Otters to Join USL Academy League Beginning in 2021

The Otters organization is excited to announce that they will be fielding a youth side in the newly formed USL Academy League beginning in the spring of 2021. The team will aid the Otters in the development of their next generation of players and amplify the talent level of players in the region.

“It is very exciting to see the next step for our Otters Program. The USL Academy will open up our area to compete against the top young players across the Southeast,” says President and Head Coach David Strickland. “Many players from our area can get the best of both worlds in playing for their club and being called up to the play with the Otters Academy team. We will source players from about a 100-mile radius to help them develop and compete in the ‘Path to Pro’. I look forward to getting started and hopefully some of our Otters Academy players become first team players in our group!”

On Monday, the United Soccer League officially announced the launch of the inaugural USL Academy League season for 2021. The league joins the USL pyramid a level below USL League Two, where the Otters currently field their senior team.

The Otters Academy will compete in the South Atlantic Division against some familiar names, as well as some new teams. The regional group consists of North Carolina FC (Cary, NC), Wake FC (Wake County, NC), the North Carolina Fusion (Greensboro, NC), Virginia Beach United, Charlotte Eagles, Charlotte Independence, and Combine Rush Academy (Lincolnton, NC).

The full season will run for nearly ten months, with a full preseason in February and then three, three-month periods of competition (Spring, Summer, and Fall). There will be a break from Thanksgiving through January. Teams will primarily compete against opponents within their USL Academy Division, but have the flexibility to add additional outside competition.

The team itself will be one mixed age group team from U-15 through U-19 with representation requirements for each age group within the team roster. Participation with the USL Academy side does not necessarily fully exclude participation with high school or other youth club teams.

Full Explainer Video of USL Academy Function

GM Lucas Christiansen on the addition: “Overall, I think this gives the Otters a youth set-up that can help us develop players for the USL League Two side, but more importantly I think it allows this region to grow their soccer profile nationally. I am looking forward to the collaborative process between all levels of soccer in this area to help benefit youth development.”

“It’s an exciting time for youth development in American soccer as more USL clubs look to build pathways for local young players who aspire to be professionals,” said USL Sr. Director of Youth Development Liam O’Connell. “We’re thrilled to help our clubs toward that vision, and confirming
the regional alignments for our founding member clubs is a key step as we move toward the launch of the league next year.”

The Otters will release more information as we approach the beginning of preseason, including information for tryouts. Additional information can be found on the USL Academy website. Be sure to follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be caught up an all updates regarding the academy and senior team! #USLAcademy #Path2Pro #FearTheFur

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