Over the weeks leading up to the 2013 NPL Champions Cup, we will be examining all aspects of the tournament through a multi-part Web series each Thursday. Part I took a look back at the inaugural event last year, Part II featured the host venue of Aurora Sports Park, and Part III broke down the qualifying process.
To keep up with the series and other NPL news:
- Follow @USClubSoccer on Twitter and use the hashtag #NPL
- Like US Club Soccer on Facebook, interact on KYCK and subscribe on YouTube
The 2013 NPL Champions Cup won’t simply follow in the footsteps of the inaugural event last year -- it will mark an expansion of US Club Soccer’s league-based national championship competition.
There will be more teams from more clubs and more leagues on display from July 18-22 at Aurora Sports Park in suburban Denver, and the number of participants will more than double from the 2012 edition.
Expansion from nine to 17 leagues has broadened the National Premier Leagues’ footprint, and winners from each of those NPLs will gather for the "champions league" style competition with chances to make history. In addition to the U-13 through U-18 boys age groups from the 2012 event, girls divisions will also be added this year, and teams will vie to become the first girls champions or to claim the first national title for their club or league.
Last year, five teams from three different leagues were crowned national champions, highlighted by a pair of winners from both the Texas Pre-Academy League and the Midwest Developmental League, alongside one from the Northern Illinois Soccer League (NISL). That leaves 14 NPLs who will be gunning for their first championship this year, with 10 trophies up for grabs.
"The NPL Champions Cup got off to an excellent start last year, and we’re looking forward to an even better event this summer in Colorado," NPL General Manager Chris Baer said. "The addition of girls age groups, more clubs and more leagues will only serve to make the NPL Champions Cup more competitive, and it will showcase the depth and quality of players within the NPL."
So far, more than 80 teams have qualified for the 2013 NPL Champions Cup, and many more will add their names to the list as NPLs wrap up their seasons this summer.
Stay tuned for the next entry in the series, which will detail the unique arrangement of holding the NPL Champions Cup and National Cup Finals side by side.