|United States Club Soccer|
|US Open Cup, National Cup Finals, NPL Champions Cup|
US Club Soccer is a national organization and member of the United States Soccer Federation that aims to advance soccer in the United States through the development and support of soccer clubs. The organization sanctions clubs, leagues and tournaments for youth and adults, with a focus on high-level competitive play.
Founded in 2001 as the National Association of Competitive Soccer Clubs (NACSC), US Club Soccer’s stated goal is “To create, develop, and grow the best USSF-sanctioned organization to foster the growth and development of club soccer programs throughout the United States. The result of which will be to improve the level of play of the competitive soccer player, and thereby the U.S. National Teams and professional leagues.”
The organization’s philosophy is that clubs are the primary vehicle for player development. Thus, there is a focus on flexibility in areas such as roster rules, which empowers members to build programs that are in the best interests of their players. US Club Soccer also aims to create a “members for life” culture within its clubs, where players can be developed from childhood through the adult level.
US Club Soccer boasts a membership from all 50 states, and the organization sanctions well over 400 tournaments per year. Its headquarters are split between two locations in South Carolina: an executive office in Charleston and administrative office in Myrtle Beach. Membership is organized into four geographic regions, each of which holds two seats on the organization's board of directors.
US Club Soccer’s offerings include league- and cup-based competition, player identification and development programs, and additional programs geared toward club support and coaching education.
League-based programming includes the National Premier Leagues (NPL) and Premier Leagues, a collection of US Club Soccer’s top leagues from around the country. Champions of the various NPLs advance to the NPL Champions Cup, the organization’s annual league-based national championship competition. In addition, US Club soccer sanctions local competitive leagues, recreational programs and adult leagues.
Cup-based programming includes state championship events and US Club Soccer’s second national championship, the National Cup, which is open to all members and encompasses a series of regional and state competitions.
Established in 2004, the id2 National Identification and Development Program gives all players (regardless of affiliation) a chance to be identified, developed and scouted for inclusion in the U.S. national team programs. There is no cost to players to be scouted, recommended or to participate in camps.
The program includes a national scouting and recommendation system, whereby top players are invited to id2 Program Training Camps. Each year, a team of elite boys players from the designated age group is chosen for the id2 National Selection, which embarks on the annual id2 National Selection International Tour. While on the National Selection International Tour, players experience life in another country, take on youth academy teams, visit professional clubs and attend professional matches. The four tours have taken teams to the Netherlands and Germany (2010), England and Scotland (2011) and Spain (2012 and 2013). In 2012, the id2 National Selection notched a 3-1 win over FC Barcelona’s Infantil A youth academy team.
Both the id2 Program and Player Development Programs are Olympic Development Programs as approved by the United States Olympic Committee and U.S. Soccer Federation.
Another part of the id2 Program, PDPs are regional identification and development events centered around the National Premier Leagues. Players (both in the NPL and with nearby clubs) receive invitations based on performance and recommendations, and once at a PDP event, they receive coaching and can play in front of U.S. Soccer scouts.
US Club Soccer’s adult teams are eligible for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which they may reach through a qualifying process. In 2012, Stanislaus United Turlock Express became the first US Club Soccer team to reach the cup, which it accomplished by defeating the National Premier Soccer League’s Bay Area Ambassadors in a play-in game.
US Club Soccer has received a full slot in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup (a step forward from its previous allotment of a half-slot), meaning qualifying teams will move directly into the tournament without needing to win a play-in game.
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