National Academy League Launches

MLS Next Academy Clubs launch the National Academy League. Is this league really needed?

National Academy League Announcement

54 clubs, made up mostly of MLS Next members on the east coast, have announced the launch of the National Academy League.

The league will begin with five conferences covering New England, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Florida.

The league will also have its own national championship in June as well as a showcase as part of the IMG Cup College Showcase in December.

View the NAL website.

The initial clubs include:

New England Conference

Northeast Conference

Mid-Atlantic Conference

Southeast Conference

Florida Conference

What’s the point of the National Academy League?

It’s easy to say that there are too many leagues and a new league wasn’t needed. That’s 100% true.

Youth soccer is watered down with clubs spread across too many leagues. Too many games are lopsided, and parents are spending too much money on travel.

It would be much better if there weren’t so many leagues.

But this time, it’s the leagues, not the clubs, who are the problem.

Besides being MLS Next members, the National Academy League clubs are mainly the huge clubs that can support two and even three top tier teams.

National leagues such as the ECNL and US Youth Soccer National League have been generally opposed to having clubs enter second or third teams.

This isn’t because those teams aren’t good — they’re better than many of the first teams of the smaller clubs.

Instead, each league wants to be seen as the top league instead of a league for second and third teams.

So the messaging has been, “enter your best team or don’t enter at all.”

The smaller clubs, of course, support this in the hopes that players will come to them so they can be on the small club’s first team instead of a big club’s second team.

But those players keep choosing the big clubs since the big clubs still offer better training, better facilities, better college networking, and better opportunities overall.

So what are the bigger clubs to do when the national and regional leagues don’t want their teams that are much better than the teams in the state and local leagues?

In this case, they were almost forced to start the National Academy League.

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