ECNL and EGSL- What’s the Deal?

ecnlegslDisclaimer- I am no expert and do not have any personal experience- this is just a synopsis of what I’ve read and researched…and my opinions.  Please make sure you do your own research!  I’d love for people with daughters currently playing in the ECNL to comment.

The question that I’ve heard over and over again during the last few months is “What is  ECNL and EGSL and what’s the difference?”  Here’s the details…


ECNL stands for “Elite Clubs National League” and the goal of the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) is to change the landscape for elite female soccer players in the United States through innovative, player-centered programming and to enhance the overall experience by creating a better, more enjoyable, and more successful player, coach, and club development model.  (quoted from the ECNL website)

The ECNL began in 2009 with 40 clubs participating and now in 2014 has 76 clubs with official competition starting at u14.  Clubs are grouped into seven geographic conferences with conference results determining qualification for a ECNL post season.  Only three new clubs were accepted in 2013 and it doesn’t appear that the ECNL will expand at a rapid rate.  No new So Cal clubs have been accepted- it’s still only Eagles, Real So Cal, Slammers, Strikers, West Coast, Blues, Arsenal and Surf.

ECNL Players participate in about 15-18 Conference/Cross-conference games, 5 National Showcase Events, and the National Championship Games in August.  Although some So Cal teams still play a few games in the SCDSL, the primary focus for these teams is the ECNL Conference. In addition to the competition platform, the ECNL also runs a Player Identification Program for the National team, the Coach and Club Development program to share best practices and the HER Platform to promote female health and wellness.  Teams play in a two part season starting in the Fall and resuming in the Spring, taking a break for High School soccer.

The official ECNL program starts at U14, but U12 and U13 teams can participate in a “Jr ECNL” program.  There can be quite a bit of travel for the ECNL teams and although our Southern California teams have mainly local conference games, teams from Nevada and Arizona are a part of the So Cal Conference.  The National Showcase Events can be anywhere in the country as well as the National Championship Games.

Although ECNL events are only for ECNL clubs, teams are allowed to have “Discovery Players” a player who is not a member of an ECNL club.  Each team U14-U17 is allowed two discovery players who participate in all ECNL events with the ECNL team and then all other events with their home (non-ECNL) team. U18 teams are allowed 4 Discovery Players.  This can be a great opportunity for girls who distance or other restrictions prevent them from joining an ECNL club.


The EGSL stands for “Elite Girls Soccer League” and was born from collaboration between current Elite Clubs National League (“ECNL”) Directors of Coaching in order to address the college recruiting needs for the sister team players in their clubs. The ECNL has evolved into the premier destination for college coaches seeking to recruit players for their teams and, until now, the excellent, and deserving players on the sister teams not receiving regular exposure on the ECNL teams, were limited in their opportunities to be scouted. The EGSL is a league for the ECNL sister teams designed to attract coaches from colleges of all sizes and all levels which will result in an increased number of scholarship offers for the sister team players. The EGSL was formed with the approval of the ECNL and will include ECNL sister teams as well as the Jr. ECNL first teams (U12 and U13). (taken from the EGSL website)

The EGSL was announced in 2013 and the sister teams from the members of the So Cal conference have been invited to be the founding members.  The U14-U17 So Cal EGSL teams will play a Spring League, a Fall and/or Spring College Showcase, and the EGSL Club Championship.  So Cal Jr ECNL teams will participate in a Spring League, an EGSL Showcase/Jr ECNL Event and the EGSL Club Championship.  Some out of state teams have also been invited to participate in the Showcase Events.  The winner of each age group at the EGSL Club Championship earns automatic qualification into the prestigious Surf Cup in August.  The EGSL North has also been created for the Northern California teams.

Here’s a little chart I created with some of the differences and similarities…



Phew!  Hope that all makes sense.  As I said at the beginning, I haven’t yet had any personal experience with either so please correct me if I’m wrong or if you have something to add.

Update 2017- Now EGSL teams have been expanded to all ECNL club affiliate top teams as well as the original ECNL club second teams.  I haven’t seen any showcases over the last two years except for Jr ECNL teams. In Southern California there is a thriving Spring League and the ability to write “EGSL” behind your team’s name.

15 thoughts on “ECNL and EGSL- What’s the Deal?

  1. Thanks for the info! My dd just moved to a ECNL sister team and I’m trying to figure this all out. Thx

  2. Thanks for the break down! My daughter plays for the eagles. She was on EGSL team but now playing for ECNL. One BIG difference is the cost!! Ouch ECNL is expensive!!

    1. Thanks for reading! That’s what I’ve heard about ECNL but I know many think it’s definitely worth it. What do you think??

  3. Wow…ENCL and EGSL…new kids on the block. Also SoCal Development Soccer League, pretty new as well. Too bad these exist because they are taking away from real competition in So Cal. All these teams used to play in CSL which is still the biggest league in So Cal. The ENCL designation really does not mean all that they want it to. For example, there are local teams like Real So Cal ENCL teams that have been spanked by teams that are not even in the coveted league. ENCL really means nothing other than that the club decided to get into that particular league. The leagues want more teams and accept more teams. Look at the parity. There are 1st place ENCL teams that have beat all their ENCL league competitors with a 30 to 1 goal differential. What that should tell you is that they are playing against lesser teams and need higher competition and should be at a higher level. These same teams then play a tournament and do not even place in an open format. My point is that ENCL is not elite. True there are some good teams there. There are also some so so teams, and worse. The only thing that makes sense is leagues where teams advance based on merit. In the encl, there is no where to go if the team beats its competitors. This idea that these are the best teams is destroyed simply by searching their records outside of the ENCL league…Parents are being taken for a ride when they think that the encl is anything other than the latest new league concocted by people trying to make money. Better to go to CSL and play through a league cup of 100 + teams on all levels to see where you team stands…or better yet, go play the state and national tournaments that are open. Here yo u will find serious competition and a few will be encl teams, but also egsl, csl, and a few others and this is just in socal…

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! Yes, I agree that overall competition has very much changed over the last five-six years and that ECNL is insulated from other competition. The reality seems to be that college recruiting is easier when you are on an ECNL team and it is sold as “elite” to parents and players. Good thing everyone can make their own choices!

  4. Eagles girls won Nationals so they beat the so called best of the best in CSL. There is no comparing the two leagues. ECNL is the cream of the crop

  5. My 8 year old daughter just got selected to an “EGSL 08” teammate a Surf club but I have to wonder what that means exactly since she won’t be going to college anytime soon. What’s the point of naming teams this young like this and at this age how much does it matter what team she is on as long as she loves to play?

    1. Hi Chris- Thanks for reading and commenting. I think it’s just consistent method of naming teams. Teams used to be called gold, silver etc… My little daughter just said, “Are they stressing them out at age 8??” Ha ha! It just means that she is on the top team at her age level. (I think anyway!) When it gets to U14, the top team switches to ECNL and EGSL is the second team. As long as she’s having fun and happy that’s great!

  6. This was excellent information. Thank you. One question though. What about CRL (California Regional League)? How does this league work compared to ECNL and EGSL?

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! CRL is totally separate from both ECNL and EGSL. ECNL teams do not play in CRL because it conflicts with their league season. EGSL teams sometimes do- especially the younger teams. Entry into CRL is done though a play-in each summer. Teams who finish high in the standings one year will gain automatic acceptance.

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