PREVIEW: 2018 DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY CHAMPIONSHIPS

Beginning Sunday, July 8, the top Academy clubs in the nation will converge at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City Mo., to compete in the semifinals and finals of the 2018 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Championships. In what will surely make for a highly competitive atmosphere, the event will provide an unmatched player development experience for elite youth soccer players from across the country. With the inaugural season of the Girls' Development Academy coming to a close, the Academy Championships will crown Girls' U-15 and U-16/17 Champions for the first time.

Here's what you should know about the culminating event of the Development Academy's 10-month player development program.

SEMIFINAL MATCHUPS

Following group stage play and quarterfinal knockout games in San Diego during the Academy Showcase and Playoffs from June 18-30, the top four teams from the Boys' U-16/17 and U-18/19, and Girls' U-15 and U-16/17 punched their tickets to Kansas City. The semifinal matchups were determined based on original playoff seed, with the highest regular season finishers squaring off against the lowest. Boys' semifinal and final games will take place on July 8 and 10, while Girls' finals will kick off on July 9 and 11.

BOYS - JULY 8
11:00 a.m. CT, U-16/17, (5) Atlanta United FC vs. (7) Montreal Impact FC
1:30 p.m. CT, U-16/17, (2) Seattle Sounders FC vs. (19) Barca Academy
5:00 p.m. CT, U-18/19, (13) New York City FC vs. (14) Crew SC Academy
7:30 p.m. CT, U-18/19, (10) Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. (27) LA Galaxy

MORE: Group Pairings Announced for 2018 Boys' Academy Playoffs

GIRLS - JULY 9
11:00 a.m. CT, U-15, (13) Legends FC vs. (15) Dallas Texans
1:30 p.m. CT, U-15, (2) FC Dallas vs. (16) San Diego Surf
5:00 p.m. CT, U-16/17, (1) LAFC Slammers vs. (13) Real Colorado
7:30 p.m. CT, U-16/17, (4) Nationals vs. (6) San Jose Earthquakes

MORE: Group Pairings Announced for 2018 Girls' Academy Playoffs

WHERE, WHEN AND HOW TO WATCH

For the first time in its 11-year history, the Academy Championships will take place at Swope Soccer Village, the home training ground of Sporting Kansas City's Academy programs and USL team, Swope Park Rangers.

Following the semifinal match days, all teams will have one rest day. Tuesday and Wednesday's championship slates will feature the Academy finals for each age group as well as third-place games for all four age groups.

Fans can tune into games live on the ussoccerda.com, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Facebook page, the U.S. Soccer YouTube Channel and follow along through the Development Academy Twitter and Instagram accounts (@ussoccer_acad).

AWARDS BANQUET

To kick off the Academy Championships, the DA will hold its annual Awards Banquet on July 7 (Boys) and July 8 (Girls). Another first, the banquet will take place at the U.S. Soccer National Development Center in Kansas City, Kan. Awards presented at each year's banquets include conference players of the year and Best XI selections (at the oldest age groups), coach of the year at each age group, Administrator of the Year, Respect Award and a Community award.

MORE: Five Things to Know About the U.S. Soccer National Development Center
MORE: 2016-17 Development Academy End of Year Awards

HARDWARE HISTORY

Concluding its 11th competitive season of the program, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy has seen 8 clubs lift the championship trophy at the U-16/17 (formerly U-15/16) level and 9 at U-18/19 (formerly U-17/18). Only 5 clubs have managed to hoist the hardware at both age groups. FC Dallas is the only Academy program to have won the championship in back to back years at either age level. While both FC Dallas Boys' teams were knocked out in San Diego, the FC Dallas crest still makes a return to the Academy Championships through the Academy's U-15 Girls' team.

While the first Girls' Academy Champions were crowned in San Diego at the U-18/19 age group, history will continue to be written in Kansas City with the first-ever Girls' Academy Champions at the U-15 and U-16/17 age groups.

U-16/17* Development Academy Champions:
2007-08: Carmel United (now Indiana Fire)
2008-09: Derby County Wolves (now Crew Soccer Academy Wolves)
2009-10: Chicago Fire
2010-11: LA Galaxy
2011-12: New York Red Bulls
2012-13: Real Salt Lake AZ
2013-14: LA Galaxy
2014-15: FC Dallas
2015-16: FC Dallas
2016-17: Atlanta United FC

U-18/19* Development Academy Champions:
2007-08: Baltimore Bays
2008-09: Carmel United (now Indiana Fire)
2009-10: Vardar
2010-11: Pateadores
2011-12: FC Dallas
2012-13: New York Red Bulls
2013-14: Players Development Academy
2014-15: Chicago Fire Academy
2015-16: FC Dallas
2016-17: Texans SC Houston

Click here to learn more about the history of the Development Academy Championships.

*Formerly U-15/16 and U-17/18

U.S. MNT PROUD ALUMNI

As the list of Development Academy products to be capped with the U.S. Men's National Team continues to grow, four MNT capped players will be rooting for their former clubs to bring home the championship:

Will Trapp, Crew SC Academy
Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders FC
DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders FC
Gyasi Zardes, LA Galaxy