CSL vs SCDSL- Playing Both Sides

3d image of classic soccer field with ball

Update 2017- CSL and SCDSL are still going strong but for the U14 and above So Cal girls there will be 13 Development Academy teams not playing in either league in addition to 7 ECNL teams.  I’m interested to see the impact this will have on CSL and SCDSL.   For more information about the Development Academy please see my post- Development Academy- Counting the Cost.

This year my girls are playing in two different Southern California leagues.  My BSG’s club decided to return to Coast Soccer League (CSL) and LSG’s club remains in SCDSL (Southern California Developmental Soccer League).  After having both girls in SCDSL for two years it’s been interesting to compare the different leagues this year.

For earlier thoughts on the leagues read SCDSL- Second Thoughts from last year, SCDSL- First Thoughts from 2012 and So Cal Smackdown about several different leagues.  Please know that these are only my opinions and are based on my personal experiences.  

Although I wish there was only one league as in the past, the formation of the SCDSL has encouraged some great changes in CSL that are included in the information below.  Overall I think both leagues are great places for my girls to play.

Organization/ League Administration

CSL- Coast is organized and runs like a well-oiled machine. (Although some may say a dictatorship…) Their rules are strict, but fairness and consistency seems to be a priority. Although they have a great new website, score reporting is still done by email and is often very slow to be updated by the scorekeeper.  This can be frustrating! The CSL app, on the other hand, is very useful and a great tool.  It would be really nice if scores could be entered through the app.

SCDSL- SCDSL is also well organized, but the addition of so many clubs has made it not as friendly as in the earlier years.  Their score reporting is quick to report and update using the “Phone it in” app.  Their website is pretty limited, but has all the necessary information available.  There is no app that I know of for league scores etc… Some of the things that were initially talked about during their formation (no away games before 9am, limited Sunday games, less travel) have now gone away by necessity due to the huge growth of the league.

Level of Competition

This is an interesting area that really depends on your child’s age and gender.  Since I only have girls, I can only speak for the girls’ side.  From U8-U13 you can’t beat the level of competition in SDSCL.  Most of the top clubs play there and great teams battle it out weekly.  From U14-U18 things change as ECNL kicks in and the top teams from the ECNL clubs do not play in the SCDSL for the most part.  Starting at U14, CSL Premier brackets have very good competition, but are also missing the ECNL teams.

I have heard that CSL is more competitive for the boys side, but I don’t know if that is accurate.


Here’s the definite difference…

CSL- Teams are bracketed by Coast into Bronze, Silver, Silver Elite, Gold or Premier and can be promoted or relegated based on last year’s results.  Teams request brackets upon application, but Coast makes the final decision.  Brackets typically consist of 8 teams and each team plays each other home and away.  Winners are declared and receive medals at the end.

SCDSL- Teams are bracketed into Tiers 1, 2 or 3 by Club DOCs and there is no relegation or promotion based on results.  Brackets are varied and you may play some teams once, others twice and some not at all.  A winner is declared at the end, but it doesn’t really seem fair when all teams don’t have the same schedule.  Lately though there has been a lot of discussion about “tiers within tiers” and that teams are not always put where requested.  This will be interesting to watch in the future.

Something that may become an issue for teams is that “Got Soccer” the soccer ranking website awards points for CSL league play but not for SCDSL.  I’ve heard that the reason for this is because they don’t deem the SCDSL a competitive league and there is no “winner.”  This isn’t really an issue for big clubs, but for those little clubs who are trying to get a team into a big tournament, Got Soccer points can be very important.

Player Pass

CSL- This is new for CSL in the last few years.  Teams are allowed to club pass players of the appropriate age, but only if they are from a lower bracket team.  This ensures that players from the first team are not brought down to the second team just to secure a win, but it also doesn’t let a first team player get additional play time if they are riding the bench on their own team.

SCDSL- SCDSL continues their player pass rules of any age appropriate player being able to play on any other team in the club as long as they only play one game per day.  This can lead to Tier One players being brought down to help a Tier Two or Three team win, but it can also help greatly if there are injuries or if a player isn’t getting enough play time on their own team.  There is also a new rule that keepers may play more than one game a day as long as they play one game in goal only.  

League Cup/Showcase

CSL- Coast has its League Cup which is included as a part of league fees for all teams. It’s similar to a State Cup format where any team has the chance to be the Cinderella.  Higher level teams are exempt from Pool Play where the Bronze and Silver teams battle it out to advance to the knock out rounds.  It’s a pretty awesome tournament, and a great way to see how your team measures up to teams in higher brackets.

SCDSL- SCDSL continues with its Showcases- days where teams from opposite divisions at similar standings are matched up and play two friendly games.  These games do not count in the standings but I’m sure the kids don’t care- they are just as competitive!  I personally really enjoy Showcase Days because it’s a fun opportunity to see friends from other teams and watch many great games at one venue.  Other people I’ve talked to think they are a waste of time, but I disagree.  This year teams only have one Showcase date which is down from two in past years and it is only for teams U13 and younger.


CSL- For the lower brackets, teams are geographically placed but there can still be some driving involved.  Gold and Premier level teams especially can travel long distances.  Having teams play each other home and away helps ensure fair travel for all.  The lower brackets (Bronze and Silver) seem to have limited travel, but I’m sure there are exceptions.

SCDSL- With the addition of so many new clubs from Bakersfield to San Diego, teams can possibly travel long distances- especially in the lower Tiers.  But, if you live in Orange County you can’t beat the SCDSL- most games are local for the younger age groups.

Overall Thoughts…

If I had my way, everyone would go back to being in one league and take the positives from both leagues…  I don’t see that happening any time soon, so I will enjoy the good parts of both leagues through each of my girls.  They’ve both been having a great year and we are very fortunate to have access to so many different choices.



6 thoughts on “CSL vs SCDSL- Playing Both Sides

  1. Great comparison! As a mom of both a boy and girl I’ve seen both sides of both leagues now. So far CSL for my son has been more competitive play but they do allow for higher levels on the boy side sooner than on the girls. There are only two brackets for GU8 which has meant for lots of travel where the boys U8 has eight brackets. I agree though one league would be great!

    1. I forgot about the differences between boys and girls at the younger ages with CSL. Hmmm…sounds like a change is needed there! Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. You Rock! This is the second post I’ve read from you. Thanks so much for the guidance! I’m certainly still a newbie to the club soccer scene and now checking out clubs w/CSL is quite a challenge. My son had a phenomenal soccer year (2014) with a SCDSL team. Over the summer our original team disbanded after our beloved coach took the entire team w/him to another club. Disappointed w/that move and a few other details we had to leave too. Do you have any recommendations for boys clubs in the CSL (BU11) bracket? And, do you know someone you would recommend for personal coaching sessions? Please feel free to get back to me via my email. Again, thanks so much for starting this blog and keeping up with it all! You are awesome! : D

    1. Hi Adriana- Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I don’t know a lot about boys teams, but I emailed you 🙂

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