USL PRO teams will be able to carry as many as 5 academy players beginning in 2013
TAMPA, FL Feb. 20, 2013 – USL PRO announced it is expanding its roster sizes today to allow teams to carry as many as five academy players on their rosters in USL PRO competition. USL PRO teams currently have a roster size of 26 players, and will now be able provide important exposure to a professional environment to up-and-coming talent. Additionally, MLS teams affiliated with USL PRO clubs will be able to use the academy player slots for their own academy players.
“This is another important step in our commitment to helping develop talent in North America,” USL Pro Leagues Operations Director David Wagner said. “Following our groundbreaking partnership with MLS, USL PRO wanted to continue to expand the opportunities for elite players to develop and we believe adding these academy player slots will give meaningful minutes to young players who can help teams compete for a USL PRO Championship.”
This announcement comes a little more than a month after USL PRO announced its partnership with MLS whereby the two leagues will undertake several development initiatives, including interleague games between USL PRO and MLS Reserve League teams as well as several USL PRO and MLS teams creating affiliations.
Players must meet several requirements in order to qualify for an academy player slot: they must be younger than 21 at the start of the current season; they can’t have competed collegiately; they must never have signed as a professional. Additionally, the player must either be from a club’s region, an affiliate youth team or from an MLS affiliate.
USL PRO is the strongest, best operated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below MLS, both on and off the field. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO featured 11 teams in 2012 and an unprecedented six teams with more than a decade of operational experience. The league is focused on aggressive but deliberate growth by adding teams fully capable of meeting USL and USSF standards, which are located in markets that further promote regional league play. In addition to league play, USL PRO teams will compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions. USL PRO is affiliated with the USSF.