Developmental Player FAQ

Developmental Players:

Definition: Developmental Players must be registered on an Academy Club’s non-Academy team between August 1 and March 1 of the current Academy seasonal year. A DP is a “bubble player” that trains regularly with the DA player pool, but is better off playing games with a “second level” team from within the club (provided: the club has full oversight and connection with this group, the group operates out of the same facility, and the player does not come from an affiliate club). This is a player with high potential for the future, but is not quite ready for DA level games. For example, it is better for the individual to have a bigger impact and experience 60 minutes of game time with a “second level” team every week, rather than play 30 minutes or less with the DA team.  

A DP may also be the player next on the positional depth chart who gains playing opportunity as a replacement/alternate when a FT player is injured, sick, away, etc. A DP may play in a maximum of six (6) DA games during the Academy season.


DP training and playing opportunities are an important part of the Individual Player Development Plan(IDP) that allows individual players to follow their own pathway within the club’s infrastructure. When considering the DP role as part of an IDP, it is important that Academies initially focus on talent ID, evaluation, positional depth charts, and selection for the full-time players when building rosters—with a long-term view (Relative Age Effect (RAE), Potential, etc.). The TOP players in the DA age groups (2005 through 1998 age groups for the current 2016-17 season) MUST be registered FT in the DA.

The Developmental Player will not be subject to the minimum 25% start requirement.


The DP registration is a serious and careful decision that should be part of a planned opportunity for the player to make an appearance in a DA game. Clubs may add Developmental Players to their teams after a predetermined date (October 3, 2016), these players will not count against the Club’s maximum roster totals. A DP must be registered in accordance with all DA registration guidelines. Clubs should note that a DP may ONLY be registered once the club coach and Academy Director co-evaluate the player, ideally when the Director makes the final decision the player is ready. This should only occur when the player is ready to play in an upcoming game (i.e. clubs should not register a group of DP’s on the opening day of registration and then wait to play the player two months later).

Developmental Players may only change their status to full-time once during the Academy season and they may not return to DP status. Furthermore, a Developmental Player does not automatically garner full-time status after participating in their sixth game. The club must submit their intentions in writing to the Academy Office to move the player to full-time status. Players that have played in the maximum six (6) games, are not eligible to continue to play in Academy games, unless the club indicates the desire to move the player to full-time status. Note, Continued usage of a DP player after their sixth game could cause a club to forfeit from the use of an eligible player. 


Developmental Players may not be registered with any two different Academy clubs at the same time during the Academy seasonal year. Additionally, DP’s may not participate in the Academy Playoffs or Academy Championships and are not eligible for year-end awards.

Areas to consider and avoid with DP:

A DP is NOT a false promise, or a label, or a status given to a player to help keep the player in the club. A DP is NOT a means to protect a player from recruiting regulations. A DP is NOT a way to help spread or divide pay to play costs amongst a larger group of players. When misused, DP’s can cause confusion within the club and in particular for the player. Mismanaging DP’s can negatively impact a team dynamic, as well as consume considerable time and resources with the registration process. There should be a plan for DP’s to get meaningful game experience as part of their IDP.  

U.S. Soccer Support and Guidance:

U.S. Soccer’s technical staff and scouts will also evaluate training sessions and friendly games to determine individual player readiness for DA level games. The Technical Advisor may require a Training Center (TC) level or Youth National Team (YNT) level player to move to FT status if viewed to be best for the player’s IDP. U.S. Soccer reserves the right to refuse the addition of a DP player if it is determined that the club is mismanaging their allocation of the DP pool or if it is negatively impacting their FT players.

Academy-wide DP Averages for the 2015-16 Academy Season

Age Group-                              U-13/14      U-15/16     U-17/18

Avg # of DPs per team             2.85             3.22            1.30


Age Group-                               U-13/14    U-15/16    U-17/18

Avg # of DPs with zero games   0.13           0.20           0.15