On Thursday morning the United Soccer League announced its long-term vision for the future of its youth development program. The USL Academy will exist as a new tier under the league's recent rebrand of the USL Championship, USL League One, and USL League Two. The USL Academy Cup, a national competition set to begin this year, will serve as the catalyst for future development of the USL Academy.
Derek Broadley, the Youth Technical Director for the Charleston Battery Soccer Club, weighed in on the news of the USL Academy and USL Academy Cup. “It’s an exciting announcement that gives credibility to the visions of the Charleston Battery ownership who appointed me to lead the development of our own youth club. It’s an opportunity that gives local Charleston youth players a direct pathway to becoming a pro player.”
The Charleston Battery Soccer Club (CBSC), founded in May of 2018, has established forty-one teams between the ages of eight and eighteen in its first season. The Charleston Battery Soccer Club currently competes in numerous local and regional leagues and tournaments providing a structured games program which is critical to the development of the club and its players. Since its inception, the main focus of the Charleston Battery Soccer Club has been on establishing the development of an age-specific curriculum, a consistent network of coaching staff, and an education and support system for the parents of the players.
“The USL is implementing a youth structure that is beginning to mirror those of more established international leagues and youth academy systems,” said Broadley. Broadley has an extensive background in youth technical development having served as the Academy Director for English Premier League side Crystal Palace, and most recently, the Technical Director for the Bermuda Football Association. “Our goal is to develop and produce professional players for the Charleston Battery and Charleston Fleet first team(s). It’s a long term, consistent process of developing the best players over the next 10-15 years and we are doing that here in Charleston.”
The USL Academy Cup will feature competitions for the U13 and U17 age groups set to begin at the end of 2019. The U17’s will compete in two regional qualifiers (Eastern Conference and Western Conference) that will determine seeding and placement for the national event set to take place in Tampa Bay on May 22-25, 2020. The U13’s will forego regional qualifying and compete only at the national event.