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US Development Academy

Local TV Coverage from 21Alive on the US Development Academy

Program Overview


The U.S. Soccer Development Academy program provides education, resources, and support to impact everyday club environments in order to develop world-class players.


What is the Development Academy Program?

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) 

Program Objectives:

Academy program focus:

  • Individual player development within the team concept
  • Improving the quality of coaching for players
  • Shifting away from results-driven philosophy
  • Promoting holistic approach to development: respect, lifestyle, personal responsibility.

The addition of a U-12 age group will expand these objectives to continue improving the environment at a critical stage of development for players.


Why Expand Younger?

Improve the environment for players at younger ages

  • More training (Min. 3 sessions/week)
  • Higher Quality Training
  • Less Total Games
  • More Meaningful Games
  • Critical Learning Age
  • Simplify the overall soccer landscape
    • ​Provide a streamlined path for players from U-12 to U-18 and beyond.
  • Localized programming
    • ​Reduce travel distances and cost

Fall Training Schedule

Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
12 USDA 5:15-8:15 PS Mini Dome 5:15-8:15 PS Large Dome 5:15-7:00 Field 15 Thru 8/26
5:15-7:00 Field 19A/B Starting 9/1

U12 U.S. Soccer Development Academy

DEVELOPMENT 9v9 play promotes individual skill development, touches, confidence, and awareness. Player performance is prioritized above winning.
PHILOSOPHY More training, higher quality training, more meaningful games, age- appropriate learning environment, and delayed specialization.
TRAINING Minimum 3 sessions per week. Minimum B-licensed coach, A-licensed director.
EXPOSURE Games scouted by US Youth National Team coaches. Academy players have increased opportunities for US Soccer Training Center sessions.
SUPPORT US Soccer provides players with regular YNT scouts, a Technical Adviser, standards/benchmarks, and equipment.
CALENDAR Full year schedule—including futsal component and rest periods—outlined in June. The calendar is driven by development, not results.
PATHWAY The Academy offers a streamlined individual plan: players move up to U13, 14, 16, and 18 Academy teams when prepared.

Questions? Please contact:

Bobby Poursanidis

Bobby Poursanidis

Executive Director

Phone: (260)515-1191

Alan Bodenstein

Alan Bodenstein

U12 Development Academy Director & Head Coach

Phone: (260)557-4901

CHICAGO (Oct. 16, 2015) - In its continual effort to improve player development, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program will be expanding to the Under-12 age group starting in the Fall of 2016.

The expansion to U-12 will incorporate the same Academy philosophy as the older age groups, providing this critical younger age with an improved environment to enhance player and coach development. The players will train more often, while also playing fewer - but more meaningful - games every week, which will provide the American player with the opportunity to learn and develop to reach their full potential.

"We are very excited to expand and introduce the Academy structure and philosophy to the U-12 age group when players are in their peak learning years," said U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Tab Ramos. "That age represents a critical stage in a player's growth, and this move represents another important step in our expanded efforts to improve elite player development.”

The Development Academy has posted a narrated video presentation about the overall plan for the U-12 age group.

Existing Development Academy clubs will add a U-12 age group, while a select number of new clubs will enter at the U-12 age group in key markets to help localize competition within the Academy. The addition of the youngest age group and the split to single age groups at U-13 and U-14, will also streamline and simplify the development pathway for the Academy clubs, creating a consistent environment from U-12 to U-18 and beyond for the elite player.

"This will improve the overall environment at an earlier development stage and help clubs create a more consistent, step-by-step pathway for players to learn," added U.S. Soccer Director of Scouting Tony Lepore.

The U-12 Academy will adopt all aspects of the new Player Development Initiatives, which were recently announced by U.S. Soccer in another step of its commitment to long-term player development after being a best practice for the last 10 years. U.S. Soccer standardized small-sided games based on player age groups, while also aligning birth-year registration calendars with the start of the calendar year to run from January to December. The development initiatives, which will be a best practice in 2016 and a mandate by August of 2017, are focused on advancing youth players' individual skill and intelligence, and providing players with the best opportunity to improve.

"U.S. Soccer Development Academy Clubs have made a tremendous commitment to player development in the past 9 years and will serve as the example for clubs and leagues throughout the country to provide the best possible environment for young players" said U.S. Soccer Development Academy Director Jared Micklos.

In addition, U.S. Soccer and the Academy will focus on improving the coaching environment through enhanced educational opportunities, license requirements and support from U.S. Soccer Technical Staff. In an effort to continue to increase the quality of coaching for younger players, Academy coaches will move away from a results-driven philosophy, apply consistent standards for training and games, and unify player development initiatives and standards across the county.

"The opportunity to provide a simplified development environment for players will have a direct impact on their advancement as players, said Micklos. "U.S. Soccer will continue to invest resources and work together with our clubs to serve as the leaders in the community to collaborate with local clubs to provide players with an opportunity to grow."

To review the direction and format of the Academy U-12 program, please see the new Player Development Initiatives (released in early September). For more information on the Development Academy, please visit

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 for male players in the U-15 to U-18 age groups. In 2013, the Academy expanded to include the U-13/14 age group, which has continued to improve development by setting standards and improving the everyday environment for players and clubs. To date, the Academy has been the leader in developing players in the U.S. with the thousands of alumni moving on to play college soccer, 116 Academy graduates currently rostered in the MLS and 14 Academy players earning USMNT caps.