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Youth Boys Sep 04, 2015

Third season underway for new-look Club Champions League

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Sixteen clubs in the Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. area have kicked off the Club Champions League (CCL) 2015-2016 season, the league’s third campaign since taking its current form in 2013.

Following a one-week hiatus for the tournament heavy Labor Day weekend, the club-centric league will begin its second week of the new season on Sunday, September 13 as clubs prepare to travel for or host an entire slate of boys and girls games from all age groups. CCL clubs travel as a whole, with the various age groups and both genders playing the same opponent on the same day. This helps simplify logistics for coaching staff and families, in addition to building club unity.

“It’s great for club building,” CCL Executive Director Brian Kuk said of the league’s scheduling approach. “Teams can watch each other play, families and friends can watch each other play. Younger kids can watch the older kids, and older kids can watch the younger kids. It’s fantastic in terms of creating a festive environment.”

The idea of treating clubs as cohesive units extends throughout the competition. The league maintains overall standings for clubs based on the performance of their constituent teams ranging from the U-11 to U-18/19 levels. Overall boys and girls standings are also recorded, and the league awards the Dave Amsler Overall Club Champion trophy to the club that performs best across the age levels and both genders.

Loudoun Soccer Club has won the last two overall club championships and will look to win a third straight this season. It won both the girls and boys titles at the U-16 level, finished second overall in the girls half of the standings and third on the boys side. Loudoun teams finished the opening weekend of the 2015-16 season with a 23-7-2 record, catapulting the club to first place in the standings.

In an early second place, with eight games in hand, stands Beach FC with a 20-1-3 record. Beach FC missed the overall club title by just 13 points over the course of 240 games last season, but took home first on the girls’ side of the standings with an 82-19-19 record across all age levels, earning the Peggy Borgard Overall Girls Champion trophy.

Arlington Soccer Association took third last season with an overall record of 136-68-36 but captured the boys’ championship ahead of Loudoun SC. 2014 was the second year in a row that Arlington won the boys’ championship. Two of its boys’ teams, the U-12s and U-15s, won their respective age groups last season. It currently sits in third place once again, 13 points behind the top spot.

The CCL is also implementing a number of changes entering the 2015 season. For the first time, the CCL will include a second team pathway known as CCL II. Clubs can now field an ‘A’ team and a ‘B’ team within one age group, allowing players more fluid movement across age groups and levels along with a more cohesive training approach.

The first season of CCL II includes 12 Northern Virginia and Maryland clubs, one of which – Ellicott City SC – is not also a full CCL member. Ellicott City is the first to be accepted via the league’s stringent application process, but will not be the only non-CCL member to join the second team platform. Expansion outside the greater Washington, D.C. area is expected in future seasons.

“CCL II presents a key developmental pathway for the clubs because it brings in more players, families and coaches underneath the CCL model,” Kuk said.

In addition to a second tier of teams, a new club will enter the league in the upcoming season. The newcomers, Lee Mount Vernon Sports Club, will join as a full member of the top tier and attempt to challenge for the club championship. Operating from Fairfax, Va., Lee Mount Vernon SC will also participate in the inaugural season of CCL II.

“Lee Mount Vernon SC is a fantastic addition. [LMVSC Technical Director] Esteban Maldonado did an outstanding job through the eight-month application process,” Kuk said. “We’re excited to have them as a part of things.”

Lee Mount Vernon SC will face a number of new challenges as it begins playing in the CCL. First and foremost will be the quality of competition. Five CCL teams made the 2014 US Youth Soccer national championships. Two teams, Loudoun 98 Red and Arlington Impact Red, won their groups and made it to the semifinals. Arlington Impact Red made it to the final and finished as runners up.

In addition to the five US Youth Soccer National Championships qualifiers last season, CCL teams captured 13 State Cup titles in Maryland and Virginia. A total of 15 teams qualified for the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships, two of which – McLean 00 Green (U-14 Boys) and FC Frederick 01 (U-13 Girls) – won it all. Two CCL sides – Arlington Eagles Red (U-15 Boys), Loudoun 98 Red (U-16 Boys) were runners up in the US Youth Soccer National League, and one team – Arlington Impact Red – won the National League U-17 Boys Blue Division title.

According to Kuk, the league’s quality of play and level of preparation made this success on the national stage possible.

“The competitive environment and the meaningful matches that all of our clubs play on a week-to-week basis in league play only prepares them for those types of competitions. They’re not surprised by playing a quality opponent,” he said.

Also on tap for the 2015-16 season, the league will once again host its two annual college showcases, slated for December 11-13 and February 5-7 at River City Sportsplex in Midlothian, Virginia. The first of three ScrimmageFest events for U-9 and U-10 teams was recently hosted by FC Frederick.

+Full 2015-16 CCL Schedule


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