Can Playing UPSL Help You Play Pro?

UPSL is a really good league, but players should not go in thinking they’ll play in MLS or other first-division pro leagues.

Who plays in UPSL?

UPSL has a huge mix of teams and players.

Many teams are made up of former college players who wanted to continue playing at a high level. Others are made up of players of a specific nationality.

It’s not uncommon to see former professional players on teams. Current college players also play outside of the college season.

There are also teams that serve as reserve teams or off-season training for lower professional teams such as Major Arena Soccer League and lower USL teams.

When comparing NPSL vs UPSL, it usually comes down to what’s available in your area.

If you’re still in youth soccer, UPSL should only be an extra on top of your youth team.

Do players jump from UPSL from pro?

Players rarely jump from UPSL to pro leagues. I couldn’t find any players going from UPSL to MLS.

Some UPSL players do end up signing with USL teams mainly as roster depth. A handful of college-age players also get picked up by colleges, but those are rare cases where they fell through the cracks in the usual recruiting process.

The truth is that nearly all players with MLS or higher potential have been identified by the time they’re in high school. These players usually move to a pro team’s youth academy or an MLS reserve team (now MLS NEXT Pro).

Some players are signed to MLS-affiliated USL teams or sign with USL Championship or League One teams before making the jump to MLS.

By the time players are in their late teens or twenties, it’s almost impossible to make MLS if they’re outside of the traditional path. And while UPSL can provide an additional challenge for top youth players, players in the top youth academies usually don’t have time.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with playing in UPSL or trying to chase the long odds. It’s just important to be realistic.

What is a little wrong is when individual teams or coaches make false or exaggerated promises of the opportunities available to players. Some UPSL teams (and teams in other leagues) are an extension of the youth soccer pay-to-play model.

Once players age out of the youth system, clubs and coaches advertise UPSL as a way to make a college or pro team. Again, UPSL is a good league for what it is, but the quality matches other top amateur and lower college leagues.

If you want to play good soccer and maybe have a chance to move up a division or two, play UPSL. If you want to play college or pro, have a real talk with some coaches who aren’t selling you something.

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