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. The Academy Program's philosophy is based on increased training, less total games, and more meaningful games using international rules of competition.
The Academy has 96 total clubs, comprised of teams in several age groups: U12, U13, U14, U-15/16, and U-17/18.
The Academy Program focuses on positively impacting everyday club environments to assist in maximizing youth player development across the country. The Academy values individual development of elite players over winning trophies and titles. The Academy sets the standard for elite environments for youth soccer clubs nationwide and is a part of U.S. Soccer's global leadership position in youth soccer that will impact thousands of players.
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.
Each Academy team plays between 25 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 15-20 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.
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:
- 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
- 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.
Colorado Rush has been a member of the Development Academy since the inception in 2007.