SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. Arsenal, Pateadores, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf, Strikers FC -- founding members of the Boys DA that launched in 2007 -- and FC Golden State signed up for the Boys ECNL for the 2020-2021 season as members of the Southwest Conference.
Pateadores won the 2010-11 DA U-17/18 national title. 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 below), 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.”
NORTHWEST: Crossfire Premier, another Boys DA club from start, also committed to the ECNL, where its younger boys team and its girls had been competing.
“Just as with the girls programming, we found a competitive, compelling league format and national structure that allows for us to seek and find the highest possible level of competition for our teams,” said Director of Coaching Bernie James. “Putting our players in a demanding game environment is a crucial component of our development model, and we feel the ECNL provides our club with an ideal platform for elite competition and player development. We are excited to be moving our top boys’ teams into the ECNL in 2020-21.”
Crossfire in the previous two seasons finished first in a division that included MLS clubs Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes -- and two other teams that were placed in the higher tier: De Anza Force and Sacramento Republic. Crossfire also reached the quarterfinals in the last three seasons in the competition among nearly 80 clubs.
But U.S. Soccer before the 2019-2010 moved Crossfire's U-19s into the lower division when it tiered the oldest age group.
MID-ATLANTIC. The ECNL Boys' Mid-Atlantic Conference will expand to 15 clubs for the 2020-21 season with the additions from U.S. Soccer's Development Academy.
For the 2019-20 Boys Development season, Charlotte Independence, Charlotte Soccer Academy, North Carolina Fusion, North Carolina FC, Richmond United and Virginia Development Academy fielded teams in each age Boys DA group (U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16/17, U-18/19).
“In an already challenging time in sport and society, we are seeing great leadership from clubs of all backgrounds coming together to compete in the ECNL,” said ECNL President Christian Lavers. “Our league will continue to work with as many clubs as possible to create a transparent competition pathway that puts the player and their interest first, respects individual club culture, and empowers grassroots leadership in the game.”
ECNL Mid-Atlantic Conference
BRYC Elite Academy
Charlotte Independence Pro
Charlotte Independence South
Charlotte Soccer Academy
Charlotte Soccer ECNL
North Carolina FC Academy
South Carolina United
Virginia Development Academy
green = additions for 2020-21
“The structure of the new Mid-Atlantic Conference allows clubs to create the competition schedule that best fits their culture and program, while ensuring that every team has the opportunity to compete against every other team,” said ECNL Boys Commissioner Jason Kutney. “This is a result of a lot of work, idea-sharing, and discussion between everyone, and is a credit to open-minded and collaborative clubs creating a platform that is best for the game.”