US Youth Soccer & GA Soccer Explained
The US Youth Soccer National League competition is for the nation’s top teams in the 14U, 15U, 16U, 17U, 18U and 19U boys and girls age groups. The National League offers additional exposure to collegiate, professional and U.S. National Team coaches and offers the highest level of competition in the country as each team must earn their place in the league.
The League consists of a regular season schedule vs. Piedmont Conference opponents. The top teams from each division advance to the US Youth Soccer Playoffs. The top teams in each 14U through 18U division also secure a spot to return to National League play the following season.
The NL’s alumni have gone on to prove themselves at the collegiate and professional levels, with former players competing in NCAA Division I, II and III, Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Piedmont Conference is one of 13 conferences that fall under the scope of the US Youth Soccer Leagues Program and operate at a multi-state level—providing high-level competition on a consistent basis at a targeted local level (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and parts of Tennessee).
The Piedmont Conference’s Premier I Division tier offers its teams an opportunity to qualify for the following season’s National League. In addition to providing a pathway to qualifying for the National League, the Piedmont Conference provides teams with a chance to advance to the US Youth Soccer Southern Regional Championships, which are held annually each summer.
The US Youth Soccer Leagues Program provides annual league competitions at the multi-state and national tiers for the highest levels of boys and girls teams in US Youth Soccer.
The multi-state tier of competition is comprised of US Youth Soccer Conferences. The Conference structure debuted in the 2018-19 season, replacing what was previously known as the US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues.
The purpose of the Georgia Premier League is to provide the highest standards for the most competitive match environment possible among the best teams in Georgia Soccer, in preparation for National League play, in terms of quality, organizational structure, and culture of excellence with appropriate alignment for the level number of games through a full season of play. The league’s inaugural season started with the 13U age group and an 11 game Fall season; 12 teams playing each other once with the plan to increase that across all divisions for both boys and girls, in a home/away format, while providing the feeder/pathway into national-level play.
The GPL will provide the ideal transition level for teams moving down from the National League and will create a high-level of competitive matches within the state, in support of high-quality club teams in their goals to play one game each week, avoid long disruptive time gaps of several weeks between games and avoid the time and expense of multiple games per weekend for consecutive weekends (whenever possible).
Additionally, the GPL will be supported by a higher branding impact and will showcase opportunities for teams and clubs that earn the opportunity to participate. The 12U Competitive League is assigned to be the Pre-GPL that will provide the natural developmental step towards the GPL and utilizing the highly successful format.
The purpose of the Pre-Georgia Premier League is to create the most competitive match environment possible, in preparation for the 13U GPL Select seeding for both boys and girls divisions, by identifying the most competitive teams before the transition to Select play and maintaining the principles of the Academy philosophy that have served the Georgia Soccer membership so well. In other words, the state association aims to find that sweet spot, the perfect balance between the clear need for results, and the pressure of the consequence from those results.
At 13U-19U Georgia Soccer offers Select Leagues. Classic league (for boys )has five (5) divisions and Athena league (for girls) has four (4) divisions. A team can start in the lowest division and get promoted all the way to Classic 1 and Athena A divisions based on play.
Most Georgia Soccer clubs offer Academy-level play for ages 9U to 12U. This provides more practice, better coaching, and more competitive games in an environment where they keep score but not records. Academy focuses on player development.
Almost all players start in recreational soccer; some play recreational all their lives. Georgia Soccer has recreational programs for ages 3 to 80.