Beginning in the 2018-19 season, the US Youth Soccer National League will expand to feature the addition of a 19-and-Under age group, as well as more teams in the 14U and 15U age groups — pushing the league from 256 to 352 total teams.
The National League has traditionally included competition for 14U-18U teams. The new 19U age group will include 16 teams per gender and will provide players primarily in their final year of high school an opportunity to compete at the highest level of youth soccer.
Meanwhile, the 14U and 15U age groups will double in size, as the field of teams for each gender will grow from 16 to 32 in those age groups — matching the number of teams currently featured in the 16U-18U National League age groups.
The 14U-18U age groups will feature four divisions of eight teams, while the 19U age group will include two divisions of eight teams.
The expansion further strengthens the connection between the various leagues of US Youth Soccer, which will be revamped, redesigned and relaunched for the 2018-19 seasonal year.
“Increased consistency across regional competitions at the younger age groups has allowed us to add more deserving teams to the league in the 14U and 15U divisions,” National League commissioner Paul Luchowski said. “Along with the addition of the 19U age group, we look forward to welcoming even more proven, top-level teams to the National League.”
As is the case with each of the National League age groups, the top two 19U teams in each division will earn a place at the US Youth Soccer National Championships. There, they will join the traditional four US Youth Soccer Regional Champions to increase the field of teams to eight in the 19U boys and girls competition.
Since its inception, National League teams have captured a combined 56 of 78 possible National Championships. For a list of past National League champions and history, click here.
The 2017-18 National League season, which features 14U-18U teams, will kick off Nov. 30 with the opening weekend for the girls, while the boys begin Dec. 7. All games will take place in Wilson, N.C., and Rocky Mount, N.C.
The National League is designed to reward teams for developing elite talent and earning success in US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues and Regional Championships, as the top finishing teams in these competitions directly qualify for the National League. Once in the National League, the top teams from each age group division also secure a spot to return to National League play the following season.
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.
The National League is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (Eastern Regional League, Midwest Regional League, Southern Regional Premier League and Far West Regional League). 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.