There are 1000’s of youth soccer football clubs or soccer development academies in the USA, but only a handful of really special academies are the ones that produce professional soccer players for professional soccer teams.
With so many US soccer development academies out there, it can be hard to know which ones are the best. However, with some research and scouting, you can find some golden opportunities to kickstart your soccer journey.
On this page are my top 12 list of the best soccer academies in the USA. Each academy has been chosen for its quality and achievements, as well as for going above and beyond for the youth players under its tutelage. I have also included a brief description of what makes them so good!
12 Best Soccer Development Academies In The USA
1) The Players Development Academy
The Players Development Academy has been coaching kids since 1997 and now has more than 4000 members from U9 to U19 levels.
One of the main goals of the Players Development Academy is to deliver year-round soccer training that will refine players to their maximum potential, with a focus on top-quality coaching as well as exposure to the highest levels of competition.
2) The San Diego Surf Soccer Club
The San Diego Surf Soccer Club has more than 30 teams with 450 players, and it’s a top-level academy that teaches children all about being the best in soccer. The San Diego Surf Club received an IMG award for most successful club in the nation for its advancement of players to the next level of competition.
Moreover, the team is also a member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) and the Development Players League (DPL) – a league that caters to both boys and girls. These two leagues represent the highest levels of youth soccer competition in the United States aiming to produce future international players.
3) Santa Cruz Breakers Academy
The Santa Cruz Breakers Academy is an internationally recognized youth soccer club with programs for kids from junior to U19.
It is an extension of the professional Santa Cruz Breakers team from the USL PDL (Premier Development League). The Santa Cruz Breakers program is designed to give elite level training to young players that are interested in taking the next step in their soccer careers. The club prides itself on developing its players to be ready for college and beyond.
If you live in the Santa Cruz area and are interested in joining the academy, you will be happy to know it is very easy to sign up and attend tryouts. The tryouts are for youth aged 6-18 of all skill levels.
4) Dallas Texans Youth Soccer Academy
The Dallas Texans Youth Soccer Academy has been coaching kids since 1969, and each year, this competitive division has endured significant success at state, regional and national levels.
For over 50 years, the Dallas Texans Youth Soccer Academy has been one of the premier youth soccer academies in the region. Located in Dallas,
Texas, this organization has produced a number of professional and international soccer players, and have many alumni playing for top Division I athletic programs.
They work with children from all over the country to develop them as players and individuals, encouraging them to learn to work together and encourage each other on the field, while developing their skills and confidence off the field.
5) The Santa Barbara SC MLS Academy
The Santa Barbara SC MLS Academy is home to more than 900 players from U6-U18, and they have won five State Championships in the last decade.
The Santa Barbara SC MLS Academy is a soccer academy that offers a variety of classes to help improve your skills on the field. Since the academy has been around for a while, they have an extensive list of classes geared toward both new and experienced players.
For those looking to improve their skills, there are classes for every level. Whether you’re a veteran player looking to add some flair to your game, or a new player looking to get the basics of the sport down, the Santa Barbara Soccer Club has the class for you.
6) United Soccer Academy
The United Soccer Academy offers a variety of age-specific programs for kids as young as two years old (parent and me), and their comprehensive training program is geared towards developing players who are physically ready to play at the high school level.
The United Soccer Academy (USA) is a non-profit soccer club that is dedicated to teaching the game of soccer to players of all ages. The organization was started to provide opportunities to play soccer in a safe, fun, and competitive environment.
The academy is not only about training but also about enjoying the game everybody loves to play. It is run by a group of local soccer enthusiasts that come together with the support of parents, players, coaches, and volunteers.
7) New York Red Bulls Academy
The New York Red Bulls Academy is a special organization that allows high school-age soccer players to train with the New York Red Bulls.
The program gives these players an opportunity to train with some of the key figures inside the New York Red Bulls organization. The program offers a unique opportunity to see what it takes in order to become a professional soccer player.
Additionally, the team is one of the most respected in the country and has produced several professional players, including homegrown talents such as Matt Miazga, Connor Lade, Sean Davis, and Tyler Adams.
8) Sporting Kansas City Youth Academy
The Sporting Kansas City Academy has run a highly successful program since its formation in 2007. The U-19, U-17, and 15 teams at Sporting Kansas City Youth Academy play in MLS NEXT which allows them to play high-level matches throughout the year.
This is a great way to develop and hone the skills of mature players. While the U-13 and U-12 teams compete in the Sporting Development League.
9) LA Galaxy Academy
LA Galaxy has one of the best youth academies in the United States and is ranked 3rd out of all MLS Academies.
The LA Galaxy are inviting teenagers to join the league’s elite player development program. It’s open to players between the ages of 14 and 17, and the competition is tough: for every spot on the team, there are more than 400 players who applied.
Those who make it will receive two-year contracts with LA Galaxy, which includes full tuition and board at a local high school, housing, travel, training equipment, and a weekly salary.
10) FC Dallas Youth Academy
FCD’s academy has turned out some high-level talent, with homegrown players like Kellyn Acosta and Victor Ulloa now a part of their first team.
11) Metro United Soccer Club Academy
Metro United Soccer Club Academy has been operating since 1997. The only way to get in is by paying a $2000 yearly tuition fee, but all their training fees and equipment are covered for you after signing up. The Metro United Soccer Club Academy is based in Reston, Virginia.
12) Atlanta Fire United Academy
The Atlanta Fire United Academy is an elite soccer academy for kids who aspires to become professional soccer players. Located in Atlanta, GA, AFUA is a soccer academy that is dedicated to the development of youth soccer talent.
They offer a variety of programs for players of all ages and all levels of skill, and their coaches are all highly qualified and dedicated. The premier program they have, is for kids aged 5-18 who have been identified as having a high level of soccer talent.
These are what I believe are 12 of the best soccer academies (association football clubs) in the USA. These academies teach children all about being the best in soccer as well as being able to attract attention from professional soccer scouts for recruitment.
How To Join A Soccer Academy
I am sure they all sound great, but you are probably wondering how to join a soccer academy.
While I have touched on some very specific factors pertaining to finding a soccer academy, getting scouted for college soccer and how to obtain a college soccer scholarship in previous posts. I am going to break down how you would go about joining a soccer academy.
Keep in mind, each academy will have its own process, fees, and requirements but overall these are some things you might want to consider and some steps to get the process going.
Things to consider when looking for and joining a soccer academy and FAQs:
Make a list of soccer academies
This list shows some of the best soccer academies in the USA, however, these might not be suitable options for you or your family, based on location, cost etc.
The first thing to do when looking for a soccer academy to join is to make a list of your local soccer academies and their features and benefits. You can also make a note of any fees and requirements to join.
How do I know if my child is ready?
The short answer: you probably don’t, so you should do some research before you get out there and start passing out resumes. Most academies have age limits and other requirements, so you’ll want to make sure your child is at least eligible.
Joining a soccer academy is a big commitment. In some cases an academy is residential and in other cases, it operates more like a soccer club and holds practice on specific days.
Whatever academy you choose, be sure to determine their requirements to best assess whether your child is able to commit to it. You could also utilize various soccer camps and weekend club practices to gauge your child’s interest.
The good thing is, you do not have to worry about their skill level, as many academies take on players of all levels to develop them. The main thing to confirm is your child’s interest and drive.
If your child has always dreamed of being a professional soccer player, it is important to know the process that leads up to the tryouts these academies hold and how best to prepare.
Reaching out to your chosen academy or list of academies is easy. There will either be contact information on their website or an application form with detailed requirements.
You will likely be invited to attend tryouts and have an option of dates.
Preparing For And Attending Tryouts
Tryouts often take place during a set period. It is important to pay attention to these dates well ahead of time, so it might be a good idea to join the mailing lists of your chosen academies or follow their social media profiles.
If you miss the tryouts period, you will need to wait and apply the following year.
Attending soccer academy tryouts can be exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. It also can be very frustrating. Here are a few things you need to know before your child attends soccer academy tryouts:
- Prepare any questions you may want to ask before attending soccer academy tryouts.
- How long will the tryouts last?
Soccer tryouts can last anywhere from one day to two weeks. They will likely be broken up into multiple sessions with different tryout dates.
- How many players will be at the tryouts?
Tryouts can vary greatly. If it is an established soccer academy, tryouts may be small with only a few coaches evaluating the players. You may be very nervous with only a few other families accompanying you.