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YOUTH SOCCER NEW:GIRLS SOCCER: Nationals to leave Girls Academy and join up with ECNL


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SHELBY TWP., Mich. – Nationals Soccer Club is moving on up.

The Shelby Township-based club recently announced that its highest-level girls soccer club teams will be making the switch from the Girls Academy ranks to the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) later this year.

Nationals SC will begin competition in the ECNL in various age groups for the 2024-25 season. Practices and competition will start in September of this year.

Nationals SC is one of three large club teams in the U.S. which will make the jump to the ECNL for girls soccer. The Colorado Rush (Texas Conference) and Philadelphia Ukrainians (North Atlantic Conference) are the other two clubs making the jump. Nationals SC will participate in the Midwest Conference.

The ECNL features several tiers and boasts of more than 130 clubs across the country.

“It’s time for us to make the move and step up,” said Nationals SC Girls Academy Director of Coaching David Robertson, who will remain the Director of Coaching for the Nationals’ ECNL girls soccer teams. “We were accepted into ECNL and we felt the timing is right. We’re looking forward to the switch and the upcoming seasons.”

The Nationals teams that currently compete in the Girls Academy system will complete the 2023-24 campaign and wrap up the regular season in June before some of its age-group teams will compete in the Girls Academy postseason national tournaments. The GA postseason stage will conclude in July.

“Nationals has enjoyed tremendous success in the GA the last few years and we hope to compete at the highest levels in the ECNL against some of the top clubs in the country,” added Robertson.

Acceptance into the ECNL Girls was based on the competitive performance of each club over the past years and assessment of the markets in which each club was located, as well as to optimize the competition framework within these three ECNL conferences. All three clubs have a history of winning championships at various levels of club soccer and developing talent into both the collegiate and professional levels of the game. Nationals SC was formed in 2016.

All three of the aforementioned clubs will also be joining the ECNL Girls Regional League for other levels of club girls soccer which will fully align these clubs within the ECNL pyramid.

In a recent press release, ECNL Girls Soccer Commissioner Ralph Richards welcomed the three newest additions into the ECNL system.

“Over the past three years, the ECNL has promoted 18 clubs from the ECNL Regional League into the ECNL Girls based on their performance,” said Richards. “This year, looking broadly across the ecosystem, we felt that these three clubs merited being added into the ECNL and would be a limited exception to the ECNL Regional League pathway we have established over the past several years.”

Nationals SC joined the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy (girls soccer only) in 2017 and competed into 2020 when the US Soccer Developmental Academy seized operations for both boys and girls soccer on the youth side in the summer of 2020 during the Covid restrictions. The Girls Academy was formed later that year to absorb most of those clubs from the D.A. system into a restructured system under new management.

The move will give the state of Michigan three club organizations that have migrated from the Girls Academy over to the ECNL in recent years, as the Nationals SC Will join the Michigan Hawks and Midwest United in the ECNL Midwest Conference this fall. Pontiac-based Liverpool FC-Michigan and Sporting United FC also have some ECNL Regional League teams at the 6-7-month levels, but neither of those clubs ever competed in the Girls Academy. The Michigan Jaguars will remain as the only Michigan-based club team to compete in the Girls Academy ranks for the 2024-25 campaign.

The move to the ECNL Midwest Conference for Nationals will see the club bring over two tiers per age group from the Girls Academy. The Nationals-Blue is a 10-month program which does not allow for student-athletes to also compete at the high school, levels, while the Nationals-Gray is the second-tier of high-level club teams that do allow for its players to suit up for their various high school varsity or junior-varsity teams.

The ECNL features three levels of club girls soccer – the ECNL (10-month), ECNL Regional League and pre-ECNL. The ECNL was founded back in 2009 with 40 founding clubs nation-wide and has grown to over 130 clubs across the country.

Have a story suggestion for the Premier Media Group and the Michigan Soccer Network regarding club soccer, high school varsity, amateur soccer, collegiate soccer or professional soccer of teams or players with Michigan ties, contact Communications Specialist/Web and Content Editor/Director of News Dan Stickradt via email at, or call 248-884-1051. Dan Stickradt is a 31-year veteran of the Michigan Media circles and recently joined the staff full time in March of 2024. Want to schedule a broadcast game or live show, contact PMG/MSN Director of Broadcasting Jonathan Turner for availability and pricing at


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