Are MLS Academies Free?
MLS academies are youth development programs run by Major League Soccer teams to identify and train young talent for their senior teams. One question that I often hear is whether academies or free or not.
Yes, MLS academies are fully funded.
Unlike most other soccer clubs in a pay-to-play system, the annual registration dues for MLS NEXT teams associated with the professional clubs are typically free. The cost of coaching, equipment, travel (sometimes), and other expenses is covered by the MLS team.
Some MLS Academies Offer Residency Programs
In addition to the fully funded season, some MLS academies offer residency programs for their players. Players who may be outside of the metro area can spend the school year onsite or close to the academy’s training facility.
This provides a talented player the opportunity to come in and play for a top-tier MLS academy. At the same time, it allows for an MLS program to build its program outside of its immediate region.
FC Dallas found success in this system by importing future pros from places like…
- El Paso, Texas (Ricardo Pepi)
- Little Rock, Arkansas (Thomas Roberts)
- Birmingham, Alabama (Chris Richards and Tanner Tessmann).
Understanding MLS Academies
MLS Academies provide a structured pathway for young players to develop their skills and potentially progress to the professional level.
What are MLS Academies?
MLS Academies are designed to provide a professional environment for young players to develop their skills. These academies consist of full-time teams separated by age group, typically ranging from U13 to U19.
The goal of MLS Academies is to develop young players who can compete at the highest levels of soccer. Players in these academies receive high-quality coaching, access to top-notch facilities, and opportunities to compete against other top youth teams across the country.
Each of these academy teams plays in the MLS NEXT league and competes against other MLS clubs and non-MLS clubs.
Role of MLS Academies in Soccer Development
MLS Academies play a critical role in the development of soccer in the United States and Canada. These academies provide a structured pathway for young players to develop their skills and potentially progress to the professional level. By investing in youth development, MLS clubs are able to identify and develop talented young players who can compete at the highest levels of soccer.
In addition to developing young players, MLS Academies also help to raise the overall level of play in their respective regions. By providing high-quality coaching, facilities, and competition, these academies help to create a culture of excellence in youth soccer.
Overall, MLS Academies are an important part of the soccer landscape in the United States and Canada. These academies provide a structured pathway for young players to develop their skills and potentially progress to the professional level, while also helping to raise the overall level of play in the region.
My Personal Take
I think it’s great that MLS academies are able to offer their players free tuition. I think it’s only right.
For this reason, professional academy clubs can be cutthroat if you aren’t their 1-3 top players. In our case, we have the New England Revs relatively close by (45 min.) and they aren’t afraid to clear out the current to make way for the new. If you are an academy player and not performing well, they may let go of you after a season.
I’ve seen a few talented players from area clubs go to the Revs, only to return the next season because of performance or lack of playing time.
If you can find success in the system, you will come out on top. For the rest, you have to factor in your potential and your dedication to the sport.