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ECNL May 07, 2023

ECNL Boys Regional Leagues added in Chicago and Northern California

The ECNL Boys announced the formation of two new ECNL Regional Leagues, as well as the addition of multiple new clubs across the country for the 2023-24 season.

This fall will mark the inaugural season for the ECNL Boys Regional League – Chicago Metro, a first-team platform operating in parallel to the recently-announced ECNL Boys Regional League – Midwest.  Additionally, a new North Division of the ECNL Boys Regional League – Heartland will begin in the middle of America, and a major new pathway will be created in California through the establishment of the ECNL Boys Regional League – NorCal.

ECNL Regional League – Chicago Metro

The ECNL Regional League Chicago Metro is being formed with five clubs eyeing a pathway toward consideration for ECNL Boys in the future. The league will initially include clubs in Indiana and Illinois, but will expand rapidly.

The first teams from Chicago City SC, Chicago Inter, FC 1974 Libertyville, FORCE, and Hoosier FC will launch the ECNL Regional League Chicago Metro with additional clubs to be announced in the coming weeks.

Each of these clubs has seen a great deal of success on the field in recent years. Chicago City SC is the only USL Academy in the state of Illinois and saw five players debut in USL League Two last season. 1974 Libertyville’s 2005 Boys were the 2022 US Youth Soccer National Champions, while their 2006 Boys were the 2022 Elite Academy League Mid-America Champions. Hoosier FC sent six of their teams to the Indiana State Cup Final Four last season with their 2009 team boasting back-to-back State Cup titles in 2021 and 2022.

The addition of these teams further contributes to the ECNL’s growing presence within the Midwest, as the league recently announced the formation of the ECNL Regional League – Midwest.

ECNL Regional League – Heartland North Division

The ECNL Regional League – Heartland North Division will serve the deep player pools of existing ECNL clubs Sporting Nebraska, Gretna Elite Academy, Sporting Iowa, and VSA, while also welcoming both Sting-Nebraska (NE) and FC United (IA) as top performing clubs from US Club Soccer’s Central States NPL. The six clubs will make up a new North Division of the Heartland Regional League, matching up with the South Division which has operated since 2021 within Missouri and Kansas.

ECNL Regional League – Heartland South Division

Kansas Rush will join the ECNL Regional League – Heartland South Division for the 2023-24 season. Kansas Rush qualified four teams to the Elite Academy League Nationals in 2022, while also qualifying their 2006 boys team for the 2022 US Youth Soccer Regional Championships in Indiana.

The ECNL Regional League – Heartland sits under the ECNL Heartland Conference. Two clubs, KC Athletics and Sporting Springfield, successfully moved from the ECNL Regional League – Heartland to the Heartland Conference for the 2022-23 season, demonstrating the ECNL pathway.

ECNL Regional League – NorCal 

Building upon a successful relationship between ECNL and NorCal Premier which has seen continued growth in the competitive level of both leagues, the ECNL and NorCal Premier will now launch a new ECNL Boys Regional League for the 2023-24 season.  The newly-formed Regional League will be the top level of NorCal Premier, supported by multiple divisions of competition below it with promotion opportunities.  This will create a unified pyramid for both boys and girls youth soccer players, teams, and clubs across Northern California from U13 – U18/19.

As a continuation of the growing partnership between ECNL and NorCal Premier, top performing ECNL Regional League teams will also be welcomed into select ECNL National Events, providing showcase opportunities in front of hundreds of college and professional scouts. Additional information regarding the specific structure of the ECNL Regional League – NorCal, including participating teams for its inaugural season, will be announced in the near future.

More Additions to Existing ECNL Regional Leagues

The ECNL is also announcing the addition of Baltimore Celtic and Lehigh Valley United to the ECNL Regional League – Northeast, and South Carolina Surf to the ECNL Regional League – Southeast.

Beyond the local and regional competition and college showcasing available in the ECNL Regional League, clubs also have a potential pathway to the ECNL Club Competition in the future, by way of demonstrated success on the field, top-level hosting standards, and proven operational excellence.