UPSL’s Commissioner Yan Skwara on Connecting American Soccer
The UPSL is still the fastest growing adult soccer league in America. Yan Skwara, the league’s Commissioner, and Leonel Lopez, founder and President are continuing to meet the needs of men’s soccer in America. Now, with over 300+ teams in the league, what is UPSL doing that makes sense to so many?
Soccer is now a vibrant part of American sports and its popularity is growing stronger every season. Major League Soccer (MLS) fans are flocking to games in record numbers, and Atlanta United recently broke its own attendance record on August 3, 2019, establishing a new benchmark of 72,548 tickets for their game against LA Galaxy.
The real increase of the sport’s fan base is crystalized when you combine the numbers of the highest-attended MLS game crowds with the success of the professionally run national men’s amateur league, the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL).
Together, the growth proves the depth of passion America has for soccer. People want to watch and play the beautiful game in the USA — just the way they do in countries where the soccer culture has transcended generations.
The UPSL has changed the landscape of men’s soccer by pushing the concept of affordability and year-round play and capitalizing on the worldwide concept of Promotion & Relegation.
The UPSL has succeeded in creating a unique pathway for players who want to make an impact on the pitch and can not find a roster spot in the pro ranks —- in addition, the UPSL provides year-round league play with Spring – Summer and Fall – Winter seasons.
America’s entrepreneurial flair reflects our land of opportunity — and few have tested what is possible more than USPL’s Commissioner Yan Skwara.
Now, more than ever, when it comes to owning a soccer franchise or even playing in a professional atmosphere in America — as usual — our country offers a broad array of choices. While the landscape confuses even longtime aficionadoes, the UPSL is undeniably the fastest growing league in America.
With teams across America, the UPSL provides an opportunity for many to field a team and to play who otherwise could not.
SoccerToday’s Interview with Yan Skwara
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you see the UPSL helping grow soccer in American?
Yan Skwara: The UPSL is playing a critical role in the development of players in the USA as there has been a tremendous gap at the professional development level for players between the ages of 17 to 22. This gap has existed for decades.
The UPSL has filled that gap and has created a league platform that allows top young players — players of tomorrow to showcase their skills today against other competitive players in a national league that plays matches 10 months out of the year.
Over the years there has been a major focus on tournaments for younger players and league play has been pushed aside and treated as second fiddle.
If America’s talented young soccer players are going to turn into the World Cup stars of tomorrow, they need to be playing competitive league matches week in and week out to sharpen their skills and get their conditioning to a high level.
That’s where the UPSL plays its role as a national league. We had 300 plus teams entering the 2019 spring season and it is clear we are meeting the needs of the market and what the market demands internationally.
If this country is going to become a major player in the world’s game, we need to meet the needs of more of our 17 to 22-year-old players.
Players need to be playing competitive matches ten months of the year to become great players, not just good players. The USA has a lot of good players, but we need to develop great players.
Diane Scavuzzo: How does Promotion and Relegation work in the UPSL?
Yan Skwara: The great challenge the sport of soccer has in the USA is that the sport is not aligned with the rest of the world. Promotion Relegation
I am very proud that the USPL has initiated a pro rel system within our league and the response has been amazing. Clubs really work towards the opportunity to be promoted and the teams that are relegated understand that it provides them with the change to regain steam to rise up.
Alta California Sol (Santa Barbara), Injen Total Futbol (IE) and MAFO FC (IE) are clubs that were Promoted to 1st Division from 2nd.
Yan Skwara: The UPSL believes that owning and operating a men’s soccer franchise should not just be for the elite and wealthy, but rather an opportunity for all as it is in Europe and the rest of the world.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do you believe the UPSL has experienced such significant growth?
For soccer to reach its potential growth in America, interested individuals, investors, shareholders and fans deserve the opportunity to build a club in a national league where the sky is the limit.
At the UPSL, we want to help every team in our league be successful and we work hard to provide the building blocks.
As commissioner, I believe it is critical to provide the tools necessary so our member clubs can raise the necessary funds to finance team operations.
From marketing kits to guidance on sponsorships, we know that most owners understand the game of soccer, but they may not be as proficient at the business of running a club. The UPSL is focused on supporting all franchises, even those without the marketing experience to know how to promote their organizations.
The UPSL is determined to provide valuable resources to create a sustainable future for our clubs.
We are big advocates for strong marketing and communications and we offer several support programs throughout the year. We have an annual Summit meeting which is set up to inform and educate new teams considering coming into the league and review the UPSL minimum standards and requirements.
Held at Score, our apparel partner’s headquarters in LA, our recent Summit was a big success. We were able to mix and max our sponsors and partners with our UPSL members. The Southern California regional summit took place recently and was a great meet and greet function, allowing all our area UPSL members to get to know each other and start to work together. We were very pleased with the packed turnout.
At the Summit, we awarded trophies to the following teams for winning their Division:
- Cal FC – Michael Friedman President Western Conference / So Cal North Division
UPSL Championship t
- Alta California Sol (Santa Barbara) d’Alary Dalton President
- Injen Total Futbol (IE) – Ron Delgado President
- MAFO FC (IE) – Luis Loreto
The UPSL operates multiple Men’s open division levels as well as a Women’s division and Youth Academy Division led by Executive Director Derek Barraza.