US Soccer’s Club Structure: An Introduction

How complex is the US Soccer structure to explain. Well, on one hand it is kinda simple when you just list out the tiers and leagues. But I wanted to provide more background and context. And that, well, took a bit of work, chipping away at the following over the past week or so, including an extra little delay following the USL Super League’s Division 1 announcement. Knowing most people don’t like to read or just want the simple picture and others love to digest everything, including some of the drama that has unfolded (many stories still untold) over the years I am presenting this series in multiple parts you can choose to explore. And this presentation does not even include collegiate and youth soccer.

With the kickoff of the Spokane Velocity USL League One season just around the corner, here is a full rundown of the professional and amateur soccer structure in the United States, along with a bit of history for some context. This will be a great go to source general fans in the community can quickly understand references that pop up such as backgrounds of player signings, US Open Cup and friendly opponents, etc.

US Soccer’s Club Structure: Series Posts
Breakdown of the StructureBehind the StructureInland NW Teams in the Structure

Here is the current list of the American Soccer tiers and the leagues currently relevant to the inland northwest:

…. Major League Soccer

…. National Womens Soccer League
…. USL Super League

…. USL Championship

…. USL League One
…. MLS Next Pro

DIVISION ‘4’ – Amateur Soccer (debatably aka semi-pro soccer)

…. USL League Two
…. National Premier Soccer League
…. United Premier Soccer League
…. NISA Nation
…. Regional / State Leagues
…. – Evergreen Premier League
…. – Cascadia Premier League
…. USL W-League
…. Women’s Premier Soccer League
…. United Women’s Soccer
…. Regional / State Leagues

* Leagues listed in no particular order within tiers

Site Note: For the record – I am currently in my second stint with Spokane Shadow and spent 10 years working at USL, but I feel this is a very unbiased look at the structure and history (that I feel I can freely share). – Gerald Barnhart