VDA to follow Loudoun to ECNL as youth football chess game rumbles

WASHINGTON- The geopolitical shadowboxing between two of the biggest national youth soccer leagues in the United States continues to simmer, and the DC-Maryland-Virginia region has recently become a major battleground.

like american football Girls Development Academy is heading towards the conclusion of its first season of play, its titular competitor the National Elite Club League has taken a tenaciously combative stance, determined to keep current members, win the hunt for new ones, and even remove member clubs from Girls DA when possible.

This week, Northern Virginia giant Loudoun Soccer announced it will join the ECNL effective the start of the new season this fall, a notable recruit based in one of the wealthiest and growing communities. fastest in the country. A source told SoccerWire.com that Loudoun was also offered a place in the Girls DA but turned it down.

Another shoe is expected to drop in the next few days, and it might turn a few more heads. Multiple sources have confirmed that the Virginia Development Academy – born out of a partnership between Prince William Soccer, Inc., the Virginia Soccer Association and the Chantilly Youth Association to launch a Boys Development Academy program in 2014 – is set to move its best girls programs from Girls DA to ECNL. It is the latest arrival in the latter league’s sustained push to grow its membership nationwide.

[+Loudoun Soccer joins Girls ECNL for 2018-2019 season ]

This may have influenced another piece moving the other way: the Girls DA should release its updated membership list at all times, and while a few clubs have had their memberships revoked, others will be welcome. We were told that the Arlington Soccer Association would be the DMV region’s most notable newcomer to the girls’ side of the Development Academy, but only in the younger age groups at the start, rather than as a member at full share.

In a sense, this hopscotch is not new, but a game of chess that has been going on since the birth of Girls DA. Big clubs moved back and forth and, in many cases, smaller clubs jumped in to free up the spaces left behind. But it also suggests that the rivalry between the leagues is real and more balanced than some would have imagined.

Many observers have been predicting for some time that the institutional strength of the federation will be too much for the ECNL to overcome, making it a matter of time before Girls DA achieves a clear advantage in quality of play. and talent recruitment.

However, the ECNL and its members make it clear that they will not concede the heights without a fight. They feel that they can provide a better membership experience and an equal or better development journey, even if the federation’s substantial resources are mobilized on the Girls DA. In some cases, this case is presented loud and clear during “information sessions” for parents who are feared to flee to other programs.

In this regard, the federation’s “no high school rule” has worked to ECNL’s advantage, even with the wider leeway that has been extended on the girls’ side compared to the relatively strict national enforcement for boys since 2012. High school football has proven hard to give up, even for some elite players, and many parents and coaches chafe at the detached, top-down federation mentality they believe it symbolizes.

[+Games & Thrones: ECNL vs. Girls DA cold war rages ]

“There wasn’t a singular factor. We just think ECNL meets the needs and culture of our organization,” said a source at a club that chose ECNL over Girls DA. “It took a decade for the boys to get where they are. They tried to replicate that with the girls and change the culture in a matter of months.

“We have nothing negative to say about the Girls DA or its leadership. We just didn’t think it was better for our kids based on the feedback we were getting from our members.

In places where high school play is valued, the situation is an opportunity for ECNL to affirm that it can provide a comparable experience with fewer mandates and restrictions. The recent election of a new president of the federation, Carlos Cordeiroalso fueled hopes of driving change in or around Girls DA.

The new league can, however, play the mighty trump card: as a competition and a chosen path by the federation, it can claim to be the best place to be scouted and groomed for national team selection by US Soccer staff.

Some feel that this hand was not played aggressively enough. The federation touts its platform and notes in official versions of the list how many young national teams are identified in the Girls DA, but has yet to ruthlessly and explicitly eliminate ECNL-based players. (Although yes, we’ve heard the accusations that players have been forced to move to Federal League clubs…and vice versa.)

Perhaps the federation staff are reluctant to take the backlash this would cause, or simply confident in their long-term superiority and therefore able to bide their time. For now, this has left the market confused and talent diluted across two domestic competition platforms – not to mention US Youth Soccer. National Leaguea fairly high level of play but not as long or immersive as the Girls DA or ECNL – where there was one before.

So the youth football Cold War will drag on for at least a few years to come.

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