The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) and FC Dallas Youth followed up their announcement from last Thursday – that FCD Youth Girls would be joining the ECNL – with an announcement today that FCD Youth Boys would be joining the league as well.
While we certainly welcome the participation of the FCD boys program in the ECNL, the announcement left us a little confused. Is FCD Pemmier moving from the USYS National League to ECNL? Is FCD Youth creating a new ECNL team? Is the FCD Academy bailing on the MLS Academy league?
We reached out to FC Dallas for clarification as to what teams will play in which league and the answer turns out to be… “That’s yet to be determined.”
There is still a lot of chaos in the highest levels of youth soccer after the US Development Academy fell apart – The MLS Academy, for example, is little more than a concept announcement – and some of these leagues are still be formed.
So FC Dallas will be fielding teams in the ECNL, we just don’t know which ones.
The initial discussion of the MLS Academy only U15, U17, and U19 were mentioned (and maybe not even U19). So certainty at the U14 and down FCD needed a place for the Academy teams to play…. this ECNL move could certainly fit that bill.
There is also some talk the MLS Academy League may only be 15 games a season, which would certainly mean FCD needs an additional place for their Academy teams to play to reach their normal 30+ games.
So it’s all still a mess and is getting a little complicated. Perhaps it may even mean a change in the FC Dallas overall structure.
So here’s a quick look at the current FCD structure.
The FC Dallas Current Structure
On the boys’ side, the system starts U7s and runs through the professional MLS team. There are a couple of minor differences on the girls’ side, most notably the current lack of a pro/adult team which means their program ends after U19.
I’ll try and indicate the differences where I can.
This is self-exploratory. FC Dallas plays in Major League Soccer, the top tier of professional soccer in the United States. FCD also operates North Texas Soccer Club in the USL League One – which is in the third tier of professional soccer in the United States – as a professional development team.
FC Dallas can field their U17 and U19 Academy players in USL-1 with North Texas SC without the player losing their amateur status. This is a key development path for potential future professionals.
On the women’s side, there is no longer a professional team. FCD used to have a U23 (semi-pro?) team called FCD Women that was run by FCD Youth and played in the WPSL, but that ended prior to the 2020 season.
The top tier of FC Dallas youth system.
FCD operates one team at the U13, U14, U15, U17, and U19 level for both boys and girls with an additional two u12 Academy teams for boys. These teams sit atop the pyramid between the pro level and FC Dallas Youth.
The boys’ Academy teams are free to players but the girls’ Academy teams remain pay-to-pay. Until this year both boys and girls played in the US Development Academy.
Going forward in 2020 after the death of the USDA, the boys and girls will be playing in different leagues and potentially two leagues at the same time.
The boys’ Academy teams will, we expect, be taking part in the MLS Academy League. While the details aren’t final, as I said above initial talking points only mentioned U15, U17, and possibly U19.
On the girls’ side, the former clubs of the Southwest Division of the DA created a new “Academy Division” in the Developmental Player League (DPL), a league some other FCD teams were already playing in. Originally set up to supplement the Academy level teams, this DPL league will now include the Academy teams.
What we don’t know is if the FCD Boys and Girls Academy teams will play in the ECNL in addition to the MLS Academy League and the DPL, or an MLS/Liga MX Youth set up, or something else.
Side note: I don’t know a lot about their scholarship program specifically, but FCD does have ways to assist some players with costs in the pay-to-play system.
FC Dallas Youth
According to FC Dallas, FCD Youth has “2,500 boys & girls ages U7 through U19. Players compete on over 140 Select teams and 75 Junior teams.” This setup includes many layers with only a couple of important distinctions.
FC Dallas Premier
Premier is the top tier of FC Dallas Youth Select program, which as mentioned is pay-to-play. These are the elite select teams that have been playing in the USYS National League on the boys’ side and the DPL on the girls’ side. There is one team per age bracket just like the Academy sides: U12, U13, U14, U15, U17, and U19.
Both boys and girls premier could be moving to the ECNL going forward… or not. Stay tuned.
FC Dallas Select
These clubs form the bulk of the clubs in the FCD Youth set up. They play at all levels through the MetroPlex. Some of their best sides compete in USYS National Leagues, the ECNL, and the DPL. Select teams also play in divisions I, II, and III in the Classic League and the Lake Highlands Girls Classic League, as well as in Plano.
You can find a list of the myriad of teams at the FCD Select level here.
FC Dallas Juniors
FCD Juniors is for players between U7 to U10 located throughout the Dallas area. Sometimes referred to as “Pre-Select.” In theory, the Juniors program “focuses primarily on individual skill development.”
Junior teams play in FCD Liga, SDL, PSA, and CAL.
FCD Youth Affiliates
FCD Youth has affiliate programs in the US and Internationally. Here’s FCD’s blub on what these relationships entail.
The program provides organizations with insider access to our professional team and coaching staff, player development model, training methodology, curriculum, website, camps, clinics, and college program. The Program aims to provide significant access to the FCD coaches and players while also offering unique ticket packages, on-site support, uniform packages, camp and training programs, tournament registration discounts, and travel opportunities.FC Dallas
FCD currently lists 11 affiliates, some of whom – like El Paso – already provide players to the FCD Academy. I have heard talk of two other international Academies that may be joining the FCD system in the future but they haven’t been officially announced yet.
FC Dallas Alamo Area (aka San Antonio)
FC Dallas Central Arkansas
FC Dallas East Texas (Tyler)
FC Dallas El Paso
FC Dallas Emerald Coast (Florida)
FC Dallas Laredo
FC Dallas Monterrey
FC Dallas Puerto Rico
FC Dallas Rio Grande Valley
FC Dallas Texoma
FC Dallas West Texas (Abilene, Lubbock, Midland)