is based on increased training, less total games, and more meaningful games using international rules of competition.
The Academy also 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 Men’s Scouting Network at least ten (10) times each year and each Academy club receives two (2) formal reviews that provide feedback in seven (7) Key Performance Categories each year from U.S. Soccer Technical Staff.
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)
The Academy is also focused on identifying and developing the next generation of elite referees. U.S. Soccer assigns up-and-coming officials to participate in Academy games at the local and national levels.
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. Full-time Academy players can only participate on their designated Academy team, with only two exceptions: U.S. Soccer Training Centers and National Team duty. 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. Academy players choosing to participate in the Academy full-time will forgo playing for their high school team.