Đề Xuất 1/2023 # Which Soccer League Is The Best? # Top 4 Like | Ngayhoimuanhagiagoc.com

Đề Xuất 1/2023 # Which Soccer League Is The Best? # Top 4 Like

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Starting at about the U13 age group, high level soccer players will likely be faced with a number of options to choose from for continuing their accelerated soccer development.  But, determining which of these options is best for a particular player can be very difficult and confusing. Which youth soccer league is the best in the US? Is it The ECNL (Elite Clubs National League)? What about GA (Girls Academy League) for girls or MLS Next for boys? How do National League and NPL fit into all this?

US Soccer Pyramid

To sort out this somewhat tangled web of possible pathways to soccer greatness, let’s start at the top of the American soccer pyramid – the US Soccer Federation.    The US Soccer Federation is the governing body for soccer in the United States.

Directly under the US Soccer Federation are the following tier 1 programs: (1) Major League Soccer (MLS); (2) National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL); (3) US Men’s National Team (USMNT); and (4) US Women’s National Team (USWNT).  

The next tier consists of the United Soccer League (USL) for men and the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) for women. Then, there are a myriad of pro and semi-pro leagues.  

But, the focus of this post will be on the youth soccer programs below all of the pro and semi-pro leagues.  Youth soccer programs are divided into four primary categories:

United States Youth Soccer (USYS);

US Club Soccer;

United States Specialty Sports Association Soccer (USSSA); and

Collegiate Soccer.   

Let’s start at the youngest ages and work our way up.  From about ages U5 to U8, soccer players will likely only have recreational league opportunities.  Recreational leagues are usually organized locally (meaning they are not within any of the 4 centralized categories above).  Many recreational leagues will have divisions all the way up through high school.

Beginning with age U9 (approximately), you will likely have access to local competitive leagues (see When to Start Formal Soccer Training for a discussion of the differences between recreational and competitive soccer).  These leagues will usually be governed by their respective US Soccer State Associations, which are in turn governed by USYS.  Local competitive leagues will likely have divisions all the way up through high school as well. 

Beginning with age U13, regional and national competitive opportunities become available for the highest level players.  This is where it starts to get confusing. Here are the regional and national league options at this age:

Let’s look at these leagues individually.

National League

Like most local competitive leagues, the National League ultimately falls under USYS, so there is a natural flow from local competition to regional competition.  The National League has 13 regional Conferences. Teams earn their way into their Conferences based on success in competitive opportunities within their respective US Youth Soccer State Associations.   

Each Conference will have a top (Premier I) Division and will likely have additional Divisions (Premier II Division, First Division).  Promotion and relegation will occur among the Divisions based on records at the end of each soccer season.

Teams in Premier I can qualify for the four US Youth Soccer Regional Championships. Champions of the Regional Championships can compete for the right to call themselves the National Champion in their age group in the US Youth Soccer National Championships which take place sometime in July.

Starting at the U14 age group, teams in Premier I can also qualify for participation in the next season’s National League — which is a higher tier than the individual Conferences.  Unlike the individual Conferences in which travel is regional, the locations for the National League events can involve significant travel. Teams in the National League can qualify directly to the US Youth Soccer National Championships without going through the Regional Championships.

The National League just recently started a club vs. club division. The intent is to match the best clubs (as opposed to just the best teams) against each other across multiple age groups. This creates a structure more like ECNL in that it becomes a club commitment as opposed to an individual team commitment. Like the top teams in Premier I, the top teams in the club vs. club division will qualify for the Regional Championships.

National Premier League

The National Premier League falls within US Club Soccer.  There are 19 somewhat regional member leagues in the NPL. The NPL is a club commitment.  In other words, if a club wants to participate in the NPL, they must put a team in at every age group.  This is different than the National League in which individual teams qualify. There are certain fairly low minimum standards that must be maintained to qualify as a member club.

The NPL offers Showcase events and a playoff system for the top teams in each NPL member league.  Finally, there is also a higher tier of competition which is called the Elite National Premier League (ENPL) – which mirrors the National League mentioned above – with a more national scope with respect to competition and travel.


Elite Clubs National League is also sanctioned by US Club Soccer.  Originally, ECNL was formed specifically for the elite female players, but now ECNL has a boys side as well.  There are currently 8 regionally based conferences. Like the NPL, the ECNL is a club commitment and each club must maintain fairly high standards with respect to facilities and coaching.

The ECNL also offers (and, in some cases, requires) several Showcase events throughout the year.  Additionally, there are a couple of different levels of end of year playoffs for which teams may qualify.

Check out this interview on Top Drawer Soccer with Christian Lavers, the President of ECNL (starting at the 6:36 mark). Lavers discusses the boys ECNL, the future of the ECNL in general and why he thinks the structure is the best in youth soccer. Good stuff!

MLS Next

MLS Next’s intent is to create a single pathway for boys through the gauntlet of youth soccer. As of today, 489 teams from 113 clubs are participating in MLS Next. The standards for being accepted as a club into the MLS Next are very high. The league is divided into 3 regional conferences and further subdivided into divisions – up to 13 total divisions in some age groups.

The MLS Next structure is still evolving, but it appears that it will have strict rules about the types and amounts of tournaments allowed as well as participation in sports outside of MLS Next.  MLS Next is also carrying over perhaps the most impactful and controversial rule of the DA – as long as a player is in MLS Next, the player cannot play high school soccer. 

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The Girls Academy League (GA) is a new soccer organization for U13 and older girls originally launched by the Development Player League (DPL) in the wake of the DA’s demise. The GA has about 69 clubs divided into 7 regional conferences.

The GA is, essentially, the replacement for the Girls DA, although about 1/3 of the former girls DA clubs actually jumped over to the ECNL rather than joining the GA. The GA has partnered with MLS Next and USYS with the intent of becoming the highest level of youth soccer for girls.

The GA is also addressing two of the biggest complaints about the DA in that they have stated their intention to allow high school play and include a more lenient substitution policy.


The Development Player League is a girls league that was formed as a sort of second level league by and for some of the girls Development Academy clubs prior to the DA’s dissolution. It is sanctioned by the USSSA. The DPL originally formed the GA, but the DPL does not otherwise currently play a big role in the girls soccer world.

MLS Next vs. ECNL vs. GA

(On mobile, scroll right for GA Column)

Which option is best?

Interestingly, if you look at the mission statement of each of these organizations, you will find that they’re nearly identical.  So, the big question is: with all of these different structures, which soccer league is the best? The answer really depends on your ultimate goal with respect to soccer.  

High School Soccer

If the ultimate goal is to play high school soccer, but there is no intent to play at the collegiate level or higher, the Conferences of the National League or the NPL would likely be sufficient.  With respect to those leagues, the competition level is sufficiently high, but the commitment is much more manageable as far as time and travel. However, the step up National League and the ENPL probably do not offer much more than the Conferences or the NPL, so the benefits of making those leagues is marginal while the increased investment is substantial.

College Soccer

If the ultimate goal is to play in college, the answer is fairly clear on the female side — ECNL.  In comparison to the National League or the NPL, the level of commitment is much higher and the rules are a little more strict in the ECNL, but the competition level is higher and the women’s ECNL events are well-attended by top college scouts and coaches.  The organization of the league is top notch and exposure is assured. ECNL Regional Leagues are still fairly new, but with the same governing organization, there will likely be significant college exposure at that level as well.

As an example, a friend of mine who has a daughter playing at the step-up National League level related a story to me recently of his experience at a National League event in Florida.  Apparently, there was an ECNL event also in Florida at the same time. While the ECNL event attracted a very large number of college scouts, the National League event was, unfortunately, sparsely attended.  ECNL is clearly the preferred format for top colleges.

While the GA may rival the ECNL at some point with respect to a college pathway for girls, the GA is too new to get a good read on. Stay tuned as the landscape continues to change.

On the male side, the best option is less clear.  Both MLS Next and the male division of ECNL are still relatively new. 

The mission of MLS Next is to provide a pathway to pro soccer and the national team. Some of the powers that be in the MLS believe that the pathway does not run through college soccer, so it’s unclear if college soccer will be promoted by MLS Next. Also, as mentioned, the restrictive rules of MLS Next do not allow players to play high school soccer, which can be a deal breaker for some.

The boys side of the ECNL will likely take its lead from the girls side. So, it’s focus will likely be more on college soccer. However, the boys ECNL does not yet have a track record like the girls ECNL.

Both MLS Next and ECNL will have an extremely high level of competition, so either option will likely be good for general soccer development, but, given the high standards that must be maintained by member clubs, they may be prohibitively expensive. Finally, regardless of cost, the level of commitment for both will be extremely high.

Professional Soccer

If the ultimate goal is to play professionally, ECNL on the girls side and MLS Next on the boys side are probably the best choices.  Currently, the easiest path to professional women’s soccer is still through the college ranks, so leveraging the ECNL through college works best.  On the boys side, a direct path through an MLS Academy to a professional club is becoming the norm, so the MLS Next platform will likely be the best option Male players may still be able to make it through the college level to professional, but the preference for a direct route is becoming more and more pronounced.  

National Team

Finally, if the ultimate goal is to play on the national team, the best options are likely going to be MLS Next for boys and GA for girls. Both of those organizations are partnered with US Youth Soccer and the relationship between US Youth Soccer and the US Soccer Federation appears to be a bit tighter than the relationship between US Club Soccer and the US Soccer Federation. That said the answer is far from clear at this point.  

Many Different Paths

Please keep in mind that I’ve presented the “best” options for the various goals above.  That is not to say that college/professional/national team players cannot or will not come from National League or NPL teams — or even local competitive or high school teams.   The US Soccer structure is a tangled web of organizations; and I have seen various level scouts at all sorts of different events. If your player is not able to make an ECNL or MLS Next team, don’t give up! Who knows where your soccer journey is going to take you, but it will be fun finding out!

Where To Stay In Hanoi: Best Areas To Stay In Hanoi

Where to Stay in Hanoi: Advice from an expat in Hanoi about the best neighborhoods to stay in Hanoi, Vietnam! (Plus 20 Hanoi Hotels by District)

We created this guide in collaboration with a long-term expat in Hanoi, Rebecca McBride. We’re thrilled she agreed to share her passion and knowledge of Hanoi as our local city expert for this Where to Stay in Hanoi Guide, and hope it helps with your Hanoi trip planning!

A decade later and Hanoi still holds a special charm over me, as I live, work and miraculously ride my motorbike through the crazy buzz of traffic.

Hanoi is simultaneously fast and slow, easy and difficult, relaxing and exhausting. This is a city where a little research goes a long way, as choosing what to eat, where to go, and how to get there can be a tad confusing if you just aimlessly hit the streets.

However, armed with just a basic understanding of local dishes, the lay of the land and a few Vietnamese words, exploration in the city yields some of the most interesting and stimulating street scenes you’re likely to see. Get ready for sensory overload; this is Hanoi.

The Best Areas to Stay in Hanoi, Vietnam: Hanoi’s Most Popular Neighborhoods to Stay

Hoan Kiem (The Old Quarter) – The historic soul of the city, it’s obvious why most tourists choose to stay here. Temples, old gates, and traditional shops make for a busy neighborhood that will shock your senses! From luxury hotels to backpacker hostels, there’s something for everyone here. And surely everyone can get beyond the $0.20 in many cafés and bars in the area! Hoan Kiem is the best area to stay in Hanoi if you want a convenient and cultural experience right in the centre! (Find hotels in Hoan Kiem.)

Tay Ho – Mostly an expat neighborhood, Tay Ho makes for a soft landing, culture shock wise. Modern shops and a good choice of dining and nightlife spots make this a convenient area for tourists. And for a glimpse into the more traditional side of Hanoi, visit the very colorful Flower Market. Tay Ho is the best area to stay in Hanoi if you’d like a western-feeling enclave in the city, while still being conveniently located for exploring Hanoi! (Find hotels in Tay Hoy.)

Ba Dinh – Home to many of the city’s most visited attractions (Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, the Military Museum and the Old Citadel), this area is well-located close to the Old Quarter, but far less popular as a place to stay. If you want quieter streets and a still central location, Ba Dinh might be a great neighborhood to stay in Hanoi. (Find hotels in Ba Dinh.)

Off the Beaten Path Neighborhoods in Hanoi

Truc Bach – This is a neighborhood where you can finally catch your breath. If you are tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, this is a good place to be based. There aren’t many famous landmarks (except for Tran Quoc pagoda), but the neighborhood is filled with restaurants catering to the large expat community, and it’s a great spot to relax with a book on the lakeside. (Find hotels in Truc Bach.)

Hai Ba Trung – Busy and modern: this neighborhood can be summarized with these two words. Here you can find the city’s most modern movie theater, lots of clothing shops, and hip cafès. Also, the local fabric market and tailor shops on Pho Hue St. are worth visiting for something more traditional. (Find hotels in Hai Ba Trung.)

Hanoi Travel Tips & Further Info

Where to Stay in Hanoi: Hoan Kiem (The Old Quarter)

A trip to Hanoi wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the Old Quarter (Hoan Kiem), which functions as the historic soul of the city. Streets here are some of the oldest in the country, and even with the onslaught of the motorbike, these streets still ooze a trace of the tranquillity of bygone years.

Great area for: ✓ Central & Convenient ✓ Dining & Nightlife ✓ Historical & Cultural Tourism

Take note of the temples on nearly every street as well as the ancient city gates. There are also reminders of the foreign presence Hanoi has felt over the years. The most obvious feature reminiscent of the French occupation is St Joseph’s, a Roman Catholic cathedral.

In contrast to remnants of the past, time spent on Beer Corner (Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen intersection) is a great way to experience how the modern tourism industry blooms within the old quarter.

Absolute madness in terms of visual stimulation, people flock here to drink cheap beer and chat with anyone and everyone. When the police eventually shuffle people along you can continue your evening inside a bar hidden behind roller doors.

One of the most beautiful lakes in Hanoi is that of Hoan Kiem. Visit the Temple of the Jade Mountain, which is smack bang in the middle of this lake.

Keeping with the theme of water, there are two water puppet show theatres on either side of the lake. Spend 40 minutes watching a centuries-old cultural tradition that began right where you are.

There are many places to stay in this area, ranging from cheap backpacker dorms to more upmarket hotels, making it an appealing place to stay for most people who visit Hanoi. The abundance of travel agents in this area is also convenient if you’re planning onward travel.

However, the old quarter’s charm can run a little thin as the busy streets can overwhelm. If you’re looking for something more low key, consider staying in one of the quieter suburbs listed below and venturing into the old quarter as you please. If you want to be in the thick of the action, this is your neighborhood!

You can check out all the hotels in the Old Quarter here, or see our top picks below:

Looking for a Luxury Hotel in Hoan Kiem?

Skip to Next Neighborhood ↓

While most of the hotels in Hanoi’s Old Quarter fall squarely into the ‘mid-ranged’ price point, there are a few highly-rated 5-star luxury properties to choose from as well.

The stunning Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi (9.4/10 on Booking.com) is a top choice to the east of the lake, and gets rave reviews from past guests.

Alternatively, check out the Apricot Hotel (9.1/10 on Booking.com) on the southwestern lake shore.

Where to Stay in Hanoi: Tay Ho

Tay Ho is expat central, with arguably more foreigners roaming the streets than locals. If you’re making the trip to Tay Ho along the dyke road you’ll be treated to a 4 km long mosaic mural which was built to celebrate Hanoi’s 1000 year reign as Vietnam’s capital (1010 -2010).

Tay Ho offers some decent cafes and fun night spots. If you’ve been on the road for a while and you’re after a slice of western living then this is the place to stay. That said, you’re never too far from an authentic Vietnamese scene in Hanoi and a quick trip across the busy dyke road will land you at the flower market.

Where to Stay in Hanoi: Ba Dinh

If you’re too hot to walk or strapped for time, use cyclos or just take a taxi. If you’re craving some down time in some green space then a couple of hours in the Botanical gardens should work wonders.

Great area for: ✓ Central & Convenient ✓ Quieter & Peaceful ✓ Historical & Cultural Tourism ✓ Botanical Gardens

The hotels dotted throughout Ba Dinh are generally not as popular for western travellers as those in the nearby Old Quarter.

However, if you value quieter streets over close proximity to restaurants and travel agents you may consider staying in this area.

Hanoi’s Less Visited Neighborhoods

Where to Stay in Hanoi: Truc Bach

Truc Bach, a smaller region of Ba Dinh, is in many regards a suburb itself. It’s a popular place for expats to live but few tourists find their way here.

A quiet area, especially on the island of Ngu Xa, this is a nice place to catch your breath.

Truc Bach serves up lakeside coffee shops, swan paddle boats to venture onto Truc Bach lake in, the authentic Chau Long wet market and Hanoi’s best book shop (The Bookworm).

Great area for: ✓ Quiet Neighborhood ✓ Expat Community ✓ Lakeside

You can also grab a soft serve ice cream and enjoy the sunset from my favourite pagoda in Hanoi, Tran Quoc.

Truc Bach has an array of international and vegetarian cuisine scattered throughout the local specialties of frog hotpot and Pho Cuon (a type of noodle roll).

Accommodation around these parts tends towards a nice smattering of mid-range hotels and longer term studio apartments.

Where to Stay in Hanoi: Hai Ba Trung

See all the hotels in Truc Bach here, or see our top picks below:

South of Hoan Kiem, Hai Ba Trung is definitely a suburb worth visiting and one most tourists only scratch the surface of. If you’re looking for a place to shop for clothes, this is it. Leafy streets with relaxed vibes harbor cute clothing stores and coffee shops.

Skip to Next Neighborhood ↓

For a shopping splurge head to Vin Com tower where you’ll also find the city’s most modern cinema. If you prefer not to buy off the rack there’s always the local fabric market and tailor shops on Pho Hue st. The Women’s Museum is in this area as is the recently famous Obama Bun Cha restaurant.

If you prefer to stay in an area that is more developed (albeit still busy) then Hai Ba Trung may be a good option for you.

Great area for: ✓ Modern ✓ Clothing Shopping



Popular Tours & Activities from Hanoi

Check out all the hotels in Hai Ba Trung, or see our top picks below:

Frequently Asked Questions

So Where Should You Stay in Hanoi?

Where you stay in Hanoi will largely depend on the amount of time you have, and whether you can sleep soundly with earplugs in!

The noisy and fast paced Old Quarter is ideal if you want to be in the centre of the action and get a real feel for Hanoi’s busy street life. If you only have a couple of days, the Old Quarter is probably the best area to stay in Hanoi so you don’t feel as if you’re missing out! Find Old Quarter hotels.

Although there are considerably less accommodation options in Truc Bach, this is a much quieter area that will call for some lake side relaxation. Still centrally located, Truc Bach is only a 5-10 minute taxi ride to sights in Ba Dinh and the Old Quarter. For those who prefer a quieter and laid back vibe, consider staying in Truc Bach. Find Truc Bach hotels.

Those looking for a more up market experience should check out Hai Ba Trung and for an extended stay in Hanoi you may consider either Tay Ho or Truc Bach. These areas provide more creature comforts than others and longer term studio apartment rentals are common. Find Hai Ba Trung hotels or Tay Ho hotels.

How to Get Around Hanoi

Unless you’re traveling up from the south (Vietnam’s shape makes picking a travel route relatively easy) you’ll most likely fly into Noi Bai International airport.

If you’re arriving at night think about a hotel pick up, saving you the hassle of navigating city streets in the dark.

During the day, public transport into the city is a good option. Safe and cheap, the bright orange number 86 public bus leaves outside from the left hand side of the airport terminal, going roughly every 20 minutes.

Unfortunately there is a lack of dependable public transport in Hanoi other than the 86 and you will most likely find yourself in a taxi at some stage.

Hanoi is a spider web of suburbs that stretches quite far west and east. Areas of interest are all relatively close, fanning out from the city’s historic Old Quarter.

Despite footpaths overloaded with everything from chicken families to metal grinding workshops, walking is a great way to see the city. If you’re not feeling up to the challenge of navigating the streets on foot, the quintessentially Vietnamese Cyclo offers you a front row seat to the cinematic street scenes.

I would only recommend jumping on a motorbike if you’re competent and confident.

A Note About Our Hotel Recommendations In This Hanoi Neighbourhood Guide

Our hope with this Where to Stay in Hanoi Guide (and our Where to Stay in Taipei, Where to Stay in Shanghai, Where to Stay in Beijing chúng tôi get the idea) is to make it easy to find the best area to stay in Hanoi for your particular travel style, goals and budget.

Hanoi is a densely populated, busy city, and it’s worth figuring out where you want to base yourself and where you want to explore!

As we hired local expert Rebecca to write this Hanoi guide, we’re a bit limited in terms of hotel knowledge…because, of course, locals don’t live in hotels! Rather than leave you to figure this out all on your own, we’ve researched and chosen some of the highest-rated hotels in each Hanoi neighborhood.

The idea with these guides is that we put the research in for you, and choose the places we personally would want to stay, and the places we felt we’d be comfortable recommending to a friend or family member, across different budget ranges.

Our aim is to help you have a fantastic vacation to Hanoi, be it a grand Southeast Asia tour or a city stop over, without spending hours on research.

We hope we’ve chúng tôi please don’t blame us if we haven’t – at the end of the day, we expect you’ll check the most recent reviews and specific conditions in the city, using our listings as a starting point and framework, and choosing then selecting the best hotel and area to stay in Hanoi for your own unique trip!

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