After two Girls ECNL National Events have wrapped this fall, the first Boys Event of the 2020-21 ECNL season is slated to kick off on Friday.
Also taking place at the Mesa Soccer Complex in Greer, South Carolina, more than 130 teams spanning Under-12 through Under-18/19 age groups are set to compete. While teams traveling to South Carolina are primarily located from the Southeast, teams from Maryland, Indiana, Texas and Kansas will compete.
TopDrawerSoccer is going to provide coverage of the event this weekend. Below is a look at some of the teams to watch from the older age groups.
It’s been a strong fall portion of the schedule for United Futbol Academy in an extremely competitive Southeast Conference. The table toppers lost one of their best players, Asparuh Slavov, to the Atlanta United Academy after he started the fall season with the ECNL side. Sunday’s final match against NCFC Youth Academy should prove to be a tough challenge.
The Mid-Atlantic Conference table-topping sides of South Carolina United FC, Charlotte Independence Pro and Charlotte SA Academy are all jockeying for first place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. NCFC Youth Academy is right behind them, and all four get the chance to face out-of-conference competition and make some noise. Several future Division I players could feature for those squads, with Luke Hille (NC State) and Parker O’Ferral (North Carolina) rostered on NCFC Youth Academy, while goalkeeper Lucas Hatsios anchoring the back line for Charlotte Independence Pro.
Florida teams making the trip at this age group are closer to the start of their regular season. Florida Elite, Tampa Bay United, Florida Kraze and Orlando City aren’t too far off the top of the table in the Conference at this young point of the season.
One of the teams to know at this age group is currently in first place in the Mid-Atlantic Conference, as Charlotte SA Academy has wins in nine of their 11 games during the current campaign. James Kelly is one of the players to know from a group that was winners of eight straight prior to a 1-0 loss suffered in November to CESA. Concorde Fire, Pipeline SC and United Futbol Academy are on the schedule this weekend.
NTH-NASA is comfortably in first place in the Southeast Conference heading to this weekend’s National Event. With the talent pool to draw from in Atlanta, they have a high-powered attack, averaging almost three goals per game in 18 games played this season. Damian Segura is generally at the heart of a lot of what goes well in the final third for NTH. Also making the trip north from Georgia are the likes of Atlanta Fire United, GSA, the aforementioned UFA and two sides from Concorde Fire.
While the top-flight team competes in MLS Next, FC Dallas is sending one of its ECNL sides to South Carolina. It will be interesting to see how the team fares overall, as they have a very good record in Texas Conference action (11-2-1) and are in second place. CESA, Alabama FC and Richmond United are on their schedule.
Three sides from central Virginia are traveling down from Richmond for the weekend, and the team in this age group is off to an unbeaten start in nine games. Seth Mileski and Noe Uwiana have been amongst the goals on a regular basis as a challenging trip loom.
Another opponent of FC Dallas, Alabama FC offers plenty of talent. Kyle Hunnicutt is a clever forward off to a hot start for his high school side, as he travels up from the coast to play with the ECNL squad. Jared Smid, Jack Heaps (son of Birmingham Legion’s Jay Heaps) and Mathias Lieb give the team plenty of quality.
Like the Under-17 age group, Charlotte SA has a pretty talented squad. They’ve yet to lose a game in the conference, conceding just two goals in 11 games. Edwin Sosa was a big goal scorer for the team when it competed in the Dev. Academy, and has carried that over into his time in the ECNL. They open up the weekend with a game against Concorde Fire Platinum on Friday, a matchup between the first-place teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern Conference.
The season wraps for Concorde Fire Platinum with the trip to Greer, kicking off with the aforementioned match with Charlotte. A final day clash with FL Premier FC, which is sandwiched with a game against CESA, is a challenging stretch to the season.
Not many teams are making the drive from Florida to South Carolina in this age group, but FL Premier FC is the exception. Javen Ironside has been a key part of the team’s seven wins from the first seven games, as he’s scored five goals during that stretch. The weekend’s trip is the final slate of games until March, as the clubs take a break to accommodate high school soccer.