The Girls DA launched in 2017 with 69 clubs. New Jersey-based Sky Blue-PDA, the Michigan Hawks and the FC Stars of Massachusetts will not be returning to the DA for the 2018-19 season.
PDA, whose alum include Tobin Heath and Heather O’Reilly, has in 2018 had players selected to U.S. U-18, U-16 and U-14 national teams. Two FC Stars players, Michela Agresti and Payton Linnehan, are on the U-17 World Cup qualifying roster. The Michigan Hawks, whose alum include world champs Lindsay Tarpley and Kate Sobrero-Markgraff, has players on the U-18, U-16 and U-15 national teams.
U.S. Soccer’s quest to make its DA the top tier of girls soccer in the USA has been made more difficult because of the well-established ECNL.
Among the issues that have made the DA less appealing for some clubs is U.S. Soccer’s strong stance against high school soccer participation, its prohibition on players participating in competitions outside of DA-sanctioned events, substitution rules (eg: no re-entry), strict guidelines on how to coach, and stringent coaching license requirements.
In March, the Virginia Development Academy announced it would leave the DA and join the ECNL for the 2018-19 season. FC Kansas City, which was affiliated with the now defunct NWSL club of the same name, has become KC Athletics and will be playing in the ECNL next season instead of the DA.
While five clubs are leaving the DA, U.S. Soccer has announced the addition of four clubs for the 2018-19 season: Oklahoma Energy, Sporting Omaha, Utah Royals (Arizona) and Arlington Soccer Association.