ECNL Boys Announces 6 New Member Clubs in Southern California for 2020-2021
The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) Boys is excited to announce that Arsenal, FC Golden State, Pateadores, Real So Cal, San Diego Surf, and Strikers FC will join the league in the 2020-2021 season as members of the Southwest Conference.
“A platform based on club collaboration, aligned by core values, and where top-level competition comes with reduced travel, is critical to the future of the game,” said ECNL President Christian Lavers. “The Southwest Conference is modeling the future of the youth game, and we will continue to work to fulfill our mission to raise the game and make the ECNL better for every player, club, and coach involved.”
All the teams had previously competed in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy West Conference, Southwest Division. Both FC Golden State and San Diego Surf U16 and U15 teams had secured DA Playoff spots. And in the U18/19s, Blue Division’s Real So Cal held the #2 Playoff spot and Red Division’s FC Golden State held the #4 Playoff spot.
Why are these youth soccer clubs leaving the DA to join ECNL?
“In a time of chaos in our nation and in our soccer federation, we are excited to move into a consistent pathway for developing college and elite players,” said PJ Brown, Director Arsenal FC.
“We have been members of the DA from Day 1. With the rapid demise of the DA with no communication, and with so much uncertainty, it is exciting to jump into ECNL’s organized national league,” said Alberto Bru, Director of Real So Cal.
“We have seen instability in U.S. Soccer and their commitment to the DA, meanwhile we have watched ECNL be consistent with their mission, grow in strength and gain momentum,” said Brian Enge, CEO of Surf. “Our conclusion, after looking at all options including creating something new, is to join ECNL.”
“We believe that for the good of the game, it is not wise to splinter the player pool further by launching a new entity.”Brian Enge, Surf Soccer
“Pateadores will be transitioning our club with the same principles and mission that we always have implemented over to ECNL,” said Director Teddy Chronopoulos. “After U.S. Soccer abruptly ended the DA without any communication — which we have been a part of since its inception and put many resources into — we are excited to start this journey with ECNL, and are ready for the positive changes they bring.”
“ECNL is 100% focused on youth soccer with a democratically elected conference leadership — so the governance is a representation of all the clubs that make up the league,” said Enge. “On the other hand, you have U.S. Soccer whose focus is not the development of youth soccer — it is on the governance of the entire sport, as well as the health of our national teams.”
“These six clubs all felt very strongly that we needed a platform that fit our makeup and addressed our needs better,” said Don Ebert, Executive Director Soccer Strikers FC. “ECNL does that.”
ECNL understands youth club soccer and they have a great National platform that is geared to youth clubs, not professional clubs.Don Ebert, Strikers FC
“With all the uncertainty and lack of communication and planning, FC Golden State wanted to stay forward-thinking and move to a league that would supply a tremendous platform for our members to compete and grow,” said Jimmy Norberg, Director FC Golden State. “And, we wanted to stay together with all the elite clubs in the local market to provide challenging, competitive games with less travel.”
“It’s encouraging to see development back in the hands of local clubs.”PJ Brown, Arsenal FC
“The addition of these clubs, along with our current members, will make the Southwest Conference of ECNL Boys the pre-eminent competition in the region,” said ECNL Boys Commissioner Jason Kutney. “Creating this incredible level of localized competition through the willingness to work together with other clubs for the benefit of the sport will provide a great spark for the youth game overall.”
The Scoop on These Youth Soccer Clubs:
Founded in 1986, Arsenal FC includes 27 teams and more than 300 boys players.
Club alumni have made a significant mark on the national and international stage, including US National Team Captain Carlos Bocanegra, Champions League Spartak Moscow’s Yura Movsisyan, El Salvador International Gerson Mayen, MLS All-Star and US International Nick Rimando, MLS All-Star Hector Jimenez, US National Team Captain Aaron Long and US International Paul Arriola. “Year after year, I have seen our Arsenal ladies achieve success and earn thousands of dollars in college scholarships through the opportunity afforded them by playing in the Elite Clubs National League,” said Director PJ Brown. “I am excited to bring our boys teams into the ECNL and position them for the same success now and for their future.”
“Arsenal FC is excited to work again with these other five SoCal clubs who have consistently paved the way over the years in player development,” said Brown. “Year after year, we have watched our girls succeed in the ECNL and are excited to provide this opportunity for boys.”
“We are developing world-class players and the ECNL is a key part of our pathway to that success.”PJ Brown, Arsenal FC Director
FC Golden State includes over 900 players in a pathway from youth to professional with LA Force in the NISA.
FC Golden State has developed players for multiple professional American clubs, including Harold Hansen (Portland Timbers), Diego Lopez (Atlanta United), and Jonathan Perez (LA Galaxy), as well as numerous college players to top programs across the country. “FC Golden State is excited and honored to have the privilege of competing in ECNL with our top teams,” said Director Jimmy Nordberg. “The league will provide a tremendous platform for all of our players to compete and showcase their talents, and we are confident that this will be a terrific move with like-minded clubs, in a club-centered league where players, coaches and staff grow and develop together.”
“Our mission is to always find a league to provide an elite platform for our members to showcase their talents on the local, regional and national level and ECNL has the infrastructure to provide this for us,” added Norberberg. “We can’t wait to get back on the pitch and start playing games!”
Located in Costa Mesa, CA, Pateadores has more than 220 boys and girls teams.
The club has had four #1 MLS draft picks since 1996, with their most recent #1 draft pick Frankie Amaya in 2019. A long list of professional stars have come through Pats, including John Thorrington, Danny Calif, Maurice Edu, Matt Reis, Luis Gil, Luis Silva, and Frankie Amaya. “Pateadores are very excited to work with ECNL and the many talented and quality current clubs in the league, and to uphold the ECNL’s principles and initiatives,” said Director Teddy Chronopoulos. “Our players will have the opportunity to train and compete under the same guidelines, standards, and expectations set forth by our club.”
Real So Cal was founded in 2000 and includes 28 boys teams and more than 400 players.
The club has won six National Championships since its inception and includes a staff with more than 15 “A” and “B” licensed coaches. “Real So Cal is excited to be part of the Boys ECNL,” said Director Alberto Bru (AB). “We are looking forward to what the league provides our players. The ECNL college showcases are established with amazing attendance on the Girls’ side and on the boys’ side, I am convinced we will see tremendous growth.”
“ECNL’s excellent competition will benefit our players — and ECNL also has a platform for our second teams. Our players will receive the same training as in the DA, will have less travel and can aspire for a national championship,” added AB.
San Diego Surf was founded in 1977 and includes 35 boys teams and more than 500 players.
In its history, the club has won 11 National Championships and 26 Regional Championships. “San Diego Surf has been at the forefront of youth soccer for more than 40 years and has consistently ranked as a top program regardless of platform or league,” said Director of Coaching Josh Henderson. “Our mission is to create the best opportunities and experiences for our players, and our dedication to this mission is even more apparent as we are honored to join the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL). We are beyond thrilled to compete in what we believe will be the best boys league in the nation.”
“The ECNL provides the strongest competition for our boys and girls in Southern California as well as nationally,” said Enge who confirmed the decision to move the Surf teams to ECNL was not based on rumors but was a long term decision. “We are champions of our Federation.”
“When we look long term, ECNL is the most mission aligned with us,” said Enge. “ECNL believes in the development of the sport and the athlete on and off the field.”
Founded in 1984, Strikers FC currently operates 30 competitive boys teams with over 500 players.
The club was home to two of the country’s youngest professional soccer players, Francis Jacobs (14) and Shane Kaemerle (15), and has seen eight alums go on to play for the US Men’s National Team. “I am excited for this new chapter for our club,” said Executive Director of Soccer Don Ebert. “Strikers FC has always tried to embrace change, as we believe that real growth can only happen if you are willing to change. I have no doubt that moving to the ECNL Boys will be a very positive step for all our players and families. It was time to make the change for the benefit of our players and families.”
“Like in all things, change is natural and good from our perspective.”Don Ebert, Executive Director Strikers FC
Additional new clubs for the ECNL Boys 2020-2021 season will be announced in the coming days.
Want to know more about the Elite Clubs National League Boys?
Elite Clubs National League Boys (ECNL Boys) was founded to provide a top-class, club-based development, training, and competition platform for youth male soccer players in the United States. The mission of the ECNL Boys is to improve the landscape for players in the United States through innovative, player-centered programming that raises standards of quality and improves the player experience in all aspects of the game. The ECNL Boys is sanctioned by US Club Soccer and is sponsored by PUMA North America.