Explore the best youth soccer clubs in Arizona. Whether you're a player or a parent, our list showcases top soccer clubs for all ages and skill levels. Join the excitement!

best youth soccer clubs in Arizona
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Top Arizona Soccer Clubs and Why They Vary

Before diving into the top soccer clubs in Arizona, it's essential to recognize the significant role certain key factors play in setting some clubs apart from their rivals. These variables are game-changers, bestowing considerable advantages to certain clubs and fundamentally influencing your decision-making process. Understanding these pivotal elements is crucial in making an informed choice when selecting the right club for you or your aspiring soccer star. Below are 3 top factors by importance as to why AZ soccer clubs have an advantage over others.

#1 - League Play (ENCL / MLS NEXT / GA)

* Arizona clubs that participate in these leagues play in the Southwest Conference (Considered the most difficult conference in the World for youth soccer)

Top tier Arizona soccer clubs that have access to the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), Major League Soccer Next (MLS NEXT) and Girls Academy (GA) often have distinct advantages over soccer clubs that are not included in the those leagues, primarily due to the following reasons:

  • Higher Level of Competition: ECNL, MLS NEXT and GA (Top Tier Clubs) all compete at the national level against top-tier teams, offering players exposure to more challenging and competitive play. This environment fosters advanced skill development and tactical understanding of the game.
  • Increased Visibility for College Recruitment: Top tier clubs are heavily scouted by college coaches due to the high concentration of talent. Players in these clubs often have better opportunities for college recruitment and scholarships.
  • National Exposure and Travel: Participation in a top tier club provides opportunities for travel and playing in front of diverse audiences, broadening players’ experiences and exposure on a national scale.
  • Professional Coaching and Training: Top tier clubs attract highly qualified and experienced coaches. The advanced coaching methods and professional training environments help players develop at an accelerated pace.
  • Superior Facilities and Resources: Top tier clubs usually tend to have access to top-notch facilities, including quality fields, training equipment, and sports science resources, contributing to a more professional development environment.
  • Structured Player Development Pathways: Top tier clubs offer well-structured development pathways that systematically prepare players for higher levels of competition, including college, semi-professional, and professional opportunities.
  • Quality of Opposition: Playing for a top tier club means regularly playing against some of the best youth talent in the country, which pushes players to constantly improve and adapt to high-performance standards.
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IMPORTANT: Only a select few soccer clubs in Arizona (top tier clubs) are awarded with a spot into ECNL, MSL NEXT or GA, which means they have a distinct advantage in not only recruiting top soccer players, but keeping the top players over soccer clubs that are not awarded with a spot.

Unfortunately (and possibly unfairly) Arizona soccer clubs NOT in the ECNL, MSL NEXT or GA often face challenges in retaining their best players, who may depart for these top soccer clubs in pursuit of better development and exposure opportunities. This dynamic creates a significant divide in the quality of play and opportunities between the top tier clubs and lower tier clubs.


Look for soccer clubs in Arizona that participate in the ECNL, MLS NEXT and GA if you or your aspiring soccer player has a desire to play at a higher level or is at higher level skill set, ready for a larger level of commitment and looking to get increased exposure from college coaches. Typical practices are 4 times a week with weekend league games in Arizona (55%) and California (45%). Play in these leagues start around U12 (Under 12 years old). Individual personal soccer training is also recommended outside the practices as most soccer clubs don't work too much on individual player development.

*Soccer clubs that participate in ECNL, MLS NEXT and GA do offer recreational and competitive programs that are considered lower level and are geared to feed into their top programs.

#2 - Coaches / Trainers

Arizona coaches and trainers are next up on the list as having the top trainers usually means turning average players/teams into the best, or making the best players/teams even better.

Soccer clubs in Arizona that participate in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), Major League Soccer Next (MLS NEXT) and Girls Academy (GA) do have advantages of attracting better coaches and trainers in Arizona, but that doesn't mean they have the best. See these following reasons:

  • No High Level Playing Experience: Some coaches and trainers for Arizona soccer clubs participating in the ECNL, MLS NEXT and GA might have a top coaching license, but do they have high level playing experience. Anyone can get can high level coaching license, but the real high quality training and coaching comes from experience playing at a high level. A combination of the two is the Gold Standard.
  • Individual Development vs Team Development: Most ECNL, MLS NEXT and GA soccer clubs in Arizona rely on soccer players that are already developed- making for more time on team training. This is why individual training sessions outside regular club soccer practices are needed for playing in the ECNL, MLS NEXT and GA.
Arizona youth soccer clubs

IMPORTANT: Most soccer clubs in Arizona have the same QUALITY level soccer trainers/coaches as ECNL, MLS NEXT and GA clubs. In fact, some clubs outside these top tier programs have higher quality trainers and coaches- which is much better for a soccer player's development.

This is because lower tier soccer clubs have trainers/coaches that have played soccer at a high level (College/Pro) but didn't spend the time and money to get a top coaching license- which is usually a requirement for an ECNL, MLS NEXT and GA soccer club in AZ. Remember, anyone can get a high level coaching license, but only a small percentage can or have played soccer at a high level.


Question to ask is: Would a soccer player rather be trained by 5 year professional soccer player who doesn't have a coaching license, or an A license coach who has never played at the college/pro level?

Just because a soccer club in AZ participates in the ECNL, MLS NEXT and GA, doesn't mean you or your aspiring soccer player will get the best training/coaching. Until they are at a high skill level, it is completely fine to play for a club outside the top tier youth soccer clubs in Arizona.

#3 - Arizona Soccer Club's Location

Location can play a significant role in why some soccer clubs in Arizona have an advantage over others- especially in recruiting top talent and forming better teams. Here are a few key reasons:

  • Demographics and Talent Pool: Areas in Arizona with higher population density generally have a larger pool of potential soccer players. This increases the likelihood of discovering top talent. Additionally, certain communities might have a stronger soccer culture or history, attracting more skilled players.
  • Access to Facilities and Resources: Arizona soccer clubs in more affluent areas or urban centers might have better access to high-quality training facilities, equipment, and experienced coaches. This can significantly impact player development.
  • Travel and Accessibility: The ease of traveling to and from training and match locations can influence a player's decision to join a club. Clubs that are more accessible to players from various regions might have a broader talent pool.
  • Economic Factors: The cost of participating in club soccer can be significant. Clubs in wealthier areas might have more players who can afford higher fees, leading to better resources and talent development programs.
  • Climate and Geography: Arizona's varied climate and geography can impact training and playing conditions. Clubs in areas with milder weather might have longer playing seasons and more consistent training schedules, which can aid in player development.
Arizona youth soccer clubs

IMPORTANT: With only a select few soccer clubs in Arizona (top tier clubs) being awarded with a spot into an ECNL, MSL NEXT or GA league, you might be forced to travel long distances if you're set on playing for a top tier club.


If you're looking to get high quality training and coaching, plan to travel an average of 15 - 45 minutes to and from practice. If you're just starting out and playing at a recreational level, finding a quality Arizona soccer club in your immediate area shouldn't be a problem.

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