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US Soccer Leagues

Today’s objective is to inform you about the current soccer structure in the USA.


There are 3 (three) major leagues sanctioned by the USSF (United States Soccer Federation):
  • MSL (Major League Soccer) - Division I - 22 clubs
  • NASL (North American Soccer League) - Division II - 8 clubs
  • USL (United Soccer League) - Division II - 30 clubs
Currently there is no league classified in Division III.


NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) is a professional soccer league sanctioned by the USSF, representing the highest level of women’s soccer in the US.

According to the most recent data, NWSL has 10 affiliated clubs.


The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is a league commonly recognized as being a fourth tier league, though it has been given no official designation by USSF.
  • Teams: 96
  • Regions: 4
  • Conferences: 14

In this category the certification body is the USASA (U.S. Adult Soccer Association), which includes more than 320 men’s teams and is structured as follows:
  • 7 National Leagues
  • 4 Regional Leagues
  • 14 Elite Amateur Leagues

There are two major leagues dealing with women’s non-professional soccer in the US:
  • WPSL (Women's Premier Soccer League), an independent national league sanctioned by USASA, with approximately 110 teams.
  • UWS (United Women’s Soccer), also commonly abbreviated UWoSo, a second-division league founded in 2015. The league currently has 22 teams in 3 conferences.

Sports activities at colleges and universities are regulated outside the USSF, with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) being the main organizations acting in this segment.

NCAA ranks the academic institutions in 3 (three) divisions, based upon the amount of sports they engage in and the volume of scholarships offered to their athletes.

There are more than 800 NCAA men’s programs and 959 women’s soccer teams, with a steady increase in the women’s programs.


CCS (College Club Sports) are any sports offered at a college or university that compete competitively with other colleges or universities, but are not regulated either by NCAA or NAIA, and do not have varsity status.

This model offers college athletes the ability to play at a competitive level, but without the time commitment generally required for a sport governed by the NCAA.

Most sports offered at universities and offered in youth leagues are also available as a collegiate club team. However, the variety of sports offered is also often related to the size of the school.

CCS differs from NCAA sports in the way that they are almost entirely paid for by students and, typically, club sports are student-run and receive little financial aid from the universities and colleges.

The tryout procedure for club sports varies from school to school and from sport to sport.

An estimated 2 million student athletes compete in club sports.