In a short period of time, our club has laid the groundwork for a clear pathway to the highest competitive level of player development. Moving to a club-centric approach in the 2021-22 seasonal year has helped bring the structure needed to unify our teams on the same path forward, giving all players the opportunity to advance their own competitive level based on their rate of development.
Here is a breakdown of the youth leagues we will now be part of, beginning fall of 2022, and what that means potentially for your player, beginning at the top level of the pathway down to the foundation.
HERNDON ELITE PLAYERS U13-U19
Club Member of VDA (Virginia Development Academy), forming VDA North
In March, we announced our membership to VDA, a club formed in 2017 to play in boys and girls ECNL (Elite Clubs National League) that begins at U13. VDA was originally formed under the collaboration of PWSI (Prince William Soccer, Inc.) and VSA (Virginia Soccer Association). The top players from each of these clubs provided the foundation of VDA teams to compete at the highest competitive level in ECNL, with PWSI becoming VDA-East and VSA becoming VDA-West. Both PWSI and VSA maintain their individual club identities, with a large recreational program and travel program.
Herndon has joined this collaboration as VDA-North, and our club continues to operate as our own club with robust recreational and travel leagues and programs. Herndon’s most elite players now have a pathway to compete in ECNL either through selection to VDA teams full time, or the possibility to be part of VDA on a part-time basis as a Development Player while playing in Herndon. Development Players are identified by Herndon coaches because they may excel on their team, yet not be quite ready for a full-time selection to VDA and play in ECNL. Being a part-time player can reward their advancing competitive level while allowing them a more gradual acclimation to the ECNL level. The Herndon coach would collaborate with VDA staff about the training commitment between both teams, and potentially any game opportunities with VDA for the Herndon player. The duration of this Development Player opportunity depends on the player’s development, and all decisions are made in the best interest of the player. It could lead to full time selection to VDA, continued experience on part time basis, or if the player is not quite ready for the ECNL level, a conversation of what the player needs to work on to get to that level while still developing in Herndon.
ECNL is a league sanctioned by US Club Soccer, a governing body of youth soccer. For a greater explanation of ECNL (National), please click here to read. As an ECNL club, VDA is the most successful club in the area in placing players into college soccer programs. As a member club, Herndon will have access to VDA’s vast college soccer education and network.
WHAT THIS MEANS: This is exciting news for our most elite players. Herndon is looking to be part of the process of supporting the competitive development of our most talented players. For the majority of our players on Black, Red, White and Silver teams, nothing changes for their team or their development; the partnership just adds another layer of opportunity for our players to aspire to. Also, since Herndon is considered VDA-North in the collaboration, we can potentially attract more players into Herndon as a way for them to develop along this pathway.
HERNDON BLACK TEAMS U11-U19
Herndon Joins VPSL to Compete in ECNL-Regional for U13-U19 Teams
We most recently announced our club is now a member of VPSL (Virginia Premier Soccer League) and will compete in the ECNL Regional League beginning in the fall. ECNL Regional is the second tier of ECNL (National League) and follows the same structure; making our club’s participation in this league an important and logical step of our collaboration with VDA and in elite player development. This is EXCITING news for our club, teams, players, and parents. Here’s why:
Herndon’s top teams in each age group (Black level teams) will play in ECNL Regional League - Virginia North as a member of VPSL (sanctioned by US Club Soccer). We will play the top clubs that are concentrated in Northern Virginia. This means greater competition, AND less travel! Below are the clubs we will play in the regular season league matches in the North Division. For clubs that participate in ECNL (National), we will play their second team in each age group. For all other clubs, we will play their top team.
Great Falls Reston
Villareal Virginia Academy
ECNL Regional League – Virginia operates regular-season divisions based on geographical locations: North and South. The champions of each division qualify for postseason play in regional and national events. In addition, as part of US Club Soccer, ECNL Regional League players may be identified to the id2 National Identification and Development Program.
Our Black teams will now qualify for the State Cup operated by US Club Soccer and compete against other US Soccer Clubs in Virginia in this single-elimination tournament.
WHAT THIS MEANS: Our Black teams in the club are competing against the area’s top clubs, offering greater competition with localized travel. We have exciting opportunities for postseason advancement regionally and nationally through the US Club Soccer format and a pathway for individual player identification at the national level.
HERNDON RED TEAMS U13-U19
Herndon is Now Part of the National League and will Play EDP U13-U19
We are excited to announce that our Red teams will compete in EDP beginning in the fall as our club, along with several other area clubs, has joined the USYS (United States Youth Soccer) National League - South Atlantic Conference. EDP (Elite Development Program) Soccer manages 13 conferences across the nation in a team-to-team format, and will now offer a club-to-club format for the first time in the South Atlantic Conference next season in collaboration with CCL (Club Champions League). Herndon will be part of the club-to-club format in the National League - South Atlantic Conference, that gives our Red teams games in EDP against the clubs listed below in the familiar “club-to-club” matchday feel we’ve had in CCL, while also giving us other EDP games on a team-to-team basis within the same league. All games played will go towards the same league standings. Ultimately this gives us MORE league games against both local competition, and stronger competition when having to travel.
Here are the clubs that have joined the National League - South Atlantic Conference to play EDP in a club-to-club format, and will make up part of our full schedule:
DC Soccer Club
This league is under the US Youth Soccer umbrella, and allows our Red teams continued participation in the USYS State Cup and President’s Cup, as well as potential to earn a spot at the National League Championship Playoffs as an alternate pathway to advance to USYS Regionals and Nationals. The National League - South Atlantic Conference features teams from 100 top clubs to give localized matches that reduce travel, offers a competition structure through promotion/relegation, and provides showcase events and the opportunity to compete for a national championship for the most elite teams.
WHAT THIS MEANS: Our Red teams will have more league games, more localized games and stronger competition when traveling. The hybrid of a club-to-club matchdays and team-to-team games gives us that fun club day experience while ensuring an adequate number of games in EDP that all count in the team standings. Our Red teams will also have a pathway for post-season competition on the regional and national stage.
HERNDON WHITE AND SILVER TEAMS U11-U19
Herndon Continues in the Well-Established NCSL at the Right Competitive Level
Our White and Silver teams in each age group will continue to participate in NCSL (National Capital Soccer League). NCSL is the one of the oldest leagues in the nation, and has approximately 72 member clubs across Maryland, DC, Virginia and West Virginia where games are scheduled by a team-to-team format with a division structure of promotion/relegation. This allows teams to be placed at a competitive level that fits their development.
NCSL operates within US Youth Soccer, and our U12-U19 teams have the option to participate in the VYSA (Virginia Youth Soccer Association) President’s Cup–a single-elimation tournament to crown the best team in the state in these age groups at this level.
WHAT THIS MEANS: No changes to our league structure for Herndon White and Silver teams in U11-U19 age groups as it works well for their development.
HERNDON RED TEAMS U11-U12
Herndon’s Red Teams will Compete in the New CCL U11-U12 Super League
CCL (Club Champions League) continues with an expanded league structure for a competitive platform of more regionalized conference play for the U11 and U12 age groups. The CCL Super League offers our Red teams to play in tiered divisions based on their competitive level, and includes more clubs from Northern Virginia to reduce travel.
The CCL U11-U12 Super League offers our teams two added events at no additional costs to teams: Scrimmagefests held locally at the onset of the fall season and at the conclusion of the spring season. Scrimmagefests are a one-day event with several mini-games to focus on development at this age, and the U11-U12 format includes referees.
CCL is under the USYS structure, and U12 Red teams can begin to participate in VYSA State Cup and President’s Cup based on their competitive level.
WHAT THIS MEANS: Our U11 and U12 Red Teams are still part of CCL, and the league is adding more clubs in these age groups to provide more competition and align the conferences geographically. More competitive games, less travel. Additional league events at no cost to enhance development.
ALL TEAMS U9-U10
Herndon Continues in CCL Next Gen as a Foundation of Development
Our youngest travel teams will continue to compete in CCL Next Gen as the foundation of travel soccer and it is the first league entered for many of Northern Virginia’s clubs. The focus of the U9 and U10 age groups continue to be development, and CCL Next Gen offers tiers for our Technical Director to place each team in according to their competitive level. A special benefit included in the league at no additional cost to teams are the Scrimmagefests held each fall and spring. The one-day event is organized as a stress-free tournament with several mini-games played. No scores or standings are kept, and the emphasis is on fun, creativity, and education with game competition.
WHAT THIS MEANS: All U9 and U10 teams continue in CCL Next Gen as the foundation of travel soccer. Nothing changes for these age groups except the possibility of playing different clubs as the league continues to expand.