California Regional League- Another New League ?!?

Ok, I can’t keep up!  Another new youth soccer league is coming our way- the California Regional League.

The California Regional League is a division of the US Youth Soccer Far West Regional League, which consists of the fourteen (14) western state associations. The US Youth Soccer Region IV Council recently voted to restructure the league into localized divisions to reduce costs, eliminate excessive travel and foster better competition.

The Far West Regional League will be divided into three divisions comprised of 1) the California Division: Cal South and Cal North; 2) the Four Corners Division: New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Southern Nevada; and 3) the Northern Division: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Hawaii, Alaska and Northern Nevada. The California Division will receive two placements in the US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships. The Four Corners Division and Northern Division will each receive one position.

There are significant benefits for Cal South teams playing in California Regional League. They will face top competition, playing the best clubs and teams within each age group in the state of California. With state-based play, there is less travel and lower costs to the players and parents. League play will be in Southern California. Travel will be local with one showcase event in Northern California and one showcase in Southern California. Teams in the California Regional League are playing for placement in the US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships and qualification to the US Youth Soccer National League. The league play and showcases will mean greater exposure to U.S. Soccer National Team staff, top college coaches, Region IV ODP staff and Cal South Pro+ scouts at the two annual showcase events.

Obviously this is a challenge to the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL)  and I think the most important phrase is “with state based play, there is less travel and lower costs to the players and parents.”  If you aren’t familiar with ECNL please read my post So Cal Smackdown about the different leagues.  Currently ECNL is the “it” thing to participate in if you think your daughter is college scholarship material and you want her to be “seen.”  The trouble is that the ECNL teams have to travel across the country, when there are often equally skilled opponents in their own sunny Californian backyard.  I don’t have any personal experience with this (my girls are too young and neither of their clubs is ECNL) but I can imagine that it could be frustrating to spend that extra time and money if you could play closer to home.  Not only is traveling expensive, missed time from school, family and friends is a factor.

All teams qualify at their respective State Association level [for the California Regional League]

Cal South U12-U14 teams qualify as follows:

• The eight quarterfinalists in Cal South National Cup earn eligibility. For U12, this is the U11 bracket in the Sports Authority State Cup Presidents Division. 
• The eight teams defeated in the round of 16 in Cal South National Cup earn an invitation to play in for the final four league slots. For U12, this is the U11 bracket in the Sports Authority State Cup Presidents Division. 
• Four teams will be selected by the California Regional League Advisory Group as at-large candidates invited to play in for the final four league slots. 
• At the August Showcase, the twelve play-in teams will be placed in four brackets of three teams each by blind draw. The four winners of round-robin bracket play will move into the final four league slots.

The qualification is the part that I think is great and will set this league apart- it’s a team based qualification rather than club based.  I really like the idea of teams gaining exposure through merit and results rather than just the uniform that the girls wear.  This would allow a great team from a non ECNL club to get potential big time exposure.

Will CRL be successful?  Will it give girls other choices than ECNL?  Will it stop the world domination and consolidation of the ECNL super clubs?  (Hee-Hee)  I have no idea, but being the brainchild of Cal South, Cal North and US Soccer definitely bodes well for this fledgling league.

Update 2017- CRL has been very successful and is a great option for top teams who are not ECNL.  There has been a lot of grumbling about last minute schedule changes and far flung locales, but overall I think it has been well received.  The creation of the DA will now take more top teams out of CRL, but there will still be plenty of teams eager to participate.