RICHMOND, VA (March 4, 2021) – In conjunction with the launch of the ECNL Boys Heartland Conference, the league is thrilled to announce the creation of the Heartland Conference in the ECNL Regional League, including the following clubs: KC Athletics, KC Fusion, Lou Fusz Athletic, Puma FC, Sporting Blue Valley, Sporting Springfield and Sporting St. Louis. These clubs have committed to making the ECNL Regional League – Heartland the top competition platform for their top teams at all age groups. The addition of seven new clubs and a new conference will add to the league’s competition and talent pool, while also continuing to fulfill the ECNL’s mission to Raise the Game across the country. Since its inception, the ECNL has supported the nation’s top clubs as they develop the next generation of college and professional stars.
“It’s extremely exciting to announce the formation of the Heartland Conference for the ECNL Boys Regional League,” said ECNL Boys Commissioner Jason Kutney. “By forming a Regional League conference to complement the formation of the new Heartland Conference at the club level, we continue to build a great soccer foundation in the center of the country. Consisting of top teams from these clubs, the Regional League – Heartland will be a true proving ground offering potential advancement opportunities to the ECNL Club Competition based upon performance. Welcoming these clubs into the ECNL marks an important step forward, elevating the competitive level of the league and providing the best resources to more players.”
Overland Park, KS
Kansas City Athletic Club is an athlete-centered organization that focuses on developing the individual player by providing expert coaching, administrative support, and role modeling to foster a well-rounded athlete who thrives on and off the soccer field. Founded in 2013, the club has continued its mission of providing top-level competition and training to athletes in the Kansas City metro area through futures, pre-competitive, regional, championship, academy and elite level teams.
“Our club is excited to be accepted into the ECNL Regional League – Heartland and be given the opportunity to play in the most recognized youth soccer league in the US,” said Goran Hunjak, KC Athletics Boys Academy Director. “This league will give our young players great opportunities and challenges by competing in one of the highest youth levels in our country. ECNL Regional League – Heartland is a great platform to prepare players who desire to play beyond youth soccer. This is a major step for growing our club into one of the best in the Midwest.”
Kansas City, KS
KC Fusion is dedicated to being one of Kansas City’s top youth soccer clubs. The organization strives to create and deliver to club members and their families an amazing youth soccer experience. With a state of the art complex, cold weather training facility, a collection of high school and collegiate coaches on staff and accessibility for all families, KC Fusion helps every athlete in the organization become better players, better teammates and better people and to reach their every goal.
“We are super excited to join the ECNL regional platform,” said Jason Pendleton, KC Fusion Executive Director. “The opportunity to play the best teams in Missouri and Kansas while minimizing travel for our players and their families is the perfect fit for Fusion. We look forward to working with ECNL and can’t wait to get started.”
Lou Fusz Athletic
St. Louis, MO
Founded in 1992, Lou Fusz Athletic exists to provide a fun, competitive environment for young athletes to play the Beautiful Game. The goal at LFA is to continually foster the growth of a well-rounded player and person through high-quality coaching, numerous development opportunities, and a focus on integrity and character, thus enabling them to further excel in sport and in life. LFA aims to develop players to maximize technical and tactical game understanding while building teams that achieve consistent success at the highest levels.
“Lou Fusz Athletic is looking forward to competing in the Heartland Conference against other high-caliber clubs,” said Dan Gargan, LFA Managing Director. “ECNL Regional League is taking steps to increase the level of its platform and has assembled a great group to do just that. We very much look forward to seeing the competition out on the field!”
Overland Park, KS
Puma FC was founded by Rob Million and Vladimir Roganovic in 2010. Since its founding, the values associated with the club have remained the same as today: family, friends, competition, and community. Due to the strong foundation of family values, Puma FC has grown every year since its inception. The club will reach more than 1,500 athletes with teams playing in both recreation and against premier league teams from many different parts of the Kansas City Metro area and surrounding communities.
“Puma FC is excited and privileged to join the ECNL Boys Regional League,” said Adam Lamb, Puma FC Director of Coaching. “The ECNL has built and continues to develop an incredible platform that will allow us to offer our players a next-level experience. We are proud to offer this amazing opportunity to our boys membership. Being able to add the ECNL platform allows us the opportunity to grow and develop our elite level players and the club as a whole.”
Sporting Blue Valley
Overland Park, KS
Sporting Blue Valley was founded in 1977 with the goal to provide area youth with a fun, safe recreational league. In the 40-plus years since, Sporting Blue Valley has expanded to include more than 120 teams, ranging from U-8 to U-19 age groups. In the spring of 2011, Blue Valley Soccer Club became a Sporting KC Academy affiliate and one of the founding members of the Sporting Club Network.
“Sporting Blue Valley is excited to participate in the newly formed ECNL Boys Regional League – Heartland and we look forward to utilizing the platform that ECNL offers on a national basis,” said Jon Parry, Sporting Blue Valley Boys Director of Coaching. “This new league will provide our players with additional opportunities to play more meaningful games on a consistent basis as we look to qualify for the ECNL Regional League – Heartland Conference in 2022.”
Sporting Springfield seeks to develop elite competitors on and off the soccer field. This is accomplished by providing the high level of education and training necessary for each individual player to be their best on and off the field. As an Academy Affiliate with Sporting Kansas City, Sporting Springfield offers opportunities that no other program can in southwest Missouri, resulting in a program that elevates the level of youth soccer in the region, while also offering extensive benefits that will directly impact the improvement of Sporting Springfield players.
“Sporting Springfield is extremely excited to join the ECNL Boys Regional League – Heartland, and all that comes with this outstanding league,” said Eric Sorlie, Executive Director of Coaching. “The ability to play top-level competition is paramount for our players to continually develop. The opportunity to play games at home, something our teams do not experience after they reach a certain competitive level, is met with the widest of arms as well. This platform will also allow our coaching resources to come together more, which in turn grows the player’s abilities. We are looking at a holistic improvement for our club and cannot wait to get started!”
Sporting St. Louis
St. Louis, MO
Founded in 2010 as the Woodson City Rangers, the organization became Sporting St. Louis in 2012. Sporting St. Louis has since grown to more than 1,200 members and joins ECNL looking to make its mark on the national stage. A relatively young club, Sporting St. Louis aims to give its athletes the proper platforms to continue to grow and develop locally, regionally and nationally.
“We are very excited to have our boys competing in the ECNL Regional League,” said Dave Beck, Sporting St. Louis Boys Director. “We believe this platform will provide our teams, coaches, and players the opportunity to continue to develop and make strides within the youth soccer landscapes. We feel that as our club continues to grow with many different platforms across the country, the ECNL Regional League is a great place for that continued growth and development.”
About the ECNL:
The ECNL is the nation’s leading youth soccer development platform. The ECNL respects and celebrates the unique individuality of every youth soccer player and club, supporting and enabling them to unleash their unfettered passion and fierce tenacity in striving to achieve their potential.
The ECNL mission to Raise the Game is a total commitment to create the best possible environment for players, coaches, referees and administrators, with a determination to constantly question convention and challenge the status quo in youth sports.
The ECNL Commitment:
We will lead, set our eyes on new horizons, and pursue them relentlessly. Born out of the belief in a better way. Continued in the ever-evolving pursuit of excellence.