East Coast Clubs Transition to National Academy League
Update to the original article: National Academy League: Mid-America Conference (New)
A large number of MLS NEXT clubs on the east coast are leading the way to launch a newly formed league, National Academy League (NAL). The league is anticipated to kick off fall of 2023.
Founding members include many MLS NEXT member clubs who are not officially affiliated with Major League Soccer (i.e. – New England Revs, Philadelphia Union, New York City FC, etc.).
There are 54 boys’ soccer clubs on the original members’ list for the National Academy League. These teams include some of the top clubs from the northeast down to the southeast of the U.S. and will be broken up into five conferences: New England, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Florida.
Some of the founding members include well-known and established clubs including:
- Florida Rush
- IMG Academy
- Inter Atlanta FC
- Alexandria SA
- PA Classics
- Cedar Stars
- BW Gottschee
- FA Euro
- Boston Bolts
- Seacoast United
For each of the league’s conferences, there will be a U13-U19 group with the flexibility to create events and tournaments within the conference.
As part of the competition, teams will have the opportunity to attend the IMG Cup College Showcase in December. Top teams will also be invited to compete at the National Academy League Championship taking place in June of 2024.
Founding Member Conferences
New England Conference: Boston Bolts, IFA, NEFC, Seacoast United, Valeo, Bayside FC, NY Rush Select, SDA, NY Elite
Northeast Conference: BW Gottschee, Cedar Stars Academy North Bergen, Beachside SC of CT, FC Westchester, Cedar Stars Academy Monmouth, TSF Academy, Ironbound SC, New York SC, DUSC, Met Oval, Barca Academy Pro, Cedar Stars Academy Hudson Valley, FA Euro, LI Slammers
Mid-Atlantic Conference: Alexandria SA, Achilles, SACBA, Bethesda SC, FC DELCO, PA Classics, PDA, Real Jersey, Sporting Athletic, SYC
Southeast Conference: Hoover-Vestavia Soccer, Inter Atlanta FC, Kalonji Soccer Academy, Lanier Soccer Academy, Southern Soccer Academy, Wake FC, Triangle United SC
Florida Conference: Florida Rush, Tampa Bay United, Weston FC, Miami Rush Kendall SC, West Florida Flames, Jacksonville FC, IMG Academy, United Soccer Alliance, Ideasport Soccer Academy, Chargers SC, Plantation FC Academy, FC Tampa Rangers, SFFA, Orlando City Seminole
Creating a New Pathway for Boys Youth Soccer
Essentially, the National Academy League is creating a new (and, maybe better?) pathway for boys’ youth soccer on the east coast.
It will be interesting to see how this affects the non-affiliated MLS teams in MLS NEXT and ECNL. I think the former will be most affected with many ECNL teams transitioning to the NAL but this will be determined club by club.
We’ll also have to wait and see if and when the new league expands out to the rest of the country.
In their press release, The National Academy states that “The nation’s top Academy Clubs collaborate to support their developmental pathway for players focused on their professional and college careers through the National Academy League.”
For more information, check out The National Academy League Game Day Guide.