What is ECNL soccer? All you should know

It comes as no surprise that the organization of a game results in its growth and development and it is one of the reasons why ECNL was created. However, some questions persist about it such as; What is ECNL soccer?

ECNL soccer is a national youth soccer league that comprises boys and girls who are under the ages of 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19. The goal of ECNL is to enhance the development of youth players with the aid of programs that allow young players to showcase what they’ve got in them with regard to the game of soccer.

ECNL (Elite Club National League) soccer comes with an ECNL soccer league that prioritizes excellence and respect for diversity. The long-term goal of the ECNL soccer league is to provide the US Soccer National Team with quality players that come through their ranks.

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What is the meaning of ECNL soccer?

The Elite Club National League is a non-profit organization that was launched to develop American soccer players aged between 14 and 19. It was previously thought to be solely for girls but has since been divided into ECNL Boys and ECNL Girls.

ECNL aims to enhance the competitiveness of youth players by introducing tournaments where the best teams in the United States would compete, thereby providing a platform where quality players can be discovered and also help in their growth and development.

The ECNL comes up with training and organization guidelines for every club that participates. The teams involved are categorized into conferences and the matches that take place involve conference and cross-conference games. The teams that come out tops qualify for a play-off and proceed to the finals, as is the norm in most American sports.

For players who do not have a team to play for, or are looking to change theirs, the ECNL comes in very handy. At least 120 registered teams are available for boys while more than 100 are available for girls. 

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Each game in the ECNL employs the services of scouts and referees and this is for the interest of the game in the United States. The scouts that are present in games are assigned by the US Soccer Talent Identification and their task is to evaluate and recommend players that they think can cut it in the US Youth National Team.

Meanwhile, a successful ECNL player must possess the following traits:

Any player that wants to come through the ranks of ECNL soccer must:

  • Be a good decision-maker
  • Have initiative
  • Be fully focused
  • Possess technical skill

Be a good decision-maker

Speaking about players and decision-making, there is the fact that players whose gaze at not always on the ball when they have it would perform well during a game.

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Therefore, soccer coaches pay attention to how a player receives the ball. It’s a no-brainer that players who spend more time assessing the field with their eyes would be decent decision-makers when the ball gets to them. These players are abreast with the field map during a game and this is a big advantage.

Have Initiative

For initiative, the posture of a player during a game matters. Players with initiative want to get things done with the ball and not always wait for the ball or rely on other players to get the ball to them.

These kinds of players occasionally defy tactics just to ensure that their team succeeds on the pitch. I guess that players like Lionel Messi, and Eden Hazard, amongst others, have been in this shoe at some point during games. Sometimes, a player may have no chance but to carve out chances by himself or herself.

Be fully focused

A player’s focus level is vital during a game. especially when they find themselves going a long while without the ball. For instance, goalkeepers and defenders in a team that is pressuring one another for long periods must be up to the task when their opponents manage to launch an attack.

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We’ve seen cases where a commentator screams: ‘He has had nothing to do all game but was able to make a save when the opponents launched a rare attack

Possess technical skill

Any soccer player without superb technical skills is already at a disadvantage. The ability to control the ball excellently, precision in passes, crosses, shots, and dribbling abilities all come in handy for a soccer player that wants to stand out and be among the best in the limelight.

Technique matters in defense, midfield, and attack. In recent times, even goalkeepers are required to be technical. They are expected to be good with the ball at their feet, launch counterattacks with accurate and precise long passes, amongst others.

Other factors that matter are the player’s maturity and physical fitness which will eventually be called into question many times when they start engaging fully at a professional level.

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ECNL rules

As expected, the ECNL has its rules that every entity that intends to thrive under it must adhere to. They do not play friendly games in ECNL and every single match will alter the competition’s standing.

The ball

Under 13 to under 18 players use a professional standard n.5 ball while under 11 and 12 players play with a size 4 soccer ball.


  • U11 and U12: Two 30 minutes halves.
  • U13: Two 35 minutes halves.
  • U14 to U16: Two 40 minutes halves.
  • U17 to U19: Two 45 minutes halves.


ECNL squads are required to register 30 players at most while every team must present a list of at least 18 players who are qualified for every game. This list is provided to the officials.

What is the meaning of pre-ECNL?

There is also the pre-ECNL program and it is designed for kids between the ages of 10 and 12. It is meant to prepare them for a career in the ECNL and other elite tournaments. The program also provides training for the families of the young players involved. They aim to help young players to compete and play at the highest levels against the best players in their generation.

How many teams are in the ECNL?

Ahead of the 2020/21 season, the ECNL had 113 girl clubs and 131 boy clubs registered.

Can ECNL players play high school soccer?

The ECNL allows registered players in ECNL clubs to play a non-ECNL game. Therefore, the creation of their schedules considers the soccer plans of high schools to prevent any clashes with each other. Meanwhile, ECNL teams can participate in their local, regional, and state leagues.

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What is the cost of ECNL soccer?

It costs between $5,000 and $10,000 a year for at least one kid in the ECNL. There is also an increase in expenditure when participation in tournaments and trips from coast to coast come by.

Do ECNL players get paid?

The ECNL is aimed at identifying and building young and talented soccer players. Therefore, ECNL players do not receive any payments for participating in tournaments. It is not about the money but about developing the best talents that can make headways in the elite soccer clubs in the United States and ultimately for the USMNT and USWNT.