ECNL Rules

ECNL Rules

The following Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) Rules are for 2023-2024 and are subject to change. The document ECNL provides to players and coaches has every detail in it so we’ve summarized the important points.

General Rules for ECNL

Age Groups & Game Lengths

DIVISIONBorn In or BeforeGame Length
U1320112 x 35 minutes
U1420102 x 40 minutes
U1520092 x 40 minutes
U1620082 x 40 minutes
U1720072 x 45 minutes
U192006 & 20052 x 45 minutes

ECNL Roster Rules

  • Every ECNL Member Club must have an ECNL team in ALL of the six age groups (U13-U19).
  • Every ECNL player must be registered through ECNL – they are considered a ‘ECNL Registered Player’.
  • Roster Maximum: A max of 30 players may be rostered on an ECNL team. Once a player is added to the roster, the player counts against the max even if they are released or transferred to another team or club.
  • Game Day Roster Maximum: 18 players per team.
  • Movement Between League Competitions: ECNL Registered Players can participate in any ECNL Club Competition and ECNL Regional League Competition with their club as long as they meet the following requirements:
    – Age eligible
    – Meet all eligibility requirements
    – Compete in only one ECNL Competition per day. Players that play in multiple ECNL Competitions must be registered as an ECNL Registered Player to one primary team in one ECNL Competition.
  • Movement Between Age Groups: ECNL players may play in any age group of ECNL Competition within their own club as long as they are age eligible and meet the rest of the eligibility requirements. For example, a 13 year-old U14 player at Club A can play up for a U15 team at Club A.
  • Movement Between League Competitions: Players may not play in multiple programs within any individual ECNL Competition unless agreed to by the Transfer Regulations.
  • Collegiate Players: This probably only applies to U19 but any player that appears on a college roster or game in the fall season is ineligible to play in any ECNL Competition.
  • Player Drops: No ECNL Registered Players may be dropped from the roster unless adhered to by the Transfer Regulations or the player is released.
  • Roster Freeze Date: After May 1st, players cannot be added to an ECNL Roster
  • Trapped U15 Player: An ECNL player that is in 8th grade but who qualifies for the U15 age group, is considered a ‘Trapped U15 Player’. They are eligible to play in games at the U14 ECNL Competition that is played during the player’s high school competition season.
  • Trapped U18/U19 Player: An ECNL player that is in 11th grade but who qualifies for the U19 age group, is considered a ‘Trapped U18/U19 Player’. They are eligible to play in games at the U17 ECNL National Events in the ECNL Regular Season and all divisions of the ECNL Club post-season except for the Champions League.

ECNL Competition Rules

Unless otherwise stated, all ECNL Competitions will be played under the guidance of the FIFA Laws of the Game to promote fair play.

Venue and Time

The game times and venues must be agreed upon by the ECNL clubs and reported to the ECNL Commissioner no later than August 20th (for the fall season) and January 20th (for the spring season).


The home team is responsible for assigning referees.

Substitution Rules – for Club Conference and Regional League games

  • Once a player is substituted in one half of any ECNL Competition, that player may not re-enter in the same half.
  • There’s a max of (7) substitutions in any given half or overtime
  • Regular Season ECNL National Events: Teams have the ability to make an unlimited amount of subs because of the showcasing nature of the events

Yellow Cards in ECNL

Two yellow cards in an ECNL Competition will result in a red card and the rules below apply. There is no yellow card accumulation policy.

Red Cards in ECNL

Any ECNL player that receives a red card during an ECNL Competition will be suspended for the remainder of that game as well as the next game. If applicable, this rule will carry over from one season to the next.

ECNL Points & Standings in Regular Season

Points in Regular Season Games

Teams will be awarded the following points:

  • Win = 3 points
  • Tie = 1 point
  • Loss = 0 points


The final standings for the ECNL season will be determined at the end of the regular season.


If teams are tied in the regular season, the following (in order) will apply as tie-breakers:

  1. Total points earned in head-to-head games
  2. Goal Difference (GD)
  3. Goals For (GF)
  4. Goals Against (GA)
  5. Coin Toss (we hope it doesn’t come to this!)

ECNL Post-Season

If a team qualifies, they must participate in the ECNL Post-Season. Teams will be grouped for the playoffs based on their regular season standings and qualification process.

Teams that win their postseason will become the ECNL Club Champion. Each ECNL Club will earn points towards the overall ECNL Club Championship based on the final position of each ECNL Team in every age group The ECNL Club with the most points is crowned Overall ECNL Club Champion.

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