Six Southern California Boys DA clubs commit to the ECNL

Arsenal, FC Golden State, Pateadores, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf and Strikers FC will join the Boys ECNL for the 2020-2021 season as members of the Southwest Conference. All six are members the Boys Development Academy run by U.S. Soccer. While U.S. Soccer has yet to a make public announcement, two sources from MLS clubs have told Soccer America that they were informed that U.S. Soccer is terminating its DA.
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Arsenal, Strikers, Pateadores, Real So Cal and Surf were founding members of the Boys DA that launched in 2007. Pateadores won the 2010-11 DA U-17/18 national title. FC Golden State joined the DA in 2013.

“The addition of these clubs, along with our current members, will make the Southwest Conference of ECNL Boys the preeminent competition in the region,” said ECNL Boys Commissioner Jason Kutney. “Creating this incredible level of localized competition through the willingness to work together with other clubs for the benefit of the sport will provide a great spark for the youth game overall.”

The ENCL, which launched its girls league in 2009, launched the Boys ECNL in 2017. On the girls side, well before rumors of U.S. Soccer ending the DA, girls clubs had been defecting from the 2017-launched Girls DA for the ECNL. Some Boys DA clubs, in the Northwest and Northern California, had moved lower age teams to the ECNL.

At the U-16/17 age group in the 2019-20 season, those six clubs are part of the DA's 13 West Conference teams, which include MLS clubs Real Salt Lake, LAFC, LA Galaxy, and MLS club affiliate LA Galaxy San Diego. Barca Residency Academy, Nomads SC and Albion SC round out the division.

Alum from Arsenal, founded in 1986, include former U.S. internationals Carlos Bocanegra, now a member of U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors, Nick Rimando, Aaron Long and Paul Arriola.

Pateadores alum include MLS 2019 No. 1 draft pick Frankie Amaya (pictured above), John Thorrington, Danny Califf, Maurice Edu, Matt Reis and Luis Silva.

The San Diego Surf was founded in 1977 and Strikers FC in 1984.

“I am excited for this new chapter for our club,” said Strikers’ Executive Director of Soccer Don Ebert said in a press release. “Strikers FC has always tried to embrace change, as we believe that real growth can only happen if you are willing to change. I have no doubt that moving to the ECNL Boys will be a very positive step for all our players and families.”

As of Wednesday afternoon April 15, U.S. Soccer had not provided an update on the status of its current 2019-20 season or its future DA plans. DOCs of DA clubs contacted by Soccer America said they were frustrated by U.S. Soccer's lack of communication and had started exploring their options outside of the DA.

U.S. Soccer's role in youth soccer will change dramatically. For better or worse?

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