US Youth Soccer National League Boys Qualification Concludes
US Youth Soccer National League came to a close for the boys side over the weekend as top talent booked their ticket to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships. National League action continues Friday, March 17, as 64 girls teams kick off their final weekend of league play in Las Vegas.
Youth Soccer News: The US Youth Soccer National League U15-U19/20 Boys resumed league play over the weekend at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada, alongside the 2017 Players College Showcase.
The boys entered the final weekend of their season with 17 berths to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships still to be clinched. Teams qualified for the National Championships by winning their division (U16, U17 and U18 age groups) or by finishing in the top two of their division (U15 and U19/20 age groups). The top finishers in the U15, U16 and U17 age groups also secured a spot in the league for next season.
No teams were able to secure berths to Nationals on Friday — leaving 17 spots to the National Championships and 14 division titles to be decided over the weekend.
Sporting STL – McMahon Ford (MO) was one team that used a win on Friday to claim a position to capture a division title. Sitting just a win away from first place in the U18 Blue Division, Sporting STL coach Pete Collico knew the unique opportunity they had to potentially clinch a berth to Nationals through the National League.
“There are thousands of kids who never get this opportunity,” Collico said. “You really have to cherish the moment because it’s only going to come every so often or maybe never.”
The intensity and meaning behind each match welcomes college coaches to the National League each season. One college coach who is particularly familiar with the league is Cornell assistant coach Drew Hutchins, who competed as a player in the National League’s first season with the YMS Xplosion (PA-E).
Hutchins said the National League provides players with the chance to compete against different styles of play while also showcasing their talent.
“It’s still a battle. When I’m going around watching other games, certain showcase tournaments, sometimes you don’t see that competitive edge as much anymore,” Hutchins said. “You definitely see it in the National League. As a coach, we need to see kids in that environment to get a true evaluation.”
After no berths were determined Friday, nine teams secured their ticket to Frisco, Texas, on Saturday — with seven of those sides clinching division titles.
CUP 99 Gold (OH-S) was one of the teams to punch its ticket to the National Championships on Saturday, as its defense conceded just one goal through six U18 White Division matches. CUP captured the division with another clean sheet on Saturday and an 88th-minute winner from Cody Busam.
“The National League was been a wonderful event and a goal of the team’s to see what they can do here,” CUP coach Scott Rodgers said. “To get the title in that kind of fashion — late in the game — was a tribute to them and the team we played against.
In the U17 age group, Raiders FC (IL) clinched its second straight Red Division title, while a hat trick from Noah Brumels of Midwest United FC 02 Royal (MI) set a new individual single-season goal-scoring record with 15 for the U15 age group.
The 2016-17 season was an exciting one for the boys, as six division titles were decided on the final day of play. With so much on the line, games in Las Vegas carried significant meaning toward the outcome of the season.
Eight total teams secured a berth to the 2017 National Championships on Sunday. Among the sides that celebrated a ticket to Frisco, Texas, was Boca Juniors OC 02 White (CA-S), which came out victorious in a must-win UU5 Blue Division matchup on Sunday. Boca needed and earned three wins in as many games in Vegas, and coach Jimmy Obleda — a two-time National Champion — emphasized the significance of winning his first National League division title.
“This one is extra sweet. The other teams have won the National Championship, but this league is amazing — the competition, quality, environment, everything,” Obleda said. “Because this is our first year in the National League with this team, we told our parents, ‘It’s going to be like nothing you’ve experienced before.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, U17 Raiders FC (IL) made National League history by becoming the first club to put together back-to-back 7-0-0 seasons. The Illinois side was the lone boys team to finish the 2016-17 campaign with no losses or ties. Raiders FC was also one of just two clubs to claim multiple division titles, along with CUP (OH-S).
2017 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers via the National League
Blue Champion: Boca Juniors OC 02 White (CA-S)*
Blue Runner-up: Solar Chelsea Red 02 Stricker (TX-N)
Red Champion: Midwest United FC 02 Royal (MI)
Red Runner-up: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Elite (MO)*
*qualified on Sunday