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USL Sep 16, 2021

USL Academy announces expansion, upgrades for 2022 youth competition

TAMPA, Fla. – United Soccer League (USL) announced its opening for applications to participate in the 2022 USL Academy competitions with updated and enhanced minimum standards. The updates come as the Academy platform plans to expand leading into the second year of League and national Cup competitions.

In an effort to create the optimal player development environments and provide youth prospects at USL 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 and developmental framework, team formation and roster management, fitness and wellness plans, facilities and match presentation, technology & equipment, and funding.

“I’ve learned throughout my experiences in the global game that holding teams to the highest professional standards will only improve the talent on the pitch,” said USL Sporting Director Mark Cartwright. “The elevation of the minimum standards is an important next step as the USL enhances development across our leagues.”

After a successful inaugural season with 55 teams involved in the League, USL Academy is looking to bring in a higher level of competition through the updated standards. One of the newest required standards for all participants is mandatory video recording. The recorded video will not only allow for clubs to learn from their own experiences in games and training, but will aid in scouting processes and individual growth plans.

“Implementing the video standard will help immensely for future growth of players and play on the field,” said USL Technical Director Liam O’Connell. “Teams can use this technology to study the game and visually learn from their mistakes. Young players don’t always see what they are doing wrong during a drill or match, so having this element to go back and review will only grow their level of talent.”

Clubs currently involved within the USL Academy platform will be audited to ensure they meet the updated minimum required standards moving into the new season. Future clubs entering the system will have to go through the entire application and evaluation process in order to compete.