The ECNL Player Identification Program is intended to provide a better, more efficient and streamlined process for identifying players with the potential to play with the US Soccer Youth National Teams. The ECNL Player ID Program identifies the top players in the ECNL and then provides opportunities for these players to be seen and trained by U.S. Soccer National Team staff. The ECNL Player ID Program was created under 4 key principles:
By scouting players in their regular team environment, while they are competing against the best players in the country, the ECNL Player ID Program increases opportunities for identified players at no additional cost to the players. The program also does not add congestion to the player calendar by requiring multiple levels of “try-outs” and other competitions to identify players.
The ECNL Player Identification Platform includes a scouting network of over 150 scouts. These scouts include coaches from member clubs of the ECNL as well as independent coaches, and some of the country’s best youth club coaches, coaches with former experience with US Soccer National Teams, and coaches from top Division I, II, and III colleges. The ECNL scouting staff is one of the largest, most qualified, and most comprehensive scouting networks for female players in the country. ECNL scouts are assigned to observe and analyze ECNL games at each ECNL National Showcase Event. A standardized evaluation program has been established by the ECNL for these scouts whereby identified players will be evaluated on a variety of technical, tactical, physical, and psychological characteristics based upon their performances. The performance of identified players will be tracked over time through a secure, online database allowing longitudinal tracking of the players.
Since its inception, the role of the ECNL within US Soccer has grown substantially. Currently the vast majority of identified USYNT pool participants and team members are based out of ECNL clubs. With over THIRTY alumni having been selected to US Youth National Teams, the path to representing your country is with Challenge ECNL.
ECNL players in USWNT camps in 2012:
U14 Girls National Pool - May 2012 Camp: 30 ECNL players out of 48
U15 Girls National Team - June 2012 Camp: 17 ECNL players out of 24
U17 Girls National Team - June 2012 Camp: 23 ECNL players out of 24
U18 Girls National Team - June 2012 Camp: 19 ECNL players out of 24
US Soccer Technical Director April Heinrichs has recognized the value the ECNL plays in helping US Soccer identify players and improve the game:
“A fun thing about coming back to U.S. Soccer is that there are so many important partners. These partners are critical for our success. We talk about how vital partners are to us. We only have our (national team) players one week out of so many weeks depending on the time of year and the cycle and the specific youth national team. As critical as we think our programming is, we see a huge shot in the arm in their performance when we work with them, but it doesn’t take much to remind ourselves that their daily development is back at home. We’re depending on those coaches for us to have players who can play 90 minutes and who are good soccer players. In that regard, ECNL has been a great partner for us. They are very open to feedback from us and our interaction with scouting players, coaching education initiatives and that kind of thing. They basically took a great model (Development Academy) and mirrored it, without any of the resources that U.S. Soccer puts toward the DA. They’ve mirrored it with some good leaders who believed it was the right thing to do, and in a short time they’ve built it into something very good to compete in."
ECNL Player Development Program is in conjunction with US Club Soccer’s id2 Player Development Programs (ECNL PDP). ECNL PDP events provide an opportunity for the top players within every ECNL Conference to play with and against the best players within their region at multiple age groups, and to attend presentations from leading coaches or experts in elite athlete development. ECNL PDPs are created with three primary goals:
(i) Identify the top players within each ECNL Conference at multiple age groups;
(ii) Provide a developmental experience; and
(iii) Recognize and reward individual performance and achievement.
Each year, there will be approximately ten such programs taking place across the country, with every ECNL Club assigned to one either based upon their conference or their geographic location. ECNL PDPs will bring together the top 60 players within the conference or geographic region for a weekend of training, competition, and education.
Players are selected for the ECNL PDPs based on their performance in ECNL competitions and recommendations from coaches. Each ECNL PDP will occur over two days and will include three training sessions/matches and a presentation for the players. The ECNL will be covering the costs of participation in the ECNL PDP, excluding travel costs for participating players.
Based upon their performance in ECNL competitions and in the ECNL PDPs over the course of the year, players may be invited to participate in the ECNL/id2 National Training Camp.