FRISCO, Texas (Nov. 18, 2013)
— The seventh season of US Youth Soccer National League
play kicks off Thursday, Nov. 21 in Wilson, N.C., when all 80 boys teams in the Under-14 through Under-18 age groups meet to begin the season. Last year featured several outstanding team and individual performances
as the league continues to grow in both size and competitiveness.
The 2013-2014 season will mark the addition of a new age group, as the Under-14 Boys and Girls squads will compete in National League for the first time. Several new squads will join returning National League teams this season as they look to follow up last year’s standout play.
In 2012-2013, Sunrise Elite 97/98 (FL) became just the fourth boys team to finish a National League season with zero losses or ties, as the Florida side went 7-0-0. As Sunrise enters the Under-16 age group, it will look to become just the fourth boys team to win multiple National League division titles. Another team that can get its second title is OBGC Rangers (MD), which has scored a league-record 22 goals in each of the last two seasons.
Other defending National League title winners are GSA Phoenix 97 Premier (GA), CCV Stars 97 Black (AZ) and CUP Gold 95/96 (OH-S). GSA, which has three teams in the league, will have a few chances to win the club’s fourth National League title. GSA’s three titles are currently tied with Dallas Texans for the most by one club in league history.
West Coast FC (CA-S), which defeated CUP Gold 95/96 in the final at the 2013 National Championships, is one of two National Champions in this year’s National League field, along with Smithtown Arsenal (E-NY). After qualifying for Nationals through National League, West Coast is looking forward to returning to the league this season.
"One of the things of the National League that I like is the way it’s run," said Neil Armour, head coach of West Coast FC. "We had never done it before and when we went to North Carolina the fields were great, the competition was fantastic and the organization was very professional. When we ended up qualifying and going to the National Championships and went to Kansas, the level of professionalism was fantastic."
National League boys teams claimed two of four possible National Championships in 12-13 and 26 national qualifiers are among the field in this year’s National League. Once again, the top two finishers in each division of each age group will receive an automatic bid to Nationals. The four National League representatives will join the four Regional Champions in Germantown, Md., July 22-27 at the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships
. Winning 26 of a possible 38 National Championships through the first six seasons, National League teams enter the season knowing it could be the beginning of a run to the National title.
As a defending National Champion, Smithtown coach Tom Lips is excited for his team’s chance to earn a trip back to Nationals through the National League, but he knows it will be no easy task.
"It’s the most competitive league in the country," Lips said. "Soccer is a funny game. If you’re not on, you might be able to pull it off sometimes. In the National League, if you’re not on, there’s a good chance you can’t pull it off. There’s no room for error. It’s either you’re on or you’re not. We love the reffing, the facilities, we like the game rules, the subbing situation. Everything about it, we like. It’s a top league for us."
For a preview of each age group…