The US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional League (MRL) announced an innovative competition platform within the MRL featuring teams from two Major League Soccer youth clubs and their affiliate premier youth soccer clubs in the Midwest. The Pro Youth Clubs Affiliates Division will be operated under the umbrella of the MRL but will be conducted outside of the current three-tier structure of the league. Only MLS youth clubs and their affiliates are eligible to compete in this new division.
“We are excited to have the Chicago Fire youth academy, Columbus Crew Youth teams and their affiliated youth clubs compete in a unique competition platform in assisting the clubs in their goal of developing players,” said US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional League Commissioner Paul Luchowski. “This initiative allows these two MLS youth clubs and their affiliates to compete in a structured competition that is a supplement to their existing MRL competition.”
“This new platform is an enhancement of our current programming and increases elite level opportunities on the regional level for MLS youth clubs and their affiliates, continuing the evolution of youth soccer in the U.S.,” said John Dorn, the Chicago Fire Director of Player Development. “To have this platform within the structure of the long established, premier regional platform of the Midwest Regional League and US Youth Soccer, with the support of the State Associations, provides prestige and an immediate link to the high level historical roots of youth soccer in the U.S. As the MRL continues its growth, through increasing opportunities in both its expansion and qualification for its premier divisions, it is an honor for the MLS youth clubs and their affiliates to have a level of enhancement as part of the MRL platform. The opportunities in the future that may lie ahead for high level competition and qualification for our clubs are far ranging and will greatly enhance opportunities for development through US Youth Soccer and MLS youth entities.”
The clubs committed to participating in 2013-2014 include the Columbus Crew Youth teams, Grand Rapids Crew Juniors, Challenger (Cleveland) Crew Juniors, Chicago Fire Academy, Chicago Fire Juniors United, Carmel/Indiana Fire Academy, Michigan Fire Juniors, Kentucky Fire Juniors, and a new Wisconsin player development entity associated with the Fire.
“The MRL has been very cooperative in helping establish this new direction and we look forward to continuing to work with them on new initiatives such as this,” said Crew Youth Director of Coaching and Player Development Billy Thompson. “We are very excited about this new platform of competition within the MRL for our Under-12 though Under-18 Girls and Boys teams with the MLS youth clubs and their affiliates. This platform will provide a great opportunity to continue to focus on player development with like-minded clubs in an exclusive environment.”
The Pro division will operate both girls and boys divisions from Under-12 through Under-18. In addition to league play within the division, teams will also take part in showcase events during the Fall and Spring. Under-12 through Under-14 Boys and Girls age groups will play in both the Fall and Spring Seasons. Under-15 through Under-18 Boys will compete in the Spring. Under-15 through Under-18 Girls are expected to compete in an event in mid-November allowing for teams to participate without high school soccer conflicts.
“The Kentucky Fire Juniors are excited to participate in the Pro Youth Club Affiliates program of the US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional League,” said Kentucky Fire Juniors Technical Director/Head Coach Mike Dickey. “The MRL continues to provide meaningful and competitive games and the Pro Division platform of the MRL will be another resource for college and professional scouts in their never ending search for quality soccer players. The Kentucky Fire Juniors will do their best to prepare our players to play an entertaining and attacking style. We are confident that the other MLS youth club affiliates will do the same and that this league will be one that recruiters and scouts have interest in.”
The MRL, with more than 850 teams in 2012-2013, serves as the premier league competition for teams in the Under-13 through Under-18 Boys and Girls age groups in US Youth Soccer Region II and is part of US Youth Soccer’s vertically integrated league competitions from the State Association Leagues to Regional Leagues to the National League.
US Youth Soccer is divided into four regions, Region I (East), Region II (Midwest), Region III (South) and Region IV (West) to assist in national competition. The Midwest Regional League is joined by the Region I Premier League, Region III Southern Regional Premier League and Region IV Far West Regional League as the country’s top regional competitions, with successful teams from each regional league qualifying into the prestigious US Youth Soccer National League.
The MRL also provides an organized and integrated league structure model with teams qualifying for league play through State Association operated competitions, in many cases State Leagues. The MRL also provides teams at its top tier (Premier Divisions) the opportunity to qualify for the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series Region II Championships, as well as automatic slots for Premier I Division champions into the National League.
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.