The sixth season of US Youth Soccer National League
play kicks off Thursday in Wilson, N.C. when all 64 boys teams in the Under-15 through Under-18 age groups meet to begin the season. The 2011-2012 season saw league standards raised
to new heights with numerous standout performances.
Eastside FC 94 (WA) set a new precedent as they conceded just one goal on the season, coming in the final game after they had secured the division title. OBGC Rangers (MD) set a new season goal tally, netting 22 times, 3.14 goals per game, as they came up just short of a title for the second straight year. The individual goal record was broken twice in 11-12; Raiders FC (IL) forward Alexis Monteon struck 10 times, only to be outdone by CUP Crew Juniors’ (OH-S) Luke Treadway who notched 13 goals to break the previous record of nine, set in 2008-2009.
The Dallas Texans hold the most National League Boys championships by one club with three, but three other clubs are just one championship away and are looking to catch the Texans in 12-13. With two titles to their name, GSA Phoenix (GA) have three teams in this year’s competition and are hoping at least one can bring home the trophy like last year’s U-16’s. Albion SC (CA-S), whose U-18’s are one of only two teams to win more than one National League title, have two chances to claim their third crown with the U-16 and U-18’s. Grand Rapids Crew Juniors have one chance to get their third title, the U-15’s.
National League boys teams claimed three of four National Championships in 11-12 and 17 national qualifiers are among the field in this year’s National League. The league gained two addition spots per age group to the National Championships, meaning four National League representatives will join the four Regional Champions in Overland Park, Kan., July 22-28 at the National Championships. Winning 20 of a possible 30 National Championships through the first five seasons, National League teams enter the season knowing it could be the beginning of a run to the National title.
In 11-12, all 16 divisions in the eight Boys and Girls age groups had to wait until the final weekend in Las Vegas to determine a champion. With each and every team earning their place in the league based on proven success in US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues and the National Championship Series, teams are put to the test in every game. Only those that can consistently perform at the highest level earn the right to move on to compete for the National Championship.
"The US Youth Soccer National League is definitely a great opportunity for our top players on our boys and girls sides to get an opportunity to play against the other top players from across the country. It gives us an opportunity as coaches and directors to push our players to play and compete at the highest level possible. We’ve been in the league for the past couple years now and we’ve definitely enjoyed our experience in the National League," said CUP Crew Juniors Boys’ Director of Coaching Bobby Puppione. "It’s an unbelievably difficult league, but something we relish and definitely enjoy."
CUP Crew Juniors have qualified a team in every boy’s age group in 12-13, and hope to continue the success of the Under-16’s, who claimed the club’s first National League title last year.
"If you’re in the National League, every age group is loaded, It’s kind of the who’s who of last year’s National Championships," said Puppione. "With the U-16’s, the National League gave them a great start last year. The National League gave them that experience and they got a taste of it and saw what this level is like. It’s obviously something we’re shooting for again. Those are going to be some great games to kick off the National League and give our boys an early test to see where we are and how we can move on."