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United Soccer League launches academy competition

United Soccer League, the body that operates a second, third and fourth tier league in the United States, has launched an academy competition.

The USL Academy Cup will feature top young talent from the U-13 and U-17 age groups, identified by clubs from the USL Championship, League One and League Two.

“This is a very special announcement for us,” said USL chief executive Alec Papadakis. “The American soccer landscape is ever-changing and it’s important that we continue to adapt, be progressive, and create the best possible environments for players to operate in. USL clubs across the country are doing a tremendous job of developing top young professionals, and today’s announcement will only accelerate that development.”

Currently, 32 USL clubs have youth teams competing in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which is the highest level of youth play in the United States. Ten USL clubs are operating youth soccer clubs that primarily compete in other youth competitions. USL will seek to develop its academy program eventually into a nationwide pre-professional competition that exists alongside the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.