US Youth: Boys NL Conference Playoffs Recap

US Youth: Boys NL Conference Playoffs Recap
by US Youth Soccer
December 6, 2023
Players featured in this article:
y a |  2024
MF | Columbus East FC

Four exciting days of action at the National League Conference Playoffs in Orlando, Fla., saw 142 boys teams across the 14U-19U age groups earn their place in the next stage of national events: National League P.R.O.

The boys’ event took place Dec. 1-4 and represented the first of two consecutive Conference Playoff weekends at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, as the girls teams will follow with games Dec. 8-11.

“It’s really cool because we think we’re the best in our state, and other teams all think they’re the best in their state,” said Landon Michaelis of defending USYS National Champion Utah Celtic FC 08B. “We all get to play each other, and it’s really fun to do — to see who’s the best of the best. It just means we’ve got to play our hardest every game.”

Both defending National Champions — 16U Utah Celtic 08 and 17U La Roca J Milla (UT) — took one step closer to earning a chance to defend their titles with their performances in Orlando.

The Conference Playoffs represent the first of two stages of National League events, which provide every competing team with an opportunity to ultimately advance to the USYS National Championships. The 142 teams that earned advancement to the next stage — National League P.R.O. — will play in one of two P.R.O. events, with 71 teams moving on to play Feb. 23-26 in Tampa, Fla., and 71 teams moving on to play May 4-7 in Oceanside, Calif.

“This game was critical for us as far as moving to the February National League P.R.O. competition,” said Juan Espinoza, coach of 14U Ponys F.C. 2010 (IL) following a win on Monday. “For us to be in that second group, it gives us an advantage to punch one of the tickets [to the National Championships] that are available to us.”

Teams advancing to play at National League P.R.O. will enjoy a truly unique environment in American youth soccer, as the team-based (Conference) qualifiers will compete against the club-based (Elite 64) qualifiers in a singular competition to determine the National League’s representatives at the National Championships.

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