As United Soccer Leagues starts its third decade of operation, soccer at all levels continues to grow in the U.S., Canada, and Caribbean. The largest organization of elite-level soccer leagues in North America, United Soccer Leagues is dedicated to growing the sport at the grassroots level in every community.  The USL First Division and Second Division (North American men’s professional soccer), the USL Premier Development League (U23 North American men’s amateur), the USL W-League (North American women’s amateur), the USL Super-20 League (U20 North American men’s and women’s amateur) and the USL Super Y-League (North American boy’s and girl’s elite youth amateur) have provided a platform for thousands of players to reach their dreams since 1986.  This vision and commitment to develop a soccer nation by fans, investors, administrators, coaches, and players has created the foundation for the growth of the sport, while presenting affordable, exciting family entertainment in over 100 cities and towns on the continent.  


The strongest professional soccer league in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean outside of Major League Soccer, USL PRO is a national league featuring a regional competition model to build natural rivalries. USL PRO will help to ensure the long-term stability of professional soccer in North America while featuring future stars and elite players from throughout the world. In addition to league play, USL PRO teams will compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions. The U.S. Soccer Federation-affiliated league will consist of as many as four geographic regions in 2011.


The top U23 men’s amateur league in North America lives in the USL Premier Development League (PDL), the development ground for elite players. The 2008 campaign features a 67-team format within four conferences, consisting of 16 regular season matches, 8 home and 8 away. The schedule is augmented by participation in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and various exhibitions. Players have the ability to compete in the PDL throughout the summer months in a professionalized setting while maintaining their collegiate     eligibility. The league is the proving ground for players that aspire to reach the   highest-levels of the game, while providing affordable family entertainment within their city.


Exceptional competitive women’s soccer lives in the USL W-League, USL’s highest level of women’s soccer in the US and Canada. The 2008 campaign features a 41-team format in four conferences playing 12 or 14 regular season matches. The top women’s players throughout the world compete in the USL W-League through the summer months.  In addition to the league featuring international and former professional stars, elite collegiate players have the opportunity to also compete in the league while maintaining their collegiate eligibility.  The league is recognized throughout the world for providing elite competition for women’s players, while providing affordable family entertainment to many fans in each of the team locations. 


The only U20 men’s and women’s North American amateur league lives in the USL Super-20 League. Created in 2006, the league provides the opportunity for the top 17-20 year olds to compete in high-level competition, as well as affords the opportunity to establish a reserve team system for the Premier Development League and W-League teams.  The 2008 campaign features teams competing in four conferences, consisting of 8-10 regular season matches throughout the summer months. 

There are over 800 teams within the U13 – U17 boys and girls age groups competing within 10 geographic divisions of the U.S. and Canada.


The future of soccer lives in the USL Super Y-League, a professionalized system that is the first step for developing elite youth soccer players in North America. Affiliated with US Soccer, the league is designed for talented youth players destined for professional or international careers. The league contains the youth academies of USL First Division, USL Second Division, Premier Development League, W-League, and Major League Soccer clubs, as well as many of the established premier youth clubs. Through Olympic Development Program status events such as the North American Finals and National ODP Camps, the nation’s top players are identified for selection to US National Team Programs. The 2008 campaign features over 800 teams within the U13 – U17 boys and girls age groups competing within 10 geographic divisions of the U.S. and Canada.


Dating back to 1914, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in United States soccer and is among the oldest in the world. Open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States, the annual U.S. Open Cup is entering itís 95th tournament in 2008.

In a nutshell, the U.S. Open Cup is very similar to domestic cup competitions popular throughout Europe, South America and the rest of the world. Cup competitions, which usually run concurrent with a countryís league season, are open in the early stages to any club that can qualify, giving local amateur teams a chance to compete against the best teams a country has to offer.