UPSL’s Commissioner Yan Skwara on The Fastest Growing Men’s League in America
The UPSL has broken all growth records for men’s soccer in America. Year after year the UPSL is the fastest growing adult soccer league in America. Yan Skwara, the league’s Commissioner, and Leonel Lopez, founder, and President have accomplished something few even attempt … sustaining a national men’s soccer league with hundreds of teams. Another unique feature of the UPSL is its promotion and relegation.
The United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) has changed the landscape of men’s soccer forever. While the critics of promotion-relegation are loud, the UPSL has it working, and working well. America’s fastest-growing men’s soccer league — now with 350 teams — offers soccer teams all across America the chance to compete in a national league at an affordable rate — a source of great pride for its commissioner Yan Skwara.
SoccerToday’s Interview with Yan Skwara
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the level of competition in the UPSL?
Yan Skwara: The teams in the UPSL compete with the other leagues sanctioned by USASA, such as the NPSL, WPSL, UWS and the lower levels of the USL.
The UPSL is a National league sanctioned by USASA, just like NPSL.
Both the UPSL and the NPSL leagues have many similar characteristics when it comes to its club membership, minimum standards and quality of play.
It’s a fair assessment that all the leagues in America have top teams, as well as teams that rank in the middle and lower tables. UPSL teams have knocked out USL Championship and NPSL clubs in the Open Cup matches and obviously vice versa.
Diane Scavuzzo: The UPSL has promotion relegation — how is it working? Are the teams responsive? Is it something the players are aware of and care about?
Yan Skwara: Pro Rel is launched in specific markets in our UPSL league and the response has been overwhelmingly positive as teams want to work on being able to push to the next level.
If a Division 2 team is pursuing its goal to get to the Division I level — then it is promotion-relegation that is allowing that challenge.
Players are very sensitive to what division they play in, so yes, players are aware of the division levels and typically always want to play at the highest level possible, but sometimes that means starting at the Division II level because that player needs to work his way up.
Obviously, some players are way past the Division II level and need to play at Division I depending on their age and talent.
Diane Scavuzzo: Is the level of professionalism increasing? How is this different than a local community league?
Yan Skwara: Many of our UPSL teams are doing a great job — from both a business and marketing standpoint, operating their teams professionally while other teams may be new and are learning how to operate a club outside of competing in a community league.
We are a league of opportunity.
The UPSL has seen many clubs come in from community leagues that have demonstrated tremendous growth and are ready for the next level quickly with the guidance that we, as a league, provide.
Diane Scavuzzo: How many UPSL teams have participated in the US open cup?
Yan Skwara: Each year, we have anywhere from 30 to 40 teams competing in the US Open cup qualifiers and battle for a slot in round one. Now that we are a nationally sanctioned league, we will be looking at designated slots in the near future.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can I get a breakdown of men’s, women’s, youth teams participating?
Yan Skwara: Men’s teams have always been the backbone of our league with over 300 teams competing spring 2020, followed by our women’s division — which is currently just kicking off in the Northeast and in the central conference.
The UPSL Youth Premier was launched a year ago with divisions in Southern California and Texas.