1-Dallas Texans. The Dallas Texans made history when they won three girls titles at the 2008 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in North Little Rock, Ark. In a battle of the titans of girls soccer, the Texans defeated Eclipse Select, last year's No. 1, to capture the U-17 and U-16 crowns. Between their five boys and five girls titles, the Texans hold the record with 10 national championships. Ryan Higginbotham, the Texans' girls director of coaching, was named 2008 NSCAA/adidas National Youth Girls Coach of the Year
2-Eclipse Select. The Chicago area club almost matched its achievement of sending four teams to the 2006 National Championships when it qualified three teams for the 2008 finals in North Little Rock. Its four national titles (all won in the last five years) put in a tie for fourth place among girls clubs. The program has quickly evolved from two teams in 1997 to more than 60 across five parts of Illinois.
3-So Cal Blues. The club began almost a quarter a century ago with one team, the U-19 Harbor City Bluejacks. The Blues have become a national powerhouse, winning national titles in 2000, 2005 and 2007. Program director Tab Bobak is the U.S. U-15 national team coach.
Haley Rosen, 15, is the Blues' hot prospect. The high school sophomore is a member of the U.S. under-16 national team and helped the Blues reach last year's under-15 final at the National Championships.
4-Slammers FC. The Slammers, another Southern California giant, sent six teams to the '08 Region IV championships and came away with three regional titles, one more than they won in 2007. Four seniors are ranked among the top 30 recruits in the country: Courtney Garcia (USC), Mariah Nogueira (Stanford), Zakiya Bywaters (UCLA) and Kylie Bono (Tennessee).
5-Sting SC. The Dallas club, winner of the first national girls championship in 1980, has sent four teams to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in the last three years and won its eighth title when it beat the Slammers, 2-1, in the 2007 U-14 Elmer Ehlers Cup final. The club has expanded out of Dallas to operate programs in East Texas.
Did you know?
The Sting pioneered competitive girls soccer, starting its first team in 1973 with players from local high school programs. It was the first girls team to venture outside the United States, playing in Mexico in 1976 and representing the USA and winning the first major international competition in China, the 1984 Xi'an Tournament.
6-PDA. Once again, the New Jersey program has teams ranked among both the boys and girls elite. PDA has sent four teams to the U.S. Youth Soccer nationals in the last three years and its teams won U.S. Club Soccer National Cup titles in 2006 and 2008. Four girls teams won state titles last season.
7-McLean Premier Soccer. MPS is part of McLean Youth Soccer, founded in 1970 and a leader in Washington area soccer in suburban Virginia. It won its first national title when the U-16 Freedom captured the 2007 Patricia L. Masotto Cup. Virginia-bound Julia Roberts was a starter on the U.S. team that finished second at the 2008 Under-17 Women's World Cup.
8-Colorado Rush. The Rush's U-18 crown at the 2008 National Championships was its eighth title at the U.S. Youth Soccer event, equaling the record among girls clubs it now shares with the Sting. Two players from the U-18 team - Emmalie Pfankuch and Savanna Hanson - went on to play on teams that won college championships - NCAA DI North Carolina and DII Seattle Pacific, respectively.
9-Force FC. The Michigan club made it two in a row at the 2008 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships, becoming only the second team to take the U-18 and U-19 titles in consecutive years. Laura Heyboer moved on to Michigan State, where she scored 21 goals during a brilliant freshman campaign.
10-San Juan SC. The U-14 Spirits won the first U.S. Youth Soccer title for a Sacramento area team - boys or girls - when they captured the 2008 Elmer Ehlers Cup. The club, now in its 13th year, sent 11 players on to Division I college programs last fall.
Alyssa Jara, who scored the second goal in the Spirits' 2-0 win over FC Stars of Massachusetts in the final, won the Golden Ball as the top offensive player of the U-14 competition. She plays in the Cal North ODP program.
11-Albertson SC. The Long Island club has built a reputation as one of the best producers of youth talent (boys or girls) in the New York area. It had two players - Crystal Dunn and Vicki DiMartino - on the U.S. team that was runner-up at the 2008 Under-17 Women's World Cup.
12-San Diego Surf. The Surf has been a force on the national girls scene for more than a decade, producing Olympic gold-medalist Rachel Buehler and Notre Dame star Carrie Dew among other defenders. The program's top young defender is Maya Theuer, a member of the U-15 national team.
13-Carmel United. The Indiana club had won six regional girls titles since 1996 before it captured its first national title in 2007 when it lifted the U-19 Ross Stewart Cup. It's coming off a season when it had five first-place and five second-place finishes at the Indiana state cup.
14-Scorpions SC. Based in southeastern Massachusetts, the Scorpions produced the first sister act to start for the USA at a world championship. Kristie Mewis, the 2008 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year, and younger sister Sam Mewis, played on the U.S. team that finished second at the 2008 Under-17 Women's World Cup. Sam was a member of the U-15 Scorpions, who won the 2008 Region I title.
15-Real Colorado. In the highly competitive Colorado girls state cup, Real Colorado teams have taken 11 championships in the last three years. Real's U-16s went on to win the Patricia L. Masotto Cup in 2006. Alumna Keelin Winters captained the USA to the 2008 Under-20 Women's World Cup championship.
16-Michigan Hawks. The Hawks produced two Olympic gold-medalists in Lindsay Tarpley and Kate Markgraf and have captured three national championships. They sent teams to all five fall state championships for the fourth straight year.
17-Eagles SC. The Southern California club won its second national title when it captured the 2007 U-17 Laura Moynihan Cup. Six months later, 15 Eagles signed letters of intent to play college soccer in the fall.
Christina Murillo was a key member of the Eagles U-16 team that won the annual "North vs. South Premier Tournament" of California teams and was called into the combined U-17 and U-15 mega-camp in late January in Florida.
18-FC Pennsylvania Strikers. The Strikers sent their U-19 team to the National Championships. All of the players on that team were already in college, playing Division I soccer at 11 different schools. The current U-15s were unbeaten after four games in their age group in the U.S. Youth Soccer National League.
19-FC Stars of Massachusetts. The Stars have sent teams to the National Championships the last two years. Hayley Brock played on the U.S. team that finished second at the U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand and Morgan Andrews was picked for the U-14 national team that attended the 2008 Nike Women's Friendlies.
20-Real So Cal. The Southern California club sent teams to the Region IV U-15 and U-16 championship games in 2008. Sam Johnson represented the USA at the 2008 Under-17 Women's World Cup.
21-Pleasanton Rage. The Rage has been a perennial Northern California producer of top talent, sending 133 graduates on to college since 2001. It was set to honor 19 graduating seniors who will sign with D1 schools in early February. The star of the class is classy U.S. U-17 midfielder Olivia Klei.
22-Crossfire Premier. Crossfire, another club represented in both the boys and girls Top 30s, has sent teams to finals at the last three Region IV championships. Midfielder Kate Bennett was part of the U.S. team that finished second in New Zealand at the U-17 world championships.
23-Irvine SC Strikers. The Strikers won their first girls U.S. Youth Soccer title in 2006 when they captured the U-14 division. By September, 16 girls from the Southern California club had committed to D1 programs for next fall or the year after.
24-Internationals SC. The Cleveland area club was ranked No. 2 in the Super Y-League's "First 11 Rankings" for girls clubs in 2008. Every Internationals team made the semifinals of the Ohio North State Cup and three teams won state titles.
25-Challenge SC. The Houston area club advanced to the U-19 division at the National Championships. It had two players, Amanda Essay and Addie Eggleston, earn NSCAA/adidas High School All-America honors.
26-Lonestar SC. The Austin, Texas, club finished second in its group in the U-15 division at the 2008 National Championships. Two Lonestars - Samantha Gonzalez and Amanda Ortegon - represented Mexico in U-17 World Cup qualifying.
27-Mustang Soccer. San Jose Earthquakes general manager and former U.S. international John Doyle directs the Mustang program, which won four Cal North titles in 2008.
Reilly Parker, known as "Boots," played for the U.S. under-14 national team at the 2008 Nike Women's Friendlies. She is playing as a freshman for San Ramon Valley.
28-Bethesda SC. The No. 1 team in the Soccer America's first girls rankings in 2004, Bethesda makes the Best Girls Clubs list for the sixth straight year. The team to watch in the girls program is the Freedom, the 2008 Region I U-13 champion.
29-Vardar SC. The Michigan club finished second in its group in the U-16 division at the 2008 National Championships. Anna Sieloff, who's headed to North Carolina in 2010, earned NSCAA/adidas All-American honors.
30-D'Feeters. The North Texas club, which sent its U-14 to last year's National Championships, has one of the oldest girls programs in the country. It won a national title in 1981, three years after it was founded. Soccer
America's Top 30 Girls
1. Dallas Texans
2. Eclipse Select
3. So Cal Blues
4. Slammers FC
5. Sting SC
7. McLean Premier Soccer
8. Colorado Rush
9. Force FC
10. San Juan SC
11. Albertson SC
12. San Diego Surf
13. Carmel United
14. Scorpions SC
15. Real Colorado
16. Michigan Hawks
17. Eagles SC
18. FC Pennsylvania Strikers
19. FC Stars of Mass.
20. Real So Cal
21. Pleasanton Rage
22. Crossfire Premier
23. Irvine SC Strikers
24. Internationals SC
25. Challenge SC
26. Lonestar SC
27. Mustang Soccer
28. Bethesda SC
29. Vardar SC
Criteria Soccer America selects the top 30 clubs based on success of their teams in national youth championships and national recognition for players from these clubs in 2008.
(This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Soccer America magazine.)
(This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Soccer America magazine.)