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NPL Overview

About the National Premier Leagues (NPL)



The NPL was created to elevate and change the competitive youth soccer landscape by extending developmental principles espoused by U.S. Soccer into more age groups and clubs, by linking competition with player development and identification platforms, and by providing meaningful weekly competition culminating in the ENPL Finals.

The NPL program provides a platform:

  • focused on long-term player development;

  • for the country‚Äôs top soccer clubs, allowing consistent, meaningful high-level games appropriately scheduled with higher training-to-game ratios;

  • that allows players to be scouted and evaluated by U.S. Soccer National Staff and Technical Advisors;

  • that is designed and structured by the clubs, based on the needs of the clubs; and 

  • that provides an avenue for qualification for the aligned NPL/ENPL Finals.


The SAPL is part of the NPL nationwide structure, and currently consists of the following elite clubs:

AFC Lightning (GA)Charlotte United Futbol Club (NC)FC Alliance (TN)
Lake Norman SC (NC)Southern Soccer Academy (GA)Tennessee SC (TN)
Triangle United Soccer Association (NC)United Futbol Academy (GA)Wake FC (NC)


1. My child is in the 9U-12U Academy at the moment. How does the NPL program compare?

The Academy program shares many similarities with the NPL program in terms of practice schedules (number of practices, the duration of season, and the year-long commitment for those joining through the May/June tryouts). There are some differences though:

A. Rosters are much more 'concrete' at the 13U and above age groups, in that the majority of players are assigned to defined teams through club-wide open try-outs at a single location for the entire age group and those rosters remain the same through the entire year. While there is still some occasional movement (using the Club Pass system), it is not as commonplace as in Academy where a 'pool' roster (playing moving between teams) is much more typical. 
B. Coaches are assigned to teams and take their individual teams for all practices and games, which may not necessarily be the case in Academy especially if the player pool is large.
C. Given NPL is a regional league involving teams in neighboring states, an occasional overnight hotel stay will be required when playing out-of-state teams.

2. My child is on the Recreational Program. How does the Recreational Program compare with the NPL program?

Aside the from the cost, the Recreational and NPL Programs differ in the following ways:
A. NPL teams are coached by licensed and experienced staff coaches, while the typical Recreational team is often parent-coached.
B. The seasons are typically longer, starting in July and finishing in December in the fall, then starting up again for 13U and 14U teams in February before finishing in late May. 
C. Players have to attend a tryout to join a team and the commitment it a year-long one for those joining through May/June tryouts.
D. Select teams will typically attend additional pre- and post-season tournaments (at an additional cost), while Recreational teams may only play a regular-season schedule unless the coach decides otherwise.

3. How are players assigned to teams during try-outs?

In the Select age groups, try-outs for all players regardless of their SSA location will typically take place at the same place to give all the age group coaches the opportunity to observe all players together, though this may change from year-to-year depending on a variety of circumstances and may not include all SSA locations especially if the locations are outside of metro Atlanta, in which case, separate tryouts may be scheduled. Players are then assigned to teams taking their playing level and geographic location into account, with as many teams as possible being formed in each age group with a roster size of between 14 and 18 being typical depending on age group.  

4. Which location will my child's team practice and play out of?

Given that the club assigns one team in each age group to the NPL league, the practice location will be determined based on the make-up of the roster. Home games are typically scheduled at the SSA Marietta location (Mud Creek/Marathon/Tramore) while away games will require occasional out-of-state travel.

6. My child is on a high school team. Is there a Spring season in NPL? 

Not for the 16U and older age groups. For the 15U age group though, players will typically play a Spring 'friendly' season to allow for the birth-year split between middle-school 8th grade and 9th grade high-school players in the age group. Please contact the age group director for details.

7. How much travel is required?

Given NPL is a regional league involving teams in neighboring states, an occasional overnight hotel stay will be required when playing out-of-state teams.

If you have more questions, please click on 'Contacts' and select 'Program Director' to bring up email and telephone contact information for the appropriate age group director.

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