FRISCO, Texas (Feb. 23, 2016) — The US Youth Soccer National League has determined the qualification parameters that will go into effect for the league’s expansion in the 2016-17 season — when the Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 age groups double from 16 to 32 teams each.
The expansion, which was announced in May 2015, will further strengthen the relationship between the National League and US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (Region I Champions League, Midwest Regional League, Southern Premier League and Far West Regional League). In the expanding age groups, twice as many Regional League teams can earn qualification into the prestigious National League — doubling from two to four automatic berths per Regional League.
Additional allocation spots come from National League and US Youth Soccer National Championship Series competition. The top four teams in the Blue and Red Divisions of the 2015-16 National League Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17 age groups will earn their place in the league for the 2016-17 season. At US Youth Soccer Regional Championships, both the Regional Champion and finalist in those age groups will earn an automatic berth into the National League for the following seasonal year. The National League will continue to include five total age groups, with the Under-15 and Under-19 gender age groups continuing with 16 teams each.
Click here [pdf] to view the full list of allocation slots for the 2016-17 National League season.
Teams applying for the 2016-17 National League season must have competed in the 2015-16 US Youth Soccer National Championship Series competition and must have on their 2016-17 team roster no fewer than nine US Youth Soccer registered players that were on that team’s 2015-16 roster or from within a 2015-16 team roster from within their club. The National League application period opens around June 8 and closes on July 7.
To clarify the age group adjustment forced by the U.S. Soccer birth-year registration mandate, the following chart illustrates the transition from the 2015-16 season to the 2016-17 season for qualifying teams.
|2015-16 Qualifying Age Groups
||2016-17 National League Age Groups
||late 2002-early 2003
||primarily 7th graders
||8th and freshmen
||late 2001-early 2002
||primarily 8th graders
||late 2000-early 2001
||late 1999-early 2000
||late 1998-early 1999
The league’s qualification format provides teams with an opportunity to test themselves against some of the most talented competition in the country, as each team has to earn its place in the National League based on league or cup success. With meaningful matchups against proven competition from across the country, the National League provides an avenue for continued development and opportunities for exposure at the collegiate, professional and National Team levels.
In addition to recruiting opportunities, the top National League teams earn a ticket to the US Youth Soccer National Championships, making each match valuable and creating an added element of pressure as players compete for a chance to play for the National Championship. Each National League gender age group qualifies four teams to the National Championships, giving the league 40 representatives each year at Nationals.
Beginning in the 2016-17 season, the Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 gender age groups will be split into four divisions of eight teams, with the top finisher in each division earning an automatic berth to the National Championships. The National League’s automatic qualifiers will retain the current structure for the Under-15 and Under-19 age groups, with the top two teams from each of the two divisions advancing to the National Championship.
Since its inception, National League teams have captured a combined 31 of 48 possible National Championships. For a list of past National League champions and history, click here.
Now in its ninth season, the National League’s alumni have gone on to prove themselves at the collegiate and professional levels, with former players competing in NCAA Division I, II and III, Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
Adding to the most recent National League accolades, National League alum Morgan Brian won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team and this January, National League alumni were selected with the No. 1 overall pick in both the 2016 MLS SuperDraft [Jack Harrison – Manhattan SC PSG (NY-E)] and the 2016 NWSL Draft [Emily Sonnett – NASA Elite (GA)].
The National League is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Region I Champions League, Midwest Regional League, Southern Regional Premier League and Far West Regional League). For more information on the National League and Regional Leagues, visit USYouthSoccer.org/National_League/.