1. Dallas Texans. The Texans made history in 2008 when they won three girls titles at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships, the most ever by a club in a season. By comparison, 2009 was a good but not great year. The Texans won the U-16 and U17 girls titles in the U.S. Youth National League but their best finish at the National Championships was second place in the U-15 division (the Texans lost to San Diego Surf on penalty kicks). Texans are scattered throughout the girls national team program, including Alexis Harris, who is with the U-20s and is committed to Texas, and Courtney Smith and Juliann Jeffrey, who are with the U-18s.
2. Eclipse Select. For the second year in a row, Eclipse Select captured three titles at the Region II Championships. In 2009, Rory Dames' U-17s returned to Illinois with the national championship, the fifth in the last six years. Eclipse Select, which sent three U.S. players to the 2008 Under-17 World Cup, had two players, Angela Waddle and Summer Schafer, go to the under-14 identification camp.
3. So Cal Blues. The Blues claimed top honors at the 2009 Region IV championships, winning the under-15 and under-16 competitions and finishing second in the under-14 and under-18 finals. Pioneering youth coach Tad Bobak has been on the Blues' staff since 1990. Blues star Elizabeth Eddy will attend USC in 2010. Young Blues Kelly McCann and Amber Munerlyn attended the U-14 national team camp in August.
4. Slammers FC. The Southern California club won three regional titles in 2008 and two in 2007 but is still looking for a fourth U.S. national title that has eluded it since its U-16 title in 2005. U-18 national team forwards Michelle Cruz and Natalia Ledezma will attend Portland and UCLA, respectively, in 2010.
5. Colorado Rush. Rush set a girls record in 2009 when it won its ninth U.S. Youth Soccer championship. The U-19 title came on the heels of a U-18 title a year earlier. The star again was Danielle Foxhoven, now a sophomore at the University of Portland. Up-and-coming players include U.S. U-17 national team keeper Molly Poletto.
6. San Diego Surf. Surf did the double, winning U-15 titles at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships and in the National League, edging the Dallas Texans both times. The title was Surf's fourth national championship, the most of any Cal South girls team. Maya Theuer is one of the nation's most highly regarded sophomores.
7. PDA. The Fire, winner of the group stage in the U-17 competition at National Championships, was the 16th PDA team to win a regional title in the last decade. Young players from the New Jersey club who recently joined the national team program include Madison Kenny, Natasha Kouo-Ntone and Caroline Chagares.
8. Mustang Soccer. The Northern California club won its second U.S. Youth Soccer national championship when the U-14 Blast captured the 2009 title. Two Blast players, Stephanie Amack and Reilly Parker, attended the under-15 national team camp. Mustang's U-12 and U-13 teams finished second at regionals.
9. Michigan Hawks. The Hawks (part of the program that also includes the highly successful boys Wolves) have won four U.S. Youth Soccer national titles, most recently in 2004. It produced two regional champions in 2009 and sent Alex Gjonaj, Summer Green, Ashton Miller and Lianna Simms to U-15 or U-14 national team camps.
10. Force FC. The Bloomfield, Mich., club was only the second team to take U-18 and U-19 U.S. Youth Soccer titles in consecutive years when it won them in 2007 and 2008. Michigan State star Laura Heyboer was one of 18 Force players to go on to college.
11. Sting Soccer. The Dallas club won the first national girls championship in 1980 and has gone on to win seven other U.S. Youth Soccer titles, most recently the 2007 U-14 Elmer Ehlers Cup.
12. FC Stars of Massachusetts. The Stars won back-to-back U-14 regional titles in 2007 and 2008 and went on to finish second at the '08 National Championships. Hayley Brock and Morgan Andrews of the U-16 Stars and Corey Persson of the U-15 team attended national team camps over the winter.
13. McLean Premier. The Virginia travel program is affiliated with the McLean Youth Soccer Association and WPS's Washington Freedom. It became only the fourth Virginia team to win a U.S. Youth Soccer girls championship when it captured the 2007 U-16 title. Jenna Richmond, who starred on the 2007 team, plans on attending UCLA next fall.
14. Albertson SC. The Long Island club has one of the best programs in the Northeast. Paul Riley, its director of training, was recently named the head coach of the new WPS team in Philadelphia. Vicki and Rosie DiMartino are the last of four DiMartino sisters to play in the U.S. girls national team program.
15. De Anza Force. Former pro Shawn Medved, best known for scoring the tying goal for D.C. United in the inaugural MLS Cup, led the Force it its first national championship. It emerged as the best team in a loaded U-16 field at the U.S. Youth Soccer nationals. Adidas Golden Boot winner Alesha Blair has trained with the U.S. under-17 national team.
16. CASL. The North Carolina club swept both U-14 regional finals, and the Spartan Elite went on to finish second at the National Championships. It was the girls' third appearance in the nationals in the last five years. Joanna Boyles and Claire Wagner, who were on the '09 runner-up team, trained with the U-14 national team.
17. San Juan SC. The Sacramento club won the 2008 U-14 girls championship at the U.S. Youth Soccer finals. Goalie Katelyn Rowland and midfielder Haley Washburn spent time this summer with the U.S. U-15 team that is preparing for the 2010 U-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad & Tobago.
18. FC Bucks. Part of the Council Rock Youth Soccer Association, FC Bucks became the first girls team from Pennsylvania to win a U.S. Youth Soccer title when the Vipers won the U-18 title. It came a year after they finished in a three-way tie in group play at the U-17 finals and were eliminated in a tiebreaker.
19. Eagles SC. The California club's U-19s' bid to become only the third girls team to win three U.S. Youth Soccer national titles ended in the Region IV semifinals, where they fell to eventual national champion Colorado Rush. Alexandra Courtnall spent time this year with the U.S. U-17 national team.
20. Carmel United. The Indiana club captured its first national title in 2007 when it won the U-19 Ross Stewart Cup. Its U-13, U-14, U-15 and U-18 teams all won 2009 state championships - and the U-14 final was a battle of Carmel teams.
21. Sereno SC. The Phoenix area club returns to the Soccer America rankings. It had two players, Carrie Whigham and Ellen Parker, in the U-18 national team camp. Its four youngest teams all advanced to the '09 Region IV semifinals.
22. Pleasanton Rage. Rage, of Northern California, won national championships in 2002 and 2004 and remains a perennial contender in Region IV. Rage star Olivia Klei enrolled at Santa Clara after starring for the U.S. U-17s. Two Rage high school juniors - Paige Diamond and Tracy Hong - were all-stars at the '09 adidas ESP camp.
23. Ponte Vedra SC. PVSC's U-16s' bid to become the first Florida team to win a U.S. Youth Soccer national championship came up one game short. Morgan Brian, the youngest player on last year's U-17 World Cup team, is one of several Ponte Vedra players in the national team program.
24. St. Louis Scott Gallagher. SLSC won its seventh Region I girls title in the last decade when it captured the U-15 title. High school junior Jessica Kelley was selected to play in the 2009 adidas ESP all-star game.
25. Arsenal SC. The New Jersey club has an outstanding record of sending players to the national team program and college. Amber Brooks, the 2009 Parade High School Girls Player of the Year, followed the Arsenal pipeline to North Carolina started by Yael Averbuch. Younger players in the national team program include Gabby Cuevas, Jenna Gibney, Jessica Lee and D'Yonna Riley.
26. FC Delco. One of the dominant boys programs since the advent of big-time travel programs two decades ago, Pennsylvania's FC Delco also has a solid girls program. The Fury reached the National Championships in 2008 and 2009.
27. Scorpions SC. The Massachusetts club is best known as the home of the Mewis sisters, Kristie, the 2008 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, and Sam, teammates on the 2008 U.S. U-17 World Cup runner-up team. It's had an excellent track record at younger ages, sending U-15 and U-14 teams to the National Championships the last two years.
28. KCFC. KCFC's Intensity team won the 2008 Region III under-15 championship. Its star, U.S. U-17 forward Shea Groom, made the 2009 adidas ESP all-star team, while Savannah Trujillo of KCFC's Futura Academy is a striker in the U-14 national team program.
29. Sockers FC Chicago. The Sockers are best known for its boys program that produced U.S. national team stars Michael Bradley and Jonathan Spector, but they are one of the hottest girls programs. Three Sockers - Katie Naughton Kelli Hubly and Courtney Raetzman - attended this summer's U-15 national team camp.
30. FC Pennsylvania Strikers. The Strikers have reached the National Championships the last two years with their U-19s (2008) and U-15s (2009). U-15 star Brittany Ratcliffe, who hails from New Jersey, attended last winter's super camp for under-15 and under-17 national team players.
31. Solar SC. The Dallas area club won of the 2007 Region III U-18 title and has several outstanding players rising through the ranks. High school junior Whitney Jaynes was a 2009 adidas ESP all-star and Heather Magee and Taylor Smith participated in the under-17 national team program.
32. Lonestar SC. The Austin, Texas, club sent its '93 Red team to the 2008 National Championships. It had six players, including U-20 national team defender Rachel Lenz, at this summer's Region III ODP camp and Sam Gonzalez and Amanda Ortegon were with Mexico's U-20s.
33. Real So Cal. The Southern California club sent its '92 team to the Region IV championship games in 2008 and 2009. Sam Johnson, now at USC, and Ariana Martinez, a high school senior, play on the U.S. under-18 national team.
34. D'Feeters SC. The Dallas area program is still going strong 31 years after its founding. It has one of the country's top juniors in U-18 national team forward Chioma Ubogagu.
35. Montclair United SC. The New Jersey team came close at this year's Region I championships, sending two teams (U-18s and U-16s) to the finals. Maya Hayes of the U-18 Aristocats was one of the most sought-after seniors in the country and will play for Penn State next year.
36. FC Milwaukee. The Wisconsin club has been a force in Region II, sending 11 girls teams to the regional semifinals over the last three years. Brittany Von Rueden was one of four rising sophomores to earn all-star honors at the 2009 adidas ESP camp.
37. Ohio Elite Soccer Academy. The U-18s' run at the 2009 National Championship ended in the final, where they fell, 1-0. Their regional title came four years after they won the U-14 crown. Two players - North Carolina-bound Elizabeth Burchenal and Indiana-bound Lisa Nouanesengsy - remain in high school.
38. Chantilly SC. Chantilly has made a name for itself in Virginia's western Fairfax County. The U-15 Burn won the 2009 Region I championship and sent midfielder Caroline Coyer to the U-15 national team camp in July.
39. Crossfire Premier. The Seattle area team has sent teams to Region IV championship games the last four years and the '09 U-17s, led by 2008 U.S. U-17 World Cup player Kate Bennett, won the regional crown. Crossfire also won the 2009 U.S. Club Soccer U-14 Super Group.
40. North Atlanta SA. The Georgia program is developing a lot of young talent. Goalie Jane Campbell and midfielder Randi Schroedel attended this summer's U.S. Soccer under-14 identification camp in California.
(This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Soccer America magazine.)