Academy Structure

At the Competition Level

Club Membership

The Academy has 197 total clubs, comprised of teams across six age groups in the boys' program: U-12, U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16/17, and U-18/19 and four age groups in the girls' program: U-14, U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19. These clubs are all located within geographically-based divisions across gender and age group levels. Each team plays home and away games against the other teams in their division, plus games against non-division opponents from across the country during the 10-month season.

For a breakdown of club membership and age group divisions, please refer to the Academy Club Directory.

Development Academy Events and Competitions

Please visit our Academy Events page for more information on the event structure by age group, as well as dates and locations for the 2018-2019 season.

At the Club Level


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 16 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 can expect 12-20 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 and Academy Operations

Player Pool

Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements for full-time players on each age group throughout the season. Clubs must register the minimum requirement of players by August 3rd. Clubs may have the following maximum number of players for each Academy age group.

Download the Part-Time (PT) Player document here

2018-19 Development Academy Roster Guidelines
Number of Teams FT Minimum
FT+PT Maximum
1 14 24
2 28 48
3 42 72
4 56 96
5 70 120
6 84 144

Academy philosophy is based on building a player pool with flexibility to move players freely between age group teams within a Club. The roster limits are the total minimum and maximum plyers based on the number of DA teams within the Club across the age groups (U-13 to U-18/19):

  • Each Club's roster may average no more than 24 players across each age group based on the minimum of 14 Full-Time players and a maximum of 10 Part-Time players
  • Roster Maximums can vary from one age group to another so long as the FT Minimum and PT Maximum limits for number of teams are followed
  • Example for a Club with two teams: the U-13 team has 18 FT players and 8 PT players for a roster size of 26, while the U-14 team has 17 FT players and 5 PT players for a roster size of 22: the total for the two teams is till no more than 48

These guidelines exclude U-12 teams. U-12 teams have a separate player pool which allows players to move freely between teams in the 9v9 competition. Roster limits for U-12:

  • 22 FT Min
  • 26 FT+PT Max

Game Operations

  • Technical Staff Area: all Academy teams may not have more than five (5) Technical Staff in the Technical Area during competitions
  • Each full-time player is recommended to 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
  • Uniforms and Patches
    • All teams must follow uniform guidelines outlined in the Game Day Guide. This includes wearing uniforms that display the Development Academy patch on either sleeve of the uniform

*Please see our Game Day Guide for more information.

Club Evaluation

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. Please visit Join an Academy Club for more information about our evaluation criteria.

What is the Development Academy? | Academy Structure | Program Benefits | Join the Academy | Expansion | FAQ