The US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional League (MRL) has announced changes for 2013-2014, refining its levels of competition into a three-tier structure consisting of Premier I, Premier II and First Divisions, and creating a revised Premier I Division qualification competition for the Under-13 and Under-14 age groups during the 2013 Fall Season.
“The US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional League is evolving alongside its primary user group, the hundreds of premier youth soccer clubs in the Midwest,” noted US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional League Commissioner, Paul Luchowski. “Our changes for 2013-2014 are a result of listening to the youth club directors who seek meaningful and competitive matches for all levels of their teams. We know that we are an integral part of their soccer playing calendar of league, State Cup and tournament play.”
The MRL continues to be a team based competition rewarding teams that have success. “We have heard loud and clear from our participating clubs, we need to continue with our focus on rewarding team success on the playing field due to the different competitive levels of teams at various age groups within the premier youth clubs,” added Luchowski.
The MRL, with more than 850 teams in 2012-2013, serves as the premier league competition for teams in the Boys and Girls Under-13 through Under-18 age groups in US Youth Soccer’s Region II, and is part of US Youth Soccer’s vertically integrated league competitions (State Association Leagues to Regional Leagues to National League),
US Youth Soccer is divided into four regions, Region I (East), Region II (Midwest), Region III (South) and Region IV (West) to assist in national competition. The MRL is joined by the Region I Premier League, Region III Southern Regional Premier League and Region IV Far West Regional League as the country’s top regional competitions, with successful teams from each regional league qualifying into the prestigious US Youth Soccer National League.
The MRL provides an organized and integrated league structure with teams qualifying for league play through State Association operated competitions, in many cases State Leagues. The MRL also provides teams at its top tier (Premier I Divisions) the opportunity to qualify for the US Youth Soccer Region II Championships, part of the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, as well as automatic slots for Premier I Division champions into the National League.
The restructuring into three tiers and creating a system for the U-13 and U-14 Premier I qualification competitions will better serve teams seeking meaningful and competitive league play. Youth club directors have taken note of the well-crafted tiered structure of the MRL that offers teams within premier clubs with slots to match their competition level.
“The Midwest Regional League offers the best organized league competition model in the country,” stated Paul Tinnion the Director of Coaching for the Michigan Jaguars. “The league offers teams in our club on both the girls and boys side with competition tiers that meet our specific team development needs. We have teams in the First Division through Premier Division and have been fortunate to qualify for the US Youth Soccer National League through our success in the MRL.”
With three tiers of competition, the MRL provides youth clubs with the ability to have teams compete in their earned level of competition, as well as placing an emphasis on promotion and relegation, the integrity of the MRL stands out to many youth club directors.
Josh Sheldon, the Director of Coaching with the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors, believes, “Your teams know where they stand for each season based on the results on the field. We know that we earned our Midwest Regional League Premier Division slots though successful play in the league. The MRL offers our teams with a clear path of what it takes to earn a top tier Premier Division slot competing against similar competitive teams from a number of states.”
After the annual review of competition structure by member State Association Technical Directors and key staff, as well as gathering feedback from club directors of coaching at the MRL’s annual round table meeting held at the US Youth Soccer Workshop/NSCAA Convention this past January in Indianapolis, the MRL has made the following changes:
THREE TIERS OF COMPETITION
The MRL offers clubs and teams in the Midwest with a multi-level competition platform that is a vital part of each club’s player development program specific to each club’s home market.
The MRL has refined its tiers of competition, continuing to reinforce the concept of vertical integration from State Leagues to Regional Leagues (offering multiple tiers) and qualification for the US Youth Soccer National League.
Previously operating with Premier Division and First Division tiers of competition within each age group, the MRL will now operate three tiers – Premier I Division, Premier II Division and First Division. The addition of the third tier will realign teams into better competitive levels, while maintaining a similar number of teams.
The current Premier Division will be called the Premier I Division, and a new Premier II Division will be created above the existing First Division. The existing Premier Divisions, now called Premier I Divisions, will not change their composition as teams will continue to earn their slots based on results on the field through the league’s traditional promotion and relegation system.
Those teams relegated from the current Premier Divisions and the top teams from the current First Divisions will be placed in the Premier II Division tier.
All other teams will compete in the First Division tier, which will continue to be the entry level for teams first entering the MRL.
UNDER-13 AND UNDER-14 PREMIER I DIVISION QUALIFICATION
The MRL has added the Under-13 age group for full competition in 2013-2014 to mirror the existing Under-14 competition where Fall Season play dictates the placement of teams into their respective tiers for the following Spring Season.
Previously, all teams during the Fall Season competed for Spring Season Premier Division slots. With the expansion into the Under-13 age group and the continued growth in the number of participants in the younger age groups, the MRL will institute a 32-team Premier I Division Qualification competition beginning with the 2013 Fall Season.
The competition will follow the UEFA Champions League allocation system where State Associations that have historically placed teams in all Premier Divisions will have a larger allotment of teams into the 32-team competition versus those State Associations that have limited or no participation at the Premier Division level.
In addition to those teams participating in the Premier I qualification competition, the MRL will offer Under-13 and Under-14 teams with competition during the 2013 Fall Season qualification for the 2014 Spring Season Premier II Divisions and First Divisions.
Additional information on the three tiers, including the projected assignment of teams for the 2013-2014 season, as well as the allotment of teams from each State Association for the Premier I Division qualification competition is posted at http://www.midwestregionalleague.com/links.htm.