US YOUTH SOCCER LEAGUES PROGRAM for 2018-19
US Youth Soccer is restructuring its National League/Regional Leagues program for the 2018-19 soccer season, moving from its current 4-regional leagues structure to a more manageable, travel centered (where possible), regional leagues system. The number of Regional Leagues expected in the program is currently being developed with an expected number of 12 to 18 Regional Leagues with continued integration with the National League. The specific Regional Leagues are expected to be announced in early March. US Youth Soccer staff are expected to manage the majority of the Regionals Leagues being developed. The National League will continue in its current format of competition. More information on the 2018-19 National League can be found here:
Genders, Age Groups, and Eligibility of Teams
Each of the Regional Leagues across the country expect to offer 13U through 19U age groups of competition for boys and girls (the 12U age group will be offered in those areas that currently offer this age group). In the future, each of the Regional Leagues expect to offer younger age groups. These will be determined by local market conditions.
Regional Leagues and National League competitions are open to US Youth Soccer member teams with qualification into such competitions based on success in US Youth Soccer competitions (i.e. state, regional or national sanctioned leagues and National Championship Series competitions within US Youth Soccer). For the 2018-19 season, the Regional League system will also provide a pathway for teams currently (in 2017-18) playing in non-US Youth sanctioned competitions to be considered for slots into our 2018-19 program (For example teams playing in the 14U USSDA may be integrated into our programming at 15U in 2018-19). As a rule, teams that play in US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues are required to play in the state level of the National Championship Series.
Tiers within Regional Leagues
Each of the Regional Leagues will strive to offer multiple tiers of competition as the local marketplace demands. For example, in a 3-tier structure, the top tier will be called “Premier I”, the second tier below will be named “Premier II” and a third tier “First Division.” In a 2-tier structure, the top tier will be called “Premier I”, and the second tier “First Division.” We anticipate promotion and relegation from season to season between the tiers and an annual qualification of teams from other competitions (primarily US Youth Soccer) into slots as well.
Existing Non-Regional Leagues
As part of its restructuring of the Regional Leagues, US Youth Soccer is seeking to collaborate with existing competitive leagues that cross state association borders so that there is a seamless transition of teams qualifying for our competition from season to season. US Youth Soccer is also in discussions with such leagues to directly manage a limited number of Regional Leagues on US Youth Soccer’s behalf.
National Championships Series and National League
Similar to what occurs now (with teams from the 4-Regional Leagues advancing to Regionals or qualifying for National League) the relaunched Regional Leagues program in 2018-19 will continue to advance champions from various gender age groups into a playoff for advancement into the respective Regionals (as part of the National Championships Series) or direct advancement to the respective Regionals in early June/July 2019. Based on historical participation in the NL, Regional League champions will also either advance to a playoff for a National League slot or direct placement into the National League for the 2019-20 soccer season.
US Youth Soccer Leagues Showcases
In addition to Regional League play, as an added value to participation in US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues, teams/clubs participating will be invited to participate in a series of US Youth Soccer Showcase events that are to be scheduled in 2018-19 and beyond (similar to the Girls National League/Showcase event that took place at the IMG Academy on January 13-15, 2018 combining NL matches with showcase matches featuring Regional League teams).