The US Youth Soccer National Championships came to an exciting conclusion on Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., as USYS National League teams enjoyed a very strong showing — claiming 12 of a possible 14 titles across all age groups.
National League P.R.O. proved to be an excellent indication of what was to come at the National Championships. Five of the National Champions also finished in first place in National League P.R.O., and two National title-winners finished in second place in National League P.R.O.
The depth of the National League Conferences was also evident based on the results in Orlando, as four conference winners claimed National Championships, while second-place (3), third-place (1) and fourth-place (1) conference teams ended their weeks by lifting up championship trophies.
Take a quick look at the path to the National title for each of the National League sides…
Columbus United G10 Lions (OH) finished in first place in the Great Lakes Conference, thanks to a win over second-place BVBIA Pittsburgh. The Ohio side finished 6-1-1 with 19 points — the same as BVB — but used the head-to-head win to claim the top spot in the standings. At the Midwest Regional Championships, Columbus won its group with a 2-0-1 record and capped a strong tournament with a 4-0 win in the final.
Two shutout victories to start its week at the National Championships helped Columbus clinch a spot in the final. Its last group play game resulted in a tie against Frontier Conference winner Solar 11G Shepard, in what was a preview of the final. When the two met in the championship game, Columbus continued with its strong defensive play to record its fourth shutout in Orlando. The Ohio side generated a pair of late goals to secure the 2-0 victory and claim the 13U Girls National Championship.
Trips to the mainland resulted in historic success for FC Hawaii 09G Red (HI) during the 2022-23 season. The journey began with an undefeated run through the Desert Conference, which saw FC Hawaii finish in first place. The Hawaiians won six games and tied once over two events to win the conference and secure a spot at the Far West Regionals. FC Hawaii started Regionals with four decisive victories before grinding out one-goal games in the semis and finals to win the regional title.
At Nationals, FC Hawaii drew, 1-1, in its opening game before securing a 1-0 victory on the second day of play. In a must-win third group game, Hawaii shut out Keystone FC Premier 09G to jump to the top of the group and secure a semifinal berth. The team’s offensive prowess proved to be the deciding factor in the next to games, as it secured 4-1 and 3-1 wins to claim the 14U Girls National Championship — the state’s first National title for a girls team.
Club Ohio 09 National (OH) began its run to the National title by testing itself against National League P.R.O. competition. Across events in Round Rock and Tampa, the Ohio side went undefeated and capped its event schedule with a key 2-0 win against Team Boca to jump to the top of the standings. In its seventh game against BVBIA Pittsburgh, Club Ohio earned a 1-0 victory to clinch the group title in a hard-fought race at the top.
After two wins to open its week at Nationals, Club Ohio earned a necessary draw in its final group play game to earn the berth to the semifinals. The Ohio side struck for two goals in rapid succession during its semifinal against Team Boca to take a 2-0 victory. In the final, one goal was all that was needed, as Club Ohio shut out in-state foe Sporting Columbus 09 Academy to earn a 1-0 victory and win the 14U Boys National Championship.
For Galaxy SC 2008 (IL), the journey to defend its National Championship began with a strong campaign in National League P.R.O. The Illinois side won all six of its games across the competition’s two events, as it outscored opponents 22-to-1 en route to winning Group A.
After finishing its P.R.O. season with four straight clean sheets, Galaxy continued its stifling defense with a pair of shutout wins to begin group play at Nationals. It clinched a spot in the semifinals with a 3-1 win against NJ Premier in its third game in Orlando. A 1-0 win in the semifinals allowed Galaxy to advance to the final, where it defeated Germantown Lady Legends 08 Black, 2-0, to win its second straight National Championship.
Utah Celtic FC 08 Boys (UT) enjoyed plenty of success in National League play leading into the National Championships. Celtic finished second in the Desert Conference and saved its best performances for National League P.R.O., where it went a perfect 7-0-0 to win Group B. During its P.R.O. campaign, Celtic outscored opponents 24-to-2.
Potent attacking displays became a theme for Utah Celtic during the National Championships, as it averaged three goals per game during group play to win all three matches and advance to the semifinals. Another 3-0 win in its semifinal matchup against LMSC allowed Celtic to advance to the championship game, where it netted five goals to defeat SC Wave and claim the 15U Boys National Championship.
Wasatch SC 07G ZB (UT) earned a chance to defend its 2022 National title by finishing in first place in National League P.R.O. The Utah side compiled six wins and one tie during its P.R.O. campaign, which required a win in its final game to hold off second-place Club Ohio Dayton.
After conceding just one goal in its seven P.R.O. games, Wasatch carried over its stout defensive play into the National Championships. It recorded three shutout victories to win its group and advance to the semifinals, where it won, 6-3, against Vegas United to earn an opportunity to win back-to-back titles. In the final against in-state foe Utah Surf, neither side managed to break through in regulation or extra time — leading to penalties to decide the title. Wasatch came up with a save and converted its kicks to win the penalty shootout and secure the 16U Girls National Championship.
La Roca J Milla (UT) completed a clean sweep of its competitions, as it started its 2022-23 campaign by winning the Desert Conference and National League P.R.O. In P.R.O., La Roca needed every one of its five wins and two draws to hold on to first place, as it finished two points above FC United DSM.
With five of its P.R.O. games decided by a goal or less, La Roca came to the National Championships prepared for tight, high-level competition. Two close wins to begin group play left La Roca needing just a tie in its third game to advance to the semifinals. It got that result by holding off SAC Boys 07 in a scoreless draw. After a 2-0 win the semifinals, La Roca held off JB Marine to win, 1-0, in the final and claim the 16U Boys National Championship.
DASC 06G BLACK (SD) became the first National Champion in South Dakota history by hitting its top form this summer. The South Dakota side competed the Desert Conference and finished in third place with four wins and three losses across the two events in December and February. At the Midwest Regional Championships in June, DASC won all five of its games to claim the regional title and advance to Nationals.
The impressive play continued in Orlando, with a win and a draw to begin group play. Needing a big result in its third game to top the group via goal differential superiority, DASC recorded a dominant shutout victory to advance to the semifinals. Following a 4-1 victory in the semis, DASC went back and forth in the final with former National Champion Solar SC. The two sides finished regulation and extra time tied at 2-2, but DASC triumphed in the penalty shootout to win the 17U Girls National Championship.
Sunday’s title capped quite a month — and season — for Sparta United Elite 64 06B (UT). The Elite 64 Desert winners went to Boise, Idaho, and won the Far West Regional Championship on June 29. A week later, it competed in the Elite 64 Nationals Finals, where it battled through several knockout games to win the 17U National title and help Sparta United to the overall Elite 64 Club Championship.
Looking to complete a sweep of the three summer competitions, Sparta began its week in Orlando by recording two wins and a draw to finish atop its group and move on to the semifinals. A dominant semifinal win set up Sparta with a chance at another title, but it fell behind NL P.R.O. champs Miami Breakers in the championship match. However, Sparta fought back and recorded a late winner to claim a 2-1 victory and the 17U Boys National Championship.
While it finished with the ultimate prize, Patriots FC Girls 05/06 (NY-E) began its run to the title with a pair of runner-up finishes in National League competitions. Patriots FC finished second to SBMC in the North Atlantic Conference, and it went 4-1-2 to qualify for Nationals as the second-place team in its National League P.R.O. group.
Those challenges prepared Patriots FC for the high level of competition at Nationals, and it ran through group play with three shutout victories to move on to the knockout rounds. A tight 2-1 win in the semifinals allowed Patriots FC to advance to the final against fellow Eastern New York side SBMC. In a reversal of their North Atlantic Conference result, Patriots FC earned a 2-0 win over SBMC to win the 18U Girls National Championship.
Libertyville FC 1974 Elite 05 Boys (IL) won the Midwest Conference and finished second in its National League P.R.O. group during league play this season. Its runner-up finish in its P.R.O. group ensured the Illinois side would return to Nationals for a chance to defend its 2022 National title.
A pair of tight wins in its first two games in Orlando helped Libertyville to advance to the semifinals, where it would play in the game of the tournament against NL P.R.O. winner and fellow Illinois side Raiders FC. The two teams played to a 2-2 draw in regulation before a wild extra time period that included seven goals resulted in a 6-5 victory for Libertyville. A much more defensive-minded final saw Libertyville take down another Illinois side, Galaxy SC, by a 1-0 score line to claim the 18U Boys National Championship.
Inland Surf (CA-S) qualified for the National Championships by finishing third in its National League P.R.O. group during the league season. The Cal South side had to rebound after an opening-game loss to FC Bucks Dominion, but seven points from its final three games helped it to make the cut for the group’s three spots to Nationals.
In Orlando, Inland Surf tied its first game before picking up two straight wins to finish on top of Group C and advance to the semifinals. A 2-0 win against Lou Fusz allowed Inland to advance to the final for a rematch against Dominion to decide the McGuire Cup champion. A late penalty kick conversion allowed Inland Surf to earn a 2-1 victory, which made them 19U Boys National Champions and ensured the team name will be added among past winners on oldest trophy in youth sports.