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NPL Overview

About the National Premier Leagues (NPL)



The 12U-19U 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 for member clubs in a single NPL division 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:

2020-21 boys clubs:

Wake FC / Triangle United / Charlotte Independence SC / Wake FC North / SC Surf / GPS Charleston / AFC Lightning / Vestavia SC / SSA / UFA / Tormenta FC

2020-21 girls clubs:

Wake FC / Triangle United / Charlotte Independence SC / Wake FC North / SC Surf AFC Lightning / Chattanooga Red Wolves FC / SSA / UFA / Vestavia SC


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?

Details will be announced in late April/early May regarding the dates, specific locations, and times for the NPL team tryouts. SSA players, as well as players from other clubs are welcome to attend these tryouts if they are interested in playing on the NPL team for their 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) though given that the intent is to have all NPL teams playing against the same opposing club at the same venue and on the same date as the other age group teams in the gender.

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 program 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.

8. 8. How do the NPL and SCCL leagues compare?

NPL and SCCL are both regional leagues involving occasional out-of-state travel ( with the NPL League sitting just above SCCL in terms of competitive level for SSA teams), though the SCCL Premier I, II, and III divisions feature more clubs based in the metro Atlanta area and will likely require less travel.

9. What is the program cost?

For a summary of the fees for all our programs, please click HERE.

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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