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LouCity Academy ranked No. 11 in ECNL's Top 25 after inaugural year

By LouCity Communications, 08/11/21, 4:00PM EDT


The club was one of two to see all age groups U-13 through U-19 reach the playoffs.

Courtesy of Connor Cunningham

Capping off a highly successful first year, Louisville City FC’s youth academy was this week ranked 11th in the Elite Clubs National League’s Boys Overall Top 25 list.

The ECNL’s Top 25 was set in order of point totals across ECNL competitions and saw LouCity listed above, among others, youth systems for Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for our club, the staff, the players and the families,” said academy director Mario Sanchez. “In the first year of existence in a great league to get into the Top 25, I couldn’t be prouder. It goes along with what we have done since day one to be the best academy in the country. The results have shown it, and now we must continue to grow and get better.”

LouCity’s youth program — which operates alongside the Racing Louisville FC academy — began play in the fall of 2020, with the ECNL widely recognized as the nation’s leading youth soccer development platform. The local academies are fielded with a mission to provide a pathway to professional, collegiate and national team opportunities for their players.

Brothers Elijah and Josh Wynder have already graduated from the academy to sign pro deals with the USL Championship first team. LouCity was also one of only two clubs to be represented by each age group — U-13 through U-19 — in the ECNL playoffs.

“That is something that we are extremely proud of,” Sanchez said. “We have an approach that encompasses all age groups. That to me is a sign of development. We are not picking one or two age groups but from the little ones up, they are getting what they need to be the best players they can be.”

Along with ECNL competitions and other tournaments, LouCity fielded a USL Academy League squad in 2021, gathering its top talents from across age groups, many of them well-known all-state performers on their high school squads, to compete in a nine-game campaign. The season could eventually grow to match the USL Championship in breadth, providing a top-flight reserve league for pros to log needed minutes and young talent to prove itself.

“Ultimately, we want our kids from the greater Kentuckiana area to have the best opportunities and development,” Sanchez said. “To see the growth and to see the success, I couldn’t be prouder for the club. Now, it is making sure we continue to grow.”

The LouCity and Racing academies will look to build off their momentum in a second ECNL season kicking off in September for age groups U-14 and younger. Older players return to competition in October and November.

ECNL’s 2020-21 Top 25 Clubs

1. San Diego Surf
2. Dallas Texans
3. Eclipse Select
5. Crossfire Premier
6. NCFC Youth Academy
7. Charlotte Independence Pro
8. Charlotte SA Academy
9. GSA
10. Pateadores
11. Louisville City FC
12. FC Dallas
13. Pipeline SC
14. San Diego SC
15. Albion Hurricanes FC
16. Florida Premier
17. NEFC
18. Richmond United
19. Houston Dynamo Youth
20. Arlington Soccer
T21. Utah Avalanche
23. Lonestar SC South
24. Florida Kraze
25. Ohio Premier