The ECNL was founded in 2009 by forward-thinking Directors of Coaching across the country who saw a need for change in and special commitment to improving the daily environment for American elite female youth soccer players. These Directors came together and collaborated to build what would become the top female youth development platform in the world.
The ECNL is an independent, non-profit, member-based 501(c)(3) organization, with an independent governance and leadership structure. The ECNL Board of Directors and staff solely governs all programs and platforms.
The Elite Clubs National League, Inc. (“ECNL”) was founded in 2009 to enhance the developmental experience of the female youth soccer players in the United States through:
§ Improving the competitive environment through creation of a true national competitive league with multiple flights;
§ Improving the process for identifying elite female soccer players through a systematic scouting and identification program based on national competitions; and
§ Improving the daily training environment at top female youth soccer clubs through developing best practices and training and organizational guidelines for its member clubs.
The ECNL is sanctioned by US Club Soccer and is sponsored by Nike Soccer.
Expansion and Growth throughout the ECNL
2009-2010: Inaugural ECNL Season
The inaugural ECNL season, August 2009 to July 2010, included 40 of the top girls’ soccer clubs throughout the country, competing in the U15, U16, and U17 age groups.
In its second season, 2010-11, the ECNL grew membership to 52 clubs and expanded to include the U18 age group. The ECNL schedule expanded to include a regional competition to supplement the existing ECNL National Showcase Events.
SLSG MO ECNL Finished 48th out of 52 Clubs
In the third season, 2011-12, the ECNL again expanded to include the nation’s elite 66 female soccer clubs, an enhanced scouting and player identification structure, accessible club administrative, coaching, and scouting education opportunities, and an improved season structure that includes the U14 age group.
SLSG MO ECNL Finished 46th out of 66 Clubs
In the fourth season of the ECNL, the league increased to 73 clubs. Conference play became the dominant portion of the ECNL schedule, with conference results determining qualification for the ECNL post-season.
SLSG MO ECNL Finished 34th out of 73 Clubs
In the fifth season, 2013-14, the ECNL experienced a small expansion, with only 3 clubs added to bring the total number of ECNL member clubs to 76.
SLSG MO ECNL Finished 45th out of 76 Clubs
In the sixth season, 2014-15, the competition structure changed with the additions of the Showcase Cup, rounding out the ECNL Playoffs with three tiers: Champions League, North American Cup, and Showcase Cup.
SLSG MO ECNL Finished 20th out of 77 Clubs
In the seventh season, 2015-16, the ECNL expanded to 79 member clubs, with limited conference re-alignment.
SLSG MO ECNL Finished 44th out of 79 Clubs
In the eighth season, 2016-17, the ECNL expanded to 84 member clubs, with limited conference re-alignment.
SLSG MO ECNL Finished 16th out of 84 Clubs
In the ninth season, 2017-2018, The ECNL club membership went to 80 clubs with several conference re-alignments and the addition of adding in the U13 age group.