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Youth Boys Apr 17, 2014

Club Champions League: We won’t be affected by rise of Virginia NPL

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The recent announcement of a new statewide youth league in Virginia has raised questions about how it may affect the Club Champions League (CCL), an existing entity which also attracts top clubs from across the Commonwealth.

US Club Soccer announced the creation of the Virginia National Premier League (NPL) announced last week that it will begin league play in the fall with 11 clubs, including Annandale United Football Club and the Arlington Soccer Association, whose teams are also part of the CCL.

CCL rules require that its clubs register its top teams, and league president Dave Amsler says both Annandale and Arlington will field its top teams in the CCL.

“The establishment of the new Virginia NPL doesn’t affect CCL,” he told SoccerWire.com. “CCL clubs that are also members of the new NPL will continue to place their top teams in the CCL, per league regulations.

“Does the [formation of the NPL] pose questions? Yes. People don’t understand what it is all about. There is some fear that it is scarier than it should be.”

What constitutes a club’s top team is open to interpretation. In the CCL, clubs are responsible for determining their top teams. Annandale’s Knights won the Under-18 boys Virginia State Cup in 2012 but Bo Amato, Annandale’s technical director, placed another U-18 team that lost in a State Cup semifinal in the CCL the following spring.

And similar to other area leagues, a club can switch up to five players from teams each week, meaning the same players can play in the CCL one week and NPL the following week.

Amato stressed that he chose to be part of both leagues because it helps his player’s development. “Both leagues provide great competition,” he said.

Both the CCL and the NPL allow the clubs to schedule its games, an advantage over other leagues. Amato likes that the CCL does not promote or relegate teams, letting coaches stress player development.

“It’s great to have a competitive game where the result does not mean the end of the world,” he said.

But unlike the CCL, the NPL offers a chance to play for a national championship. The NPL Finals event, organized by US Club Soccer, crowns national champions from U-13 to U-18 teams.

Chris-Baer,-US-Club“We’re trying to help reward the local players with a direct path to getting to higher level national championships,” said NPL general manager Chris Baer. “We felt that’s one of the key things they are getting that’s value added to the league experience.”

It appears the CCL was not weighing heaving on the minds of NPL management when they were developing the Virginia league. NPL membership services representative Kevin McGovern says the CCL was not discussed with clubs when they formed the Virginia league.

“I never heard anybody speak about the CCL,” he said. “We think this is an area that NPL could be a great option.”

The CCL enforces top team participation in its league, which is comprised of U-11 to U-18 teams. As an example, Amsler said that Prince William Soccer, Inc. “professionally removed itself” from the CCL when it recently announced that it would place its top U-13/14 teams in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. PWSI will drop its CCL affiliation at the end of the current spring season.

McLean Youth Soccer is taking PWSI’s place and will begin league play during the 2014-15 season. And there may be more. Without naming them, Amsler added that a few clubs have asked to join the CCL. The league – once called the Virginia Club Champions League – has 16 clubs, including one from Washington, D.C. and three from Maryland.

“They may want to move forward with us or not,” Amsler said. “But we don’t think [the NPL] will put a dent in our league. The NPL offers a viable alternative. We wish the NPL success in their new venture. Sometimes it’s better to let these things play out and people will find out for themselves what’s best.”

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