Parents looking for a soccer outlet for their child have two general choices. Recreational soccer can be found throughout the region, offered by local schools and park districts. Most High Schools offer youth camps for students within their district, run by the High School coach and players. Park Districts will generally contract for a similar service. There are also leagues run by area facilities such as Vetta Sports. Links to regional facilities and leagues can be found on my Links Page.
In St Louis, the Catholic Youth Council (CYC) is a long time provider as well. The season starts in late August/September and runs through November and is coordinated among the Catholic churches in your community. CYC offers programs for children Kindergarten through second grade (Judge Dowd League) as well as Fifth Grade through Twelfth Grade that culminates in a Parish Championship.
In general, competitive soccer is provided by clubs who are members of the Missouri Youth Soccer Association (MYSA) or Illinois Youth Soccer Assocation (IYSA). Each organization is the state affiliate & member of U.S. Soccer and U.S. Youth Soccer (USYSA). As such they are responsible for implementing affiliate programs, policies, and services for their state. Members of IYSA and MYSA automatically become members of U.S. Soccer and U.S. Youth Soccer.
This is known as ‘select soccer‘ and the clubs hold kick arounds and tryouts for players. Kick arounds are a new effort to reduce the stress on the players while giving them and their parents an opportunity to learn more about a Club. They are held in advance of tryouts. The date of the tryouts is regulated by the State Association and is generally in early June in Illinois and the middle of June in Missouri. While primarily driven by High School age players who may NOT participate in Club and High School simultaneously it is convenient for the clubs to handle all age groups at the same time.
The competitive landscape has expanded and split quite a bit over the past five years leading to tiers.
The top tier for boys nationally is the US Soccer Development Academy (USSDA). It is offered by St Louis Scott Gallagher SC in Illinois and Missouri with a U18 and U16 team that compete against teams in the Midwest and Nationally. A U14 team will be added in the Fall of 2013 and the club also has teams it deems “pre-academy”.
They do NOT compete outside of the USSDA. It is a 10 month program which means they also forgo High School soccer.
The top tier for girls nationally is the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) and again, only SLSG offers teams that compete in this league. Like the USSDA, there is a separate National Championship. In the Spring of 2013, SLSG Missouri ECNL offered a U18 team that like the boys, competed during the High School season, therefor foregoing the High School soccer. Otherwise there are age group teams from U14-U18 (inclusive) that compete during the Fall within the ECNL only. It is expected that the Club will add additional age group teams that will compete year round based upon demand. Visit the Illinois and Missouri websites for more information.
The second tier of competitive play FOR BOYS is offered by US Club Soccer. US Club Soccer is a National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, like the State Associations, but is an organization committed to the development and support of soccer clubs in the United States outside of State limitations. Their competitive leagues have sprung up to fill a need they identified. They offer the National Premier Leagues and St Louis Scott Gallagher has boys teams that compete in the Midwest Development League. While there are girls leagues under the NPL banner, there are no local clubs currently competing within them. I have been told by an SLSG Director that they will be adding Girls NPL in Fall 2014.
That leads back to the State Associations and their competitive outlets for the final, or third tier. The State Cups are held for High School girls in October and for younger girls and all boys age groups in May-June. Age Group winners advance to the Region II Tournament which in turn sends one winner in each Age Group to the US Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) National Championships. The 2013 Tournament is being held July 23-28 in Overland Park, Kansas (Kansas City).
There is one additional opportunity to reach the National Championships. USYSA has created the National League which is an invitation-only tournament that is run over the course of three long weekends, leading to group winners who are then offered spots at the National tournament. in 2012-2013, two metro teams participated. The Lou Fusz Geerling U17 Boys and the Lou Fusz Wipke U18 girls. The Lou Fusz Wipke girls advanced to the National Championships based upon their performance in the League.
The State Associations and USYSA have also created a secondary competition known as the President’s Cup. It also leads to a National Champion, via the State and Regional competitive route, but these teams are less competitive then teams competing in the State Cup.
I am developing pages on each club which you can find as a sub-pages of this main page. My primary goal is to have a central source of the information as well as provide an easy reference point for myself when writing stories. Feel free to peruse them and offer feedback via the Comments capability or by contacting me.