US Youth Soccer National League Boys Headed to Las Vegas
13 Mar, 2015
The 2014-15 US Youth Soccer National League Boys season will wrap up play March 13-15 at Heritage Park in Henderson, Nev., as 48 teams — representing 19 states and 40 clubs — play their final three games and solidify the division standings. In the Under-15 through Under-18 age groups, each division will be represented by four of the eight teams, while the Under-14 divisions will each feature all eight sides.
Nine of the 10 division championships are still to be decided during the final weekend of National League Boys play, and 15 total teams will secure top-two finishes and punch tickets to the 2015 US Youth Soccer National Championships, held July 21-26 at the Mohawk Soccer Complex in Tulsa, Okla.
Rudy Ybarra’s Under-17 Santa Barbara SC White (CA-S) side is one of the teams vying for a berth to Nationals during play in Las Vegas. After winning back-to-back National titles in 2012 and 2013, Ybarra said his team recognizes the challenge it faces in the National League as it works to return to the top.
“We qualified in the past and for whatever reason we decided not to do it. Now, we see the importance of the National League,” Ybarra said. “It puts you in a situation where the hard work you put in, individually and collectively as unit, allows you to play against the best of the best in the country.
“The level of play in the National League is very good. The competition is the best, without a doubt, that we face all year round. It’s putting us in a situation where we know we have to show up to play, not just every game, but we need to play every moment.”
The National League provides an avenue for teams to play in meaningful matches against top competition from across the country for continued development and opportunities for exposure at the national team, collegiate and professional levels. Through the first two National League Boys events, 775 college coaches have been on hand to watch the action.
In addition to recruiting opportunities, the top two finishers from each division (Blue and Red) will earn a ticket to the 2015 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Tulsa, making each match valuable to the team's fate as it could make or break their chance at competing for the National Championship. The top two finishers in the Under-14, 15, 16 and 17 age groups will also earn an automatic spot in the 2015-16 National League season.
There have already been several impressive showings this season, as 32 of the 80 boys teams finished their 2014-15 campaigns in December at the Disney Soccer Showcase in Orlando, Fla., in front of more than 425 college coaches.
Under-18 FC Dallas 97 Premier (TX-N) became just the fourth boys team in league history to finish a season 7-0-0 on its way to the Under-18 Red Division crown — the lone boys’ division title to be decided thus far.
In addition to FC Dallas, four other teams have clinched at least a second place finish and qualified for Nationals — Under-18 CUP Gold 96/97 (OH-S), Under-17 Arlington Impact Red (VA), Under-16 SDFC Rangers (NJ) and Under-15 South Carolina United FC 99 Elite (SC).
South Carolina United’s Grayson Barber posted 12 goals, which is currently the second-most ever in a single National League season. Barber’s mark was one goal off of the record, held by CUP Gold 96/97’s Luke Treadway, who posted seven tallies this year to finish his National League career with 32 goals.
While the season is over for some, many of the 48 teams with games remaining still have a lot to play for heading into the final weekend. Several games will feature two teams that each have a shot at punching a ticket to Nationals, making for an exciting three days of action. Ybarra said the competition brings the best out of the players, and his team is looking forward to the test ahead.
“These final three games are going to be very difficult. We know the opponents a little bit. In fact, one of them knocked us out at Nationals last year in the semifinal,” he said. “We know what we’re up against. We need to show up to play these three games. We need to play every half, every moment, every minute.
“The teams we’re playing against are all capable of beating everybody. You just can’t show up and say, ‘I’m favored to win these three games.’ No way. I look at every team there being able to take a point or three points in any game. It’s a huge challenge for us.”
About the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer) – US Youth Soccer - "The Game for ALL Kids!" is the largest youth sports organization in the country and largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer registers more than 3 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, and over 900,000 administrators, coaches and volunteers in 55 member State Associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game. For more information, visit www.USYouthSoccer.org.
About US Youth Soccer National League - Formed in 2007, the US Youth Soccer National League was developed as a path of advancement for the top teams from the US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues. In addition to meaningful matches, development and identification, the league created a direct path to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships. League play features the Under-14 through Under-18 age groups for boys and girls who are seeking to advance their college, professional and U.S. National Team aspirations. Learn more at USYouthSoccer.org/National_League/.