US Club Soccer NPL 2017-2018 Season Preview: West Region
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Via US Club Soccer) – The US Club Soccer National Premier Leagues enters its sixth season with 21 leagues, about 300 clubs and nearly 2,000 teams. And while the expansive platform has settled into a niche of quality, consistent programming, the NPL also welcomes change that is facilitating new growth.
Member leagues continue to be led by club-driven models, with US Club Soccer initiatives like Players First, id² and PDP providing necessary support. The newest addition to the landscape is the Elite National Premier League (ENPL), which serves as the top spot for boys competition. The ENPL is a collaboration between US Club Soccer and the ECNL to create a competitive platform for 14-U through 18/19-U boys age groups.
Sixteen qualifying competitions – consisting of NPLs and Boys ECNL Conferences – are now working towards ENPL qualification on the boys side of the brackets. For NPL teams, that results in a modified NPL Finals structure in 2018. While the girls are still positioning towards an NPL Finals run, boys teams are divided among multiple events.
ENPL-qualifying NPL teams have three playoff opportunities depending on age group:
- 14-U teams advance to the National Cup XVII Finals
- 15-U, 16-U and 17-U teams advance to either the ENPL Eastern Playoffs or the ENPL Western Playoffs
- 19-U teams advance to the ENPL 19-U National Championship
Six NPLs do not have ENPL qualifying status, though, so their postseason opportunities are different. Those leagues are Central States NPL, Great Lakes Alliance, Gulf States Premier League, Red River NPL, Southern California NPL and Washington NPL.
- 13-U and 14-U teams advance to the National Cup XVII Finals
- 15-U, 16-U and 17-U teams advance to the Boys Eastern NPL Finals or the Boys Western NPL Finals
- 19-U teams advance to the Boys 19-U NPL Finals
Here are the four NPLs in the West region:
As the top level of one of the largest youth soccer organizations in the nation, overseeing 223 clubs in Northern California, the NPL division of NorCal Premier Soccer is home to a number of the state’s elite youth players.
NorCal NPL demonstrated this high level of competition in the 2017 NPL Finals by yielding the 2002 girls national champions, FC Elk Grove, which went undefeated and only allowed one goal through five matches. The league also produced two other NPL Finals entrants last season.
While 2017-18 league play is already underway, the NorCal NPL season has been impacted by the wildfires that have devastated many areas of Northern California. Not only has play been disrupted due to physical damages, but the community is still facing the emotional repercussions. NorCal Premier Soccer has just reached the halfway mark of its donation goal to aid the affected soccer families across the region.
In 2017-18, NorCal NPL will continue to regularly host PDPs across all age groups.
As the NPL West’s inaugural season inches closer, the hype grows with it. Eight Development Academy clubs will now field NPL level teams for 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001 boys age groups.
Based in Southern California, the NPL West is an ENPL qualifying league, so qualifying teams from all age groups will compete in the ENPL Western Playoffs.
The first-ever league play in the NPL West will kick off in mid-March.
Southern California NPL:
A founding member of US Club Soccer NPLs, the Southern California NPL prepares for its preseason with a reigning national champion. Las Vegas Soccer Academy’s 2003 boys team cruised through the Finals undefeated, including impressive 5-0 wins in each of its knockout-round matches.
Operated by the Coast Soccer League, Southern California NPL will release its schedule in early February 2018, with play beginning the first week of March.
The Southern California NPL boys teams have will have a few different playoff paths. The 13-U and 14-U qualify for the National Cup XVII Finals, while the 15-U, 16-U, and 17-U teams will play in the NPL Western Finals. The 19-U boys teams will advance to the 19-U NPL Finals in Massachusetts.
Formerly known as the Washington State Premier League, the Washington NPL is comprised of 19 clubs with 11-U through 18/19-U age groups. The league’s operator, the Puget Sound Premier League, has emerged as the fastest-growing league in Washington.
In 2017-18, the Washington NPL will look to build on last year’s postseason run, which saw the league provide four teams to the 2017 NPL Finals. The boys teams will join the Southern California NPL in their postseason run as both leagues have the same playoff paths.
US Club Soccer is planning a LaLiga Formation Methodology course in the Pacific Northwest for 2018.