In the soccer world if you want to be the best, then you have to train with the best. While a small majority of players might be able to walk-on to college teams, most soccer players start training at an early age and begin building foundational skills through local club and travel teams.
But are some clubs better than others?
Well, technically the answer is yes. As it turns out, there some elite soccer clubs that are notorious for cultivating soccer superstars. Both rigorous and highly selective, these Elite National Team Leagues (ENCL’s) produce more professional players than almost any other soccer program in the nation.
Who exactly are these teams and what notable soccer stars have walked through their doors? Read on for a list of the top 4 most elite club teams in the nation.
San Diego Surf ECNL
It’s no secret that California creates soccer legends. It’s where Shannon Box got her start, alongside Amy Rodriguez, Whitney Engen, Christen Press and even Alex Morgan. Coincidence? Hardly. California has always been on the forefront of new and emerging talent when it comes to women’s soccer.
That’s why it’s no surprise that one of the most elite club teams calls the state it’s home. The San Diego Surf Club helps transform its players not only into stellar athletes, but champions on the field as well.
For the second year in a row, the club was awarded the IMG Top 150 girls recruiting class title. It’s not atypical for players with the San Diego Surf Club to sign college commits years (yes, as in plural) ahead of their own high school graduation.
What makes this club so special? Their mission statement says it all: "A dedication to training youth soccer players to live up to their full potential by teaching skills, strategy, tactics, teamwork and sportsmanship."
Real Colorado ECNL
At 6,000 feet above sea-level, Colorado Soccer clubs train players to be the absolute best. One of the most notable clubs is Real Colorado, a club that includes more than 450 soccer teams all over the state. Players from their teams have moved on to grow their careers on both a college and professional level.
Whatever they’re doing seems to be paying off. Top Drawer Soccer consistently ranks them as one of the Top 25 clubs in the nation with their U17 Girls team ranked #1 in May 2017.
Mallory Pugh, a player for The Washington Spirit and a FIFA U-20 World Cup contender, played for Real Colorado before being signed by Nike. In addition to USWNT U-18 squad members, Rachel Jones and Shae Holmes also played for the elite club.
When it comes to elite clubs in Colorado, there truly is no equivalent.
FC Dallas ECNL
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but does bigger always mean better? In the case of FC Dallas, the saying proves to be true. Not only are they one of the largest clubs in the state, FC Dallas Girls ENCL Program has been described as "One of the most up and coming female soccer programs in the country" by one of the coaches for the SEC.
While the program itself is only seven years old, they have made major strides in the elite club world. According to Top Drawer Soccer, their U-13 team is currently ranked #1 in the nation with their U-16 coming in at #4 and their U-18 ranked as #7.
14 Youth National Team players have walked out the doors of FC Dallas since its inception, including two USWNT U-17 players, Diana Ordonez and Hollyn Torres.
FC Dallas ENCL is continuing to grow its reputation in the elite soccer world. It prides itself on the ability to equip players with the necessary skills for success.
Albertson Soccer Club
East-coast elite teams have always seemed to turn out some of the most influential soccer stars of our generation. Take Albertson Soccer Club in eastern New York, for example. Famous alums include USWNT members, Allie Long and Crystal Dunn, Washington Spirit player Domenica Hodak, USWNT U-20 defender Cari Roccaro and the list goes on.
Albertson Soccer Club is truly a force to be reckoned with. By incorporating fundamentals with specialized techniques, the club helps develop young players into all-star athletes.
Their mission? It’s not just all about winning. By teaching players the value of good sportsmanship and the ability to lose graciously, they are shaping the way the beautiful game is played.