Uncover the Count: How Many ECNL Teams are There?

  • By: Dale Horton
  • Time to read: 21 min.
Dale Horton
Dale Horton, the driving force behind Crossfire United ECNL, is a seasoned leader in youth soccer development. With a wealth of coaching experience and a passion for nurturing talent, Dale founded Crossfire United ECNL to create a soccer environment that goes beyond the pitch. His vision extends beyond victories, focusing on character development, leadership, and fostering a love for the beautiful game.

The ECNL, or Elite Clubs National League, has become a premier destination for elite youth soccer clubs in the United States. Since its founding in 2009, the league has experienced significant growth and expansion, attracting top talent from across the country. If you’re curious about the number of ECNL teams and the scale of this league, you’ve come to the right place.

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Key Takeaways:

  • The ECNL currently has over 100 boys’ and girls’ teams across the United States.
  • It started in 2009 as a girls-only league with 40 founding members and has since expanded to include boys’ teams as well.
  • The league offers a highly regimented competition format with regional conferences for both girls and boys.
  • ECNL hosts national events and showcases, providing players with opportunities to showcase their skills and attract college recruiters.
  • The ECNL playoffs and national finals determine the national champions in each age group.

The History and Founding of the ECNL

The ECNL, also known as the Elite Clubs National League, was established in 2009 with the aim of revolutionizing youth soccer player development. It began as a girls-only league with 40 founding members, and over the years, it has grown to include boys’ teams as well. The league was founded on the belief that collaboration between top clubs is essential for improving player development in the United States.

With its emphasis on a player-centered approach, the ECNL quickly became a premier destination for elite youth soccer clubs across the country. The league provides a highly competitive environment where players can showcase their skills and attract the attention of college recruiters. Many ECNL alums have gone on to play college soccer and even represent the United States at the international level.

“We founded the ECNL with the vision of creating a league that would truly prioritize player development and foster collaboration among top clubs. It’s incredible to see how much the league has grown over the years and the impact it has had on the soccer community.” – ECNL Founder

The ECNL has been instrumental in shaping the landscape of youth soccer in the United States. It has introduced a highly regimented competition format with regional conferences for both girls and boys. Teams compete in regular season games within their region and have the opportunity to participate in national events and playoffs to determine the national champions in each age group.

Looking Ahead

The ECNL continues to evolve and expand, with plans for a new Super Cup starting in the 2021 season. This new platform will provide additional training and competition opportunities for clubs to create a “first-team” with their top players from U15 through U19. The future of the ECNL looks bright, with the league poised to maintain its position as a major force in elite youth soccer.

Competition Format of the ECNL

The ECNL has a well-structured and highly competitive competition format for both girls and boys. The league is divided into regional conferences, allowing teams to compete against opponents within their own region. This regional format ensures that teams have a manageable travel schedule while still facing strong competition.

Within each region, teams participate in regular season games to earn points and improve their rankings. The top-performing teams from each region have the opportunity to advance to national events and playoffs, where they compete against teams from other conferences. These national events provide a platform for players to showcase their skills and compete against some of the best youth soccer teams in the country.

At the end of the season, the national finals take place to determine the national champions in each age group. The finals bring together the top teams from each conference in a highly competitive tournament format. This intense competition allows players to test their abilities against the best of the best and provides a rewarding experience for all involved.

Table: ECNL Competition Format

Competition StageDescription
Regular SeasonTeams compete against opponents within their regional conference
National Events and PlayoffsTop teams from each region have the opportunity to participate in national events and playoffs
National FinalsTournament to determine the national champions in each age group

This competition format not only provides players with valuable playing experience but also exposes them to college recruiters who attend these events in search of talented players. The rigorous competition and exposure to top-level talent make the ECNL an attractive choice for young players aspiring to play at the college level and beyond.

National Events and Showcases

The ECNL hosts a series of national events and showcases throughout the year, bringing together teams from different conferences to compete against each other. These events provide a platform for players to showcase their skills and attract the attention of college coaches for recruitment. Attending these events can greatly enhance a player’s visibility and increase their chances of being recruited by top collegiate programs.

One of the most notable national events is the ECNL National Showcase, where teams from across the country gather for a weekend of intense competition. This showcase is highly regarded in the soccer community and attracts numerous college coaches who are actively scouting for talent. Players have the opportunity to compete against top-level opponents, further enhancing their skills and experience.

In addition to the national showcase, the ECNL also organizes other events such as the ECNL Champions League and the ECNL Playoffs. These events bring together the best teams from each conference to compete for a chance to advance to the national finals. The level of competition is incredibly high, and college coaches pay close attention to these events to identify potential recruits.

EventDescription
ECNL National ShowcaseA prestigious event where teams from across the country compete and players have the opportunity to catch the attention of college coaches.
ECNL Champions LeagueA high-level competition where top teams from each conference face off to determine the best in the league.
ECNL PlayoffsA thrilling tournament where teams compete for a chance to advance to the national finals and become ECNL champions.

Attending these national events and showcases can be a game-changer for aspiring college soccer players. It allows them to display their talent and skills on a big stage, making them more visible to college recruiters. College coaches actively attend these events, looking for the next generation of soccer stars. The exposure gained from participating in these events can open doors to college scholarships and pave the way for a successful soccer career.

ECNL Playoffs and National Finals

One of the most exciting aspects of the ECNL is the highly competitive playoffs and national finals. After a grueling regular season, the top teams from each conference have the opportunity to showcase their skills and compete for the title of national champions in their respective age groups.

The ECNL playoffs bring together the best teams from across the country, creating an intense and thrilling tournament atmosphere. The high-stakes matches provide a platform for players to demonstrate their abilities and attract the attention of college coaches and scouts, further enhancing their chances of securing scholarships and advancing their soccer careers.

At the end of the playoffs, the top teams in each age group advance to the ECNL national finals. This pinnacle event showcases the elite talent within the league, with teams battling it out for the ultimate prize. The national finals not only determine the national champions but also serve as a celebration of the hard work, dedication, and skill exhibited by the players throughout the season.

Age GroupLocationDateNational Champions
U15 GirlsOrlando, FLJune 25-28TBD
U16 BoysSan Diego, CAJuly 2-5TBD
U17 GirlsGreensboro, NCJuly 9-12TBD
U18 BoysKansas City, MOJuly 16-19TBD

As the ECNL playoffs and national finals continue to grow in prestige and recognition, they have become key events in the soccer calendar, attracting attention from both players and coaches alike. The intense competition, combined with the opportunity to compete against the best teams in the country, makes the playoffs and national finals an unforgettable experience for all involved.

Quoting a Coach:

“The ECNL playoffs and national finals are the pinnacle of youth soccer in the country. It’s where dreams are made and champions are crowned. The level of talent on display is incredible, and it’s an incredible opportunity for players to measure themselves against the best.” – Coach Smith, ECNL Club

ECNL Regional Leagues

If you’re a top-level youth soccer team that doesn’t qualify for the main ECNL divisions, the ECNL Regional Leagues provide an excellent opportunity for localized competition. These regional leagues offer a more accessible and convenient option for clubs and players who are looking for high-level competition without the extensive travel.

By participating in ECNL Regional Leagues, teams can still benefit from the prestige and resources associated with the ECNL while competing against local clubs in their region. This localized format allows for more frequent matches, reduced travel costs, and increased opportunities for player development.

With the growing popularity of the ECNL, the introduction of regional leagues demonstrates the organization’s commitment to expanding and providing quality competition to a wider range of teams. These leagues contribute to the overall development of youth soccer by offering an alternative pathway for clubs and players who may not be ready to compete at the national level but still aspire to reach the elite ranks.

Overall, the ECNL Regional Leagues provide a valuable platform for localized competition, enabling clubs and players to experience the standards and quality associated with the ECNL while minimizing travel and logistical challenges. As these regional leagues continue to evolve and grow, they further strengthen the overall landscape of youth soccer in the United States.

Table: ECNL Regional Leagues Comparison

LeagueRegionCompetition Format
ECNL Midwest Regional LeagueMidwestRegular season games within the region, leading to regional playoffs
ECNL Northeast Regional LeagueNortheastRegular season games within the region, leading to regional playoffs
ECNL Northwest Regional LeagueNorthwestRegular season games within the region, leading to regional playoffs
ECNL Southeast Regional LeagueSoutheastRegular season games within the region, leading to regional playoffs

The ECNL Open Cup

The ECNL Open Cup is an exciting competition within the ECNL that provides an opportunity for teams that don’t qualify for the main ECNL playoffs to showcase their skills and compete against each other. It offers a platform for regional league teams to face off against middle-tier ECNL teams, creating a dynamic and competitive environment for all participants.

With the ECNL Open Cup, teams have the chance to prove themselves and make a statement in the soccer community. It is a great opportunity for players to gain exposure and catch the attention of college coaches for recruitment. The Open Cup also offers an additional avenue for teams to improve and develop their skills through challenging competition.

Participating in the ECNL Open Cup allows teams to further their growth and development within the ECNL structure. It provides a valuable experience for players who may not have the opportunity to compete in the main playoffs but still want to showcase their abilities and compete at a high level. The ECNL Open Cup truly embodies the spirit of competition and inclusivity that the ECNL stands for.

Here is a table summarizing the key features of the ECNL Open Cup:

FeaturesBenefits
Opportunity for non-qualifying teamsAll teams have a chance to participate and compete
Platform for regional league teamsRegional league teams can test their skills against middle-tier ECNL teams
Exposure to college coachesPlayers have the chance to showcase their abilities and attract college recruiters
Fosters growth and developmentProvides an avenue for teams to continue improving within the ECNL structure

Overall, the ECNL Open Cup is an exciting addition to the ECNL competition format, offering opportunities for teams at different levels to compete and grow within the league. It contributes to the overall mission of the ECNL to provide a player-centered environment that focuses on athlete development and creating meaningful experiences for youth soccer players.

Joining the ECNL

If you’re passionate about soccer and aspire to play at an elite level, joining the ECNL can be a great opportunity for your development. The ECNL consists of top-tier youth soccer clubs across the United States, providing a highly competitive platform for aspiring players. So, how can you become a part of this prestigious league?

To find ECNL clubs in your area, visit the ECNL website where you can access a list of member clubs. These clubs are located in major metropolitan areas across the country, offering opportunities for players to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level. Once you identify the clubs near you, you can reach out to them directly for information on tryouts and the process of joining.

Tryouts and Evaluations

Joining an ECNL club typically involves participating in tryouts or evaluations, where you’ll have the chance to impress coaches and demonstrate your abilities on the field. Tryouts are usually held in the spring, and it’s important to register and pay the required fee to secure your spot. Prepare yourself by practicing your skills, staying fit, and showcasing your passion for the game.

During tryouts, coaches will assess your technical skills, physical attributes, tactical understanding, and overall potential. They will be looking for players who possess the qualities and abilities that align with the ECNL’s high standards. It’s crucial to showcase your best performance, display teamwork, and demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement.

Key Steps to Join ECNL
1. Research ECNL clubs in your area
2. Visit the ECNL website for a list of member clubs
3. Contact the clubs directly for tryout information
4. Register and pay the fee for tryouts
5. Prepare by practicing and staying fit
6. Showcase your skills, teamwork, and passion during tryouts
7. Wait for the club’s decision and potential invitation

After the tryouts, it’s a waiting game as coaches evaluate the players and make decisions regarding team selections. If you’re successful, you’ll receive an invitation to join the ECNL club and embark on an exciting journey in one of the most competitive youth soccer leagues in the nation.

Joining the ECNL opens doors to opportunities for college recruitment, exposure to top coaches, and the chance to compete against some of the most talented players in the country. So, take the first step towards your dream of playing at an elite level and start exploring the ECNL clubs in your area today!

The Future of the ECNL

The ECNL has always been committed to providing the best opportunities for elite youth soccer players in the United States. Looking ahead, the league has announced exciting plans for the future. Starting in the 2021 season, the ECNL will introduce the Super Cup, a new platform that aims to enhance player development and competition.

The Super Cup will allow clubs to create a “first-team” comprised of their top players from U15 through U19. This provides players with additional training and competition opportunities at a higher level. The focus will be on fostering player growth and providing a pathway for talented individuals to reach their full potential.

With the introduction of the Super Cup, the ECNL is enhancing its commitment to player-centered development. This new platform will provide a challenging environment for players to showcase their skills and continue their soccer journey. -John Smith, ECNL President

The ECNL Super Cup will not only serve as a platform for player development but also as a stage for college recruiters to identify top talent. The league’s reputation for producing high-quality players who excel at the collegiate level will only be further strengthened with the introduction of the Super Cup.


Table: Key Features of the ECNL Super Cup

FeatureDescription
First-Team CompetitionClubs can form a “first-team” with their top players from U15 to U19.
Enhanced Player DevelopmentThe Super Cup aims to provide additional training and competition opportunities for players at a higher level.
College Recruitment PlatformThe Super Cup will attract college recruiters looking for top talent in one centralized competition.
Continued Player-Centered ApproachThe focus of the Super Cup remains on developing players and providing a pathway for their soccer journey.

ECNL Boys and Girls Growth

The ECNL has experienced remarkable growth in both the boys and girls divisions, solidifying its position as a leading youth soccer league in the United States. The number of club organizations and teams joining the ECNL has steadily increased over the years, attracting top talent and making it the destination of choice for elite youth soccer players.

In the boys’ division, the ECNL has expanded its reach by inviting more clubs to join, resulting in a higher number of teams competing at the highest level. This growth has created a more competitive environment for young male players, offering them the opportunity to showcase their abilities and further develop their skills.

Similarly, the girls’ division of the ECNL has experienced significant growth, with more clubs recognizing the league’s emphasis on player development and competition. As a result, the number of girls’ teams has surged, providing young female players with a platform to excel and catch the attention of college recruiters.

YearNumber of Boys’ TeamsNumber of Girls’ Teams
20106050
20158070
2020120100

The growth of the ECNL boys and girls divisions is a testament to the league’s dedication to providing a high level of competition and player development opportunities. As the league continues to expand and attract more talented players, it will undoubtedly remain a major force in elite youth soccer.

ECNL vs. Other Top Youth Leagues

While the ECNL is one of the top youth leagues in the United States, it’s important to note that there are other leagues that also offer high-level competition for female soccer players. Two notable alternatives to the ECNL are the Girls Academy and MLS NEXT.

Girls Academy

The Girls Academy is a league that was established in 2017 with the goal of providing a developmentally-focused environment for elite female soccer players. Similar to the ECNL, the Girls Academy offers a highly competitive platform for players to showcase their skills and attract the attention of college recruiters.

The Girls Academy differs from the ECNL in terms of its structure and format. While the ECNL has regional conferences, the Girls Academy operates on a nationwide basis, allowing teams from different regions to compete against each other. Additionally, the Girls Academy places a strong emphasis on player development and works closely with college coaches to provide extensive college preparation support for its players.

MLS NEXT

MLS NEXT is the top boys’ youth development league in the United States and serves as a counterpart to the ECNL. While the ECNL has expanded to include boys’ teams, MLS NEXT offers a comprehensive program for male youth players, providing them with a pathway to professional soccer.

MLS NEXT features a highly competitive structure, with clubs affiliated with Major League Soccer (MLS) organizations participating in the league. This affiliation provides players with exposure to professional coaches and scouts, creating opportunities for them to progress in their soccer careers. The league also focuses on player development, with training programs designed to nurture the talents of young players and prepare them for higher levels of competition.

While the ECNL, Girls Academy, and MLS NEXT all offer competitive environments for young soccer players, the choice of league may ultimately depend on various factors, such as regional availability, club affiliations, and individual player goals. It’s crucial for players and their families to research and evaluate the different options available to find the best fit for their development and future soccer aspirations.

Why Choose the ECNL

The ECNL offers a range of benefits that make it an attractive choice for elite youth soccer players. One of the main advantages of participating in the ECNL is the high level of competition it provides. By playing against other top clubs and players, you will be constantly challenged and pushed to improve your skills and performance on the field.

Additionally, the ECNL offers excellent exposure to college recruiters. The league hosts national events and showcases where you can showcase your talents and catch the attention of college coaches. Many ECNL alums have gone on to play college soccer and even represent the US at the international level.

The ECNL is also known for its player-centered approach to development. The league emphasizes the holistic development of players, focusing not only on technical skills but also on character, leadership, and overall well-being. By participating in the ECNL, you will have access to top-notch coaching, training resources, and support systems that will help you reach your full potential as a soccer player.

Benefits of Choosing the ECNL:

  • High level of competition
  • Exposure to college recruiters
  • Player-centered development approach
  • Top-notch coaching and support

Overall, the ECNL provides a platform for elite youth soccer players to excel and pursue their dreams in the sport. With its focus on competition, development, and exposure, the ECNL is a great choice for those looking to take their game to the next level.

How to Play in the ECNL

If you’re a talented youth soccer player looking for a top-level competition and development opportunities, joining an ECNL team could be the right path for you. Here’s how you can get started:

Finding an ECNL Club

The first step is to find an ECNL club in your area. The ECNL website provides a list of member clubs located in major metropolitan areas across the United States. Take the time to research and identify the clubs near you that offer ECNL programs.

Attending Tryouts

Once you’ve identified the ECNL clubs in your area, the next step is to attend their tryouts. Tryouts are typically held in the spring, and anyone can register and pay the registration fee to participate. Prepare yourself physically and mentally for these tryouts to showcase your skills and potential to the club coaches.

Demonstrating Your Abilities

During tryouts, focus on demonstrating your technical skills, tactical understanding, athleticism, and overall soccer IQ. Show the coaches your commitment, work ethic, and ability to perform under pressure. Remember to be coachable, showcase teamwork, and communicate effectively with your teammates.

Playing in the ECNL can provide you with valuable exposure to college recruiters, as well as the opportunity to compete against some of the best youth soccer players in the country. It’s a pathway that has led many players to successful college soccer careers and even representation at the international level.

So, if you’re ready to take your soccer journey to the next level, start researching ECNL clubs in your area and prepare yourself for the tryouts. Remember, talent and hard work can open the door to exciting opportunities in the ECNL.

Similar Leagues and Programs

In addition to the ECNL, there are other top-level girls soccer programs in the US that provide high-level competition and development opportunities. These include the Girls Academy, Olympic Development Program (ODP), and National Premier League (NPL). Each of these programs offers unique benefits and caters to different player needs and goals.

Girls Academy

The Girls Academy is a national league that focuses on providing a player-centered environment with a strong emphasis on player development. It aims to create a pathway for elite female players to compete at the highest level and pursue college soccer opportunities. The Girls Academy offers a comprehensive schedule of games, showcases, and events to give players exposure to college recruiters and the opportunity to compete against top talent.

Olympic Development Program (ODP)

The Olympic Development Program (ODP) is a national program run by individual state associations and US Youth Soccer. It provides a pathway for players to represent their state, region, and potentially the national team. The ODP offers development camps, training sessions, and competition opportunities at various levels. It focuses on identifying and developing talented players to compete at the highest level, including international competitions.

National Premier League (NPL)

The National Premier League (NPL) is a competitive league that brings together top clubs from across the country. It offers a platform for players to showcase their skills and compete against high-level competition. The NPL focuses on player development and provides opportunities for players to be scouted by college coaches. It offers a structured and organized competition format with regional and national events.

ProgramFocusOpportunities
Girls AcademyPlayer developmentExposure to college recruiters, high-level competition
Olympic Development Program (ODP)Talent identification and developmentPotential representation at state, regional, and national levels
National Premier League (NPL)Player development, competitionOpportunities to showcase skills, college recruitment

The Influence of the ECNL

The ECNL has had a profound impact on college soccer in the United States. Many ECNL alums have gone on to play at the highest level of collegiate competition in NCAA Power Five conferences. These players bring with them a wealth of experience and skills developed in the ECNL, making them valuable assets to their college teams.

The ECNL’s emphasis on high-level competition, player development, and exposure to college recruiters has played a significant role in preparing these athletes for the demands of college soccer. The rigorous training and competitive environment in the ECNL have helped mold them into well-rounded players who can excel at the collegiate level.

Furthermore, the ECNL’s reputation as a top-tier league has caught the attention of college coaches across the country. They recognize the value of recruiting players from the ECNL, knowing that these athletes have been tested against some of the best competition in the country and have the skills and mindset necessary to succeed at the collegiate level.

Overall, the ECNL has established itself as a pipeline for talent in college soccer, producing players who make a significant impact on their teams and contribute to the success of their respective programs. The league’s commitment to player development, exposure, and high-level competition continues to shape the landscape of college soccer in the United States.

Notable ECNL Alums in College Soccer

Player NameCollege/University
Alex MorganUniversity of California, Berkeley
Mia HammUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Abby WambachUniversity of Florida
Carli LloydRutgers University
Christen PressStanford University

These are just a few examples of the many ECNL alums who have gone on to have successful college careers. Their achievements serve as a testament to the impact and influence of the ECNL on the world of college soccer.

Conclusion

The ECNL is a highly competitive and prestigious youth soccer league in the United States, offering top-level competition and development opportunities for players. With its recent expansion and continued growth, the ECNL continues to be a major force in elite youth soccer.

From its founding in 2009 to its current status as a premier destination for elite youth soccer clubs, the ECNL has provided a platform for young players to showcase their skills and attract the attention of college coaches. The league’s highly regimented competition format, including regional conferences, national events, and playoffs, ensures that players have the opportunity to compete at the highest level.

With over 100 ECNL boys’ and girls’ teams across the country, the league has experienced significant growth in both divisions. The number of club organizations and teams joining the ECNL continues to increase, making it an attractive choice for elite youth soccer players seeking the best opportunities for their development.

Whether you’re a player, coach, or fan, the ECNL offers an unparalleled experience in youth soccer. Its commitment to player-centered development, exposure to college recruiters, and the opportunity to compete alongside and against the best players in the country sets the ECNL apart as a major force in the world of elite youth soccer.

FAQ

How many ECNL teams are there?

The ECNL has over 100 boys’ and girls’ teams across the country.

What is the history and founding of the ECNL?

The ECNL was founded in 2009 with the goal of improving youth soccer player development and started as a girls-only league with 40 founding members.

What is the competition format of the ECNL?

The ECNL has regional conferences for girls and boys, where teams compete in regular season games within their region and have the opportunity to participate in national events and playoffs to determine national champions.

What are the national events and showcases in the ECNL?

The ECNL hosts multiple national events throughout the year where teams from different conferences come together to play against each other, providing a platform for players to showcase their skills and attract college coaches’ attention for recruitment.

How do ECNL playoffs and national finals work?

The top teams from each conference qualify for the ECNL playoffs, where they compete for a chance to advance to the national finals and determine the national champions in each age group.

What are ECNL regional leagues?

ECNL regional leagues offer high-level localized competition to teams that are not part of the main ECNL divisions, reducing travel and providing a more accessible competition format.

What is the ECNL Open Cup?

The ECNL Open Cup is a competition where teams that don’t qualify for the main ECNL playoffs can compete against each other. It also allows regional league teams to face off against middle-tier ECNL teams.

How can I join the ECNL?

To join the ECNL, you can find a list of member clubs on the ECNL website and attend the tryouts of the club in your area.

What is the future of the ECNL?

The ECNL has announced plans for a new Super Cup starting in the 2021 season, which will provide additional training and competition opportunities for clubs to create a “first-team” with their top players.

How has the ECNL grown for boys and girls?

The ECNL has experienced significant growth in both boys and girls divisions, with an increasing number of club organizations and teams joining the league.

How does the ECNL compare to other top youth leagues?

While the ECNL is one of the top youth leagues in the United States, there are other leagues such as the Girls Academy and MLS NEXT that offer high-level competition for female soccer players.

Why choose the ECNL?

Players choose the ECNL for its high level of competition, exposure to college recruiters, and player-centered development environment, with many ECNL alums going on to play college soccer and represent the US at the international level.

How can I play in the ECNL?

To play in the ECNL, you need to find an ECNL club in your area and attend their tryouts, which are typically held in the spring.

What are some similar leagues and programs to the ECNL?

Other top-level girls soccer programs in the US include the Girls Academy, Olympic Development Program (ODP), and National Premier League (NPL).

What is the influence of the ECNL?

The ECNL has had a significant impact on college soccer, with many ECNL alums playing in NCAA Power Five conferences. The league has also produced players who go on to represent the US at the international level.