The ECNL "All In Thread"

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by VolklP19, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    upper left repped this.
  2. upper left

    upper left Member

    Crystal Palace
    Jan 27, 2018
    I think you missed a few, but the most interesting/telling one might be in the northwest. The nwsl club Reign is moving from Seattle to Tacoma. They started a GDA club with help from Seattle United and Eastside FC.
    Seattle United ditched them last year and is in ECNL. Eastside recently announced they too are abandoning Reign, and have been invited to join ECNL.
    NWSL clubs not supporting / nor able to compete in GDA is a bad sign for GDA.

    Eagles move is interesting because they are just outside LA, arguably GDA's strongest location.
  3. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Any ECNL clubs leaving for the GDA with exception of year one?
  4. illinisoccer

    illinisoccer Member

    Aug 15, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I heard there will be 6 major clubs going All In with ECNL from the GDA
  5. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    That's pretty significant news - especially if they are larger clubs.

    TopHat, Indiana Fire maybe some from So Cal?
  6. upper left

    upper left Member

    Crystal Palace
    Jan 27, 2018
    Not sure Indiana Fire is one that moves the needle. They dropped out of GDA last year after players had abandon the club in the fall to play high school. GDA wasn't a good fit. I'm guessing they asked to get back into ECNL, but with soccer a fall sport in Indiana they are less attractive to add back to the midwest division.

    Top Hat is probably negotiating with GDA to realign divisions so they can play the team's in NC more often and stop wasting their time traveling to south Florida four times a year to win every game 8-nil. They are also probably negotiating with ecnl to get two teams per age if they come back, like Concorde Fire did.

    All the other rumors circulating are about teams in tx and the sw divisions. Solar, Real Colorado, Legends, and Blues. I can't imagine they all flip this year... especially when GDA doesn't suck in TX and SoCal the way ot does everywhere else. But if those regions do start to roll over, look out.
  7. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    I completely forgot about Indiana Fire :rolleyes: on me!
  8. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    #8 VolklP19, Mar 27, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
    Just looking at ECNL clubs - the Ohio Valley has a ton of Ohio clubs. Couldn't that be an argument for another ECNL Illinois club?

    At some point wouldn't the Eclipse mafia want to open the books and allow another club in?

    Looking at the GDA...

    MID America is very weak - along with the Ohio Valley, ECNL is stronger.
    NORTHEAST - hands down ECNL is stronger.
    NORTHWEST & ATLANTIC - looks like ECNL has the advantage as well.
    SOUTHEAST - I do not know enough about many of these clubs.
    FRONTIER - Close but I think ECNL may tip the scales.
    SOUTHWEST - GDA is the strongest.
  9. SpiceBoy

    SpiceBoy Member

    United States
    Aug 2, 2017
    I do not agree that mid America GDA is very weak. The top of Midwest ECNL is stronger because of eclipse and hawks. gallegher mo is also pretty strong, but after that you have weaker clubs and eclipses “B” teams. The bottom of GDA mid America has shattuck but the bottom of Midwest ecnl has 5 shattucks.
    Other than Stattuck (and Sockers who haven’t played usys in many years) the mid America GDA is full of teams that where MRL P1 and National league, with 3 or 4 past USYS national champions.
    I would say simply because of eclipse and hawks ecnl has the edge over GDA in Midwest but in my opinion with the larger number of weak teams at the bottom of ecnl I do not think the advantage is that great.
  10. Toe Poke

    Toe Poke Member

    Manchester United
    United States
    Dec 11, 2018
    I will start by admitting a bias for DA over ECNL for many reasons and do think that the DA is stronger. And don’t think it is even close.

    If you go back to when the GDA was formed (and I may be off by 1 or 2 here), 38 ECNL clubs moved their top team into the DA. Then all the NWSL clubs formed a DA except for the Red Stars (bc of the Eclipse connection), and many Prem 1 teams combined with other clubs. For example in the Midwest, Nationals Union was formed with the merger of PSG, FC Nova, Gators FC, PSG Select, Waza FC East / North / TriCities. Cincinnati United was formed by Cincinnati Cup and Kings Hammer. So the non-ECNL and NWSL clubs that joined strengthened their player base (and supposedly coaching) when they moved into the GDA.

    ECNL then went on a replacement binge so that they still had a league, but it has been watered down. As Eclipse parents have told me at several age groups, they have only had 2 or 3 good games this year. And they don’t know what the spring will bring bc only Eclipse and Hawks top teams have committed to year round so they will have to go on the hunt for showcases to play in with no league games in the spring.

    Admittedly having the GDA lose 6 teams after last year and possibly 6 more this year will hurt, But that pales in comparison to the exodus from the ECNL. And GDA has added teams.
  11. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Hmmm "exodus from the ECNL" sounds a lot like we hate it - it sucks so we are leaving.

    I don't think that's accurate.

    There were multiple reasons those clubs jumped - none of which was a lack of college exposure and promotions to NWSL for which they exceeded 80% plus in both categories for graduating seniors year after year and continue to do so today.

    There was some strong arming from DA for clubs with boys DA to move to the GDA and other activities involved along with heavy marketing and reduced costs which brought those clubs over as well.

    I would say the "All In" movement from the ECNL end is a more likely exodus - "Hey we tried your product - don't like it so we are going back".

    Realistically they are 2 seperate platforms IMO.

    ECNL needs to lower costs and pull back on the mandatory tourneys.

    DA has to realize that what they are demanding from players (girls) in order to keep pace with the rest of the world, only includes about 3% of girls in organized soccer. It's going to take some time too even see if that will work. I don't think the "national path" is a viable marketing tool. Nor do I think that most parents are willing to comply with the demands that the DA offers or are even thinking of a "national path". That's like me saying my kid is going to be the next Michael Schumacher!

    Frustration is growing amongst some GDA clubs here and there. Some have left and others (as mentioned) are considering bolting from GDA. This week I was with a staff coach/DOC of one of the big clubs. We discussed this in great length and it appears there are suggestions that FCU may drop GDA and focus on MRL for the girls side. I suppose if Eclipse North routes a good deal of their players - that may help to make that decision for them.

    The biggest problem facing GDA are these clubs leaving. Thats more travel for teams like Sockers and others which mean more $$$ that parents have to shell out. Like the ECNL, GDA may start handing out DA licenses to clubs just to mitigate those costs.

    Two watered down leagues from top to bottom - welcome to girls soccer!
  12. Toe Poke

    Toe Poke Member

    Manchester United
    United States
    Dec 11, 2018
    I agree with your comments and conclusion...two watered down leagues.

    I think ECNL is trying to make themselves NOT the GDA in order to be relevant. I think they have to be careful bc if they admit too many clubs and everyone can play high school then they look more and more like the USYS National League. And since USYS is larger than ECNL can they surpass them with their team-based rather than club-based approach? And promotion - relegation as part of their platform. With a little better marketing from USYS there could be 3 platforms competing for the top spot.

    GDA moved too quickly to copy the boys DA. I understand why - - with Germany, France, Japan, etc. now producing more technical players than us, US Soccer was looking to upgrade the training platform. But the commitment they are looking for is a turn off for some clubs. I don’t think it is unreasonable as almost all girls (and boys) sports that compete internationally require year-round commitment by middle school or younger (tennis, gymnastics, swimming, etc). With a few tweaks to the platform and rules they would not have the defections and could make the league better.
  13. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    #13 VolklP19, Mar 29, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2019
    Look at club hockey and how nationally they are regulating leagues - you cannot just start your own club unless you provide a plan, have the resources and more so. That has led to less clubs and an adverse effect of existing clubs increasing costs. But it is a start as we have way too many people starting clubs, way too many clubs with rec coaches and few resources/overall plan.

    Using IWSL as an example, if USY decided to kill the D divisions and provide for real resources to improve rec play that would be a start. Put a cap/matrix on C and B teams in terms of what a club can charge parents. Eliminate A/B and Club Open. Mandate training for clubs who want to promote teams to B and A. Push A teams to MRL Qualifiers - First Div to Prem and then the top 3 of Prem are eligible to join ECNL as a team - not necessarily as a club.

    Leave the DA to pick the 1% of top ECNL players from thereafter.

    Ultimately we need a pyramid that is understandable to parents. They simply do not have a clue what is happening. You have A/B players hanging on - hoping that "Maybe next year I will make DA". Parents who spend so much time and money chasing that dream who have never seen a FC Stars or Slammers team play - or in our case, maybe a Hawks game. They have no idea how far they are from making that level of play - or at least any play that moves the needle.

    Then you have the watered down effect - where even if you make that DA team - using the 2004 Sockers DA team as an example, you'd be better off playing at Galaxy, Team Chicago, CSA, Road Runners, an Eclipse MRL team and a wad of other non DA teams that would toast that group.

    But hey - that's a pretty cool badge to have on a shirt right?

    System is grossly broke - and it's only got worse and worse IMO.
  14. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Looking at YSR... It would appear that the top 20 teams in Reg 2 are spread out with ECNL and MRL carrying the load. Toe I negelected to consider US National Leagues in my former comment but it would be nice to figure out how MRL/Nat/ECNL can be part more a pyramid that makes better sense. Sort of odd that you have more MRL teams fairing better (in this case at least).

    And yes we all know ranking sites blow but of any, YSR is the closer then others.

    GDA Teams = 4
    NATIONALS (MI) [52]

    ECNL Teams = 7
    FC PRIDE SC ELITE (IN) [117]

    MRL Teams = 5

    US National League = 4
    TOTAL FA ELITE (OS) [64]
  15. SpiceBoy

    SpiceBoy Member

    United States
    Aug 2, 2017
    We agree on many things but I think we are on opposite ends when it comes to DA.

    Team Chicago 04 likely would beat Sockers 04,but saying the rest would "toast" Sockers 04 is doubtful. Last weekend Sockers 04 beat Cincinnati Development Academy's "A" team. CDA's "B" team plays in Great Lakes Division P1 (MRL spring division). National and Jaguars 04 "B" teams play MRL P1. Jaguar's 04 DA team was the USYS national championship team last summer before they moved to DA. They are now 4th place of 8 teams in the Mid-America DA conference. Socker's are playing against top teams even if they are losing more than winning but still winning a few. And including CSA 04 with Team Chicago and Galaxy? CSA did not even make it to State Cup quarterfinals but FC United's 04 "B" and "C" teams both did. (Sorry to pick on CSA;, I think they have a lot of future potential but in my opinion they just are not at that "top club' level yet.)
    jsScott repped this.
  16. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    We saw their games in Elmhurst recently while I was visiting a friend and we were very disapointed. The quality of games was poor.

    Not sure why...

    That said, there are many DA (and ECNL) teams at the low end who would get pasted by MRL and other teams. I think this one happens to be one of those teams - you may care to disagree but even the club knows they are struggling for talent at the 04/05 levels. My point however goes towards the mess of soccer and how parents just assume that when they reach these levels - again ECNL included, that it's the best of the best - when that's clearly not the case.

    That needs to be fixed in order to produce better soccer players IMO.
  17. illinisoccer

    illinisoccer Member

    Aug 15, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Unfortunately youth sports in this country are big business. Nothing is going to change. It will only get worse. There is a lawsuit in Illinois courts fighting the monopoly of youth hockey by AHAI and US Hockey.
    bigredfutbol repped this.
  18. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Yeah - my guy was referencing part of that.

    And unfortunately I think you are right.
  19. upper left

    upper left Member

    Crystal Palace
    Jan 27, 2018
    ECNL/GDA civil war cheat sheet:

    TDS recently posted all the GNT 2018 Training Center call ups.

    Filtering out the clubs that had four or more call-ups in 2018 is as good as any way to generate a list of the ~20 'best' clubs across the country. The list also serves as a useful primer for how GDA and ECNL stack up, and a watch list for potential movement this spring. Hopefully there aren't too many errors.

    GDA* Seattle Reign 6
    GDA* NYCFC 5
    Both* Crossfire 4
    These three clubs have been in the news lately. NYCFC recently announced they are switching to ECNL. Crossfire also announced they are leaving GDA and going All-In with ECNL. Seattle Reign has lost its two Seattle based affiliates, and is moving to Tacoma. There is some chatter that they may bail on GDA, as both affiliates are/will be in ECNL.

    GDA NTH Tophat 13
    GDA Legends FC 6
    GDA Beach FC (CA) 5
    GDA San Diego Surf 5
    GDA SC Del Sol 4
    GDA WCFC / OC Surf 4
    These are the top clubs currently committed to GDA. Of them, Tophat is the bellweather. Staying in GDA helps them differentiate from local rival Concorde Fire, and they never have to worry about playing each other. OTOH, the SE division in GDA sucks and NTH is said to be complaining about having to travel to SoFL. They have a good argument to get two teams at each age if they flip to ECNL, but they also have a ton of leverage with USSF right now too. Legends has some rumors floating. SC Del Sol and all Surf clubs seem committed to GDA as far as I can tell.

    ECNL SJ Earthquakes 10
    ECNL Concorde Fire 7
    ECNL Eclipse Select SC 5
    ECNL FC Stars 5
    ECNL Internationals SC 5
    ECNL PDA 5
    ECNL LAFC Slammers 4
    ECNL Richmond United 4
    I haven't heard any rumors about any of these clubs flipping to GDA.

    Both So Cal Blues 9
    Both Solar SC 7
    Both Real Colorado 6
    Both FC Dallas Youth 4
    Both NCFC / NC Courage 4
    There is some talk that clubs currently in both leagues are being asked by ECNL to pick one or the other, especially if the ECNL side of the club is struggling. I think So Cal Blues put their best at different ages in different leagues, so they can probably stay in both if they want. If they choose one or the other, it'll be big news. NC and Solar (I think) have strong ties to ECNL management, so both could probably get the two teams per age if they really held their breath. Dallas, CO, and Solar all seem to put their better players in GDA, and I believe that is where the threats (likely hollow) from ECNL originate.

    Hopefully we might get some eyes from around the country to chime in here and correct my mistakes or add to the speculation.
  20. Toe Poke

    Toe Poke Member

    Manchester United
    United States
    Dec 11, 2018
    A lot of information to digest. Thanks.

    I agree that Dallas, CO and Solar put their best in GDA. I believe So Cal does also. Not sure about the NC clubs.

    However if you look at the Midwest and don’t filter for the clubs with 4 or more the discrepancy between ECNL and GDA changes. And we know that the Midwest was hit the hardest last year with defections to the ECNL by Eclipse and Hawks. (6 teams left GDA after 2018 and 3 of them were Midwest).

    Of the girls who received call-ups in 2018, 5 were lost to graduation (Internationals - 4 / Eclipse - 1). So all ECNL girls which makes sense as the older ones who are used to playing HS would not have wanted to stop.

    So I think that leaves...
    Eclipse - 4
    Hawks - 3
    Internationals - 1

    Cincinnati - 3
    FCU - 2
    Sockers - 1
    Cleveland - 1

    And 2 of the Eclipse girls are now listed on the Sockers GDA roster so of girls who were called up in 2018 and are now still in HS it is ECNL - 6 and GDA - 9 if those 2 did make the change from Eclipse to Sockers.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out - clubs changing leagues and girls changing clubs. But it is also clear that the vast majority of the YNT call-ups are from these 2 leagues and not USYS.
  21. jsScott

    jsScott New Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    Arsenal FC
    The overriding question really comes down to whether your kid wants to play college soccer.

    First, I think it's unfortunate that any child has to think about this question before they are even in high school.

    Second, while it certainly has been demonstrated that players can get D1 college offers while playing for clubs outside of DA or ECNL, these platforms are the two most viable pathways. College coaches have limited time and travel budgets to attend games and showcases. Not playing in either DA or ECNL makes the recruiting process more difficult.

    Third, there is a lot of debate here about whether the local and regional DA/ECNL clubs have better teams than the stronger USYS/MRL teams. It doesn't matter. College coaches recruit good players, not good teams. Players have to be seen to be recruited. Going to on-campus ID sessions is worthwhile, but it's time-consuming and costly for parents. And even if the coaches like what they see at their hosted ID sessions, they still want to see prospects playing with their own clubs to see how they perform.

    Fourth, don't evaluate the relative strength of a particular DA/ECNL team until U15 or U16. That's when the influx of new talent and training gains really kick-in. For example, the Sockers U15 GDA team is much improved from last year. It takes time.
    Regista repped this.
  22. upper left

    upper left Member

    Crystal Palace
    Jan 27, 2018
    Pretty interesting article from Soccer America. Nothing that new, but finally a DOC willing to speak publicly and give a glimpse into some of the politics. Sounds like there will probably be news coming out of Colorado in the coming days.


    Lorne Donaldson on how the ECNL vs. Development Academy turf war has created a 'toxic environment'
    Lorne Donaldson is the Executive Director of Coaching of Real Colorado, one of the few clubs that compete in both the girls ECNL and the girls U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Real Colorado's rate of sending players into the U.S. national team program ranks it among the top clubs in the nation. Donaldson also serves as assistant coach to Hue Menzies of the Jamaican women's national team, which will be making its first Women's World Cup appearance this summer.

    SOCCER AMERICA: Your club, Real Colorado, is one of a handful that fields teams in both the ECNL, launched in 2009, and the Girls U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which started in 2017 and is now in its second season. How do you manage both?

    LORNE DONALDSON: I think we have a good staff and our management is good. We really have no problem. We have the fields to do it. And we have the players because the kids want to play for us because it’s a good environment.

    We have a good pool of players, and it’s going to get better if they allow us to stay in both leagues. But who knows what’s going to happen now? I think there are going to be some decisions coming up.

    SA: You may not continue fielding teams in both the Girls DA and the ECNL?

    LORNE DONALDSON: The ECNL wanted us to get out of [the Development Academy]. There are some clubs already out of the ECNL. They have been kicked out.

    The ECNL thinks that at the clubs that play both ECNL and DA, your top players are playing in the DA and the second-string players are playing in the ECNL. They [the ECNL] want all the top players. The ECNL is saying, you can’t do both. You can just do one.

    SA: So what do you think will happen next season (2019-20)?

    LORNE DONALDSON: I don’t know yet for sure if we’re going to be in both. Three or four days ago, I told them if we come to the ECNL, we want two teams [in each age group]. They have to go and discuss it.

    SA: Because if you leave the Girls DA, about half the Real Colorado players who now play in the Girls DA and ECNL will no longer be playing in one of the nation’s elite girls leagues?

    LORNE DONALDSON: Yes. If we're only going to play ECNL, we can’t just take one team. It doesn’t make any sense. We would like to see both teams in if we’re going to do it. We have the environment to do it. But that’s a discussion with the ECNL.

    SA: And if it comes down to making a choice between the two?

    LORNE DONALDSON: Then most likely we would stay in the DA. We will lose our ECNL group.

    SA: As it is now, for the last two seasons, how is it decided which Real Colorado girls play in the DA and which play in the ECNL?

    LORNE DONALDSON: I’m not going to try to sugarcoat. Most of the better players wanted to play in the DA. But there are some very good players, and a few top players, who decided they wanted to play ECNL because they wanted to also play for their high school.

    And there are DA players who still want to play high school. They still talk about it and they want to play.

    [Editor’s note: U.S. Soccer does not allow DA players to play high school soccer.]

    SA: So an advantage of being a club with both DA and ECNL teams is that players have a choice, and the ones who want to play high school still have access to high-level club competition …

    LORNE DONALDSON: Yeah. It’s actually created an environment for us where you can service people better. But again, how long is it going to last?

    It’s OK to have two leagues, but you got to try and get them under the same umbrella and moving in the same direction. If you have them under the same umbrella, and the guys are working together, and you cross-play, and you do stuff like that, then the soccer is going to be good again. But right now, it’s a sad state of affairs.

    SA: Instead it's been a turf war?

    LORNE DONALDSON: I think what has been created with the ECNL and the DA is a toxic environment for these kids. It’s actually no fun right now. The game is no fun.

    We haven’t changed anything at our club that we were doing five or six years ago. We’re still doing it the same way, but there seems to be a lot conflict between the leagues. It’s on the top. And they can’t work it out.

    It’s created a very poor environment if you look across the spectrum, across the board. A lot of fussing. People are mad at each other.

    SA: Some of the top girls clubs in the nation are split between the two leagues, so they don’t play each other anymore …

    LORNE DONALDSON: Our top teams used to go play teams like the Slammers, PDA, Michigan Hawks, Stars of Massachusetts and Eclipse [which play in the ECNL]. Those were great games. Those are the games people want to see. When you throw the best games out, it’s no longer any fun. There has to be a way for the top clubs to play each other.

    SA: That reminds me of a complaint I heard from a DA coach who told me he can’t play his very strong neighbor club because it’s ECNL, and instead travels hours to play a weaker club. It doesn’t seem too complicated to allow those teams to play each other. Why doesn’t that happen?

    LORNE DONALDSON: Ego. And everyone wants to be the top dog. And both groups think their league is better. And they don’t realize that they’re killing the game and driving kids away. There are kids who are turned off from the game because of this stuff. We have to get back to where kids will enjoy the game.

    And one league has a lot of restrictions.

    SA: The DA?

    LORNE DONALDSON: The DA. You’re not supposed to manage the club the way you used manage it even though you’re smarter than the people who are making the rules.

    Most of the people making the rules have never run a club in their lives. But they’re making the rules that a lot of times don’t make sense.

    SA: Such as?

    LORNE DONALDSON: The biggest one is the high school [ban]. You tell me why a kid can’t play high school soccer? If they still want to go play high school and be a part of that, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    We have a lot of kids who, when they go play high school, they come back better and more confident because they’ve played against bigger, faster players. They get more playing time.

    Leave it up to the clubs to figure it out. Our top-level players, if they don’t choose to play high school, they train with the boys. The environment is already there for the elite players. The top players, going back to Mia Hamm, they could play high school.

    [Editor's note: Mallory Pugh played high school soccer while playing club for Real Colorado.]
    chch, bigredfutbol and illinisoccer repped this.
  23. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The ban on HS soccer is so shortsighted. We need MORE of a soccer culture in this country, and telling some of the best youth players than they cannot play for their school in front of their peers doesn't help address that.
    chch repped this.
  24. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Yeah but the DA won't budge on that. GDA It's the answer to a question no one asked. Short of mandatory tourneys and cost, had this article been written before GDA, LD likely would have had mostly positive attributes to offer about the platform.
  25. upper left

    upper left Member

    Crystal Palace
    Jan 27, 2018

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