Got Soccer & Soccer Tournaments - How To Choose & Get Into The Best Soccer Tournament

Here's everything we've included in this article:

Is Going To A Soccer Tournament Even Necessary?

  • What Are The Benefits Of Attending A Soccer Tournament?

  • What Type Of Soccer Tournament Is Best For Recruiting?

What Is Got Soccer?

  • How Does Got Soccer Affect My Son or Daughter’s Team?

  • How Does My Team Earn Got Soccer Points?

  • What Do Got Soccer Rankings Mean?

  • What Else Can My Team Do To Be Accepted Into A Soccer Tournament?

What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing A Soccer Tournament?

11 Of The Best Boys Got Soccer Tournaments In The Country (with links!)

11 Of The Best Girls Got Soccer Tournaments In The Country (with links!)

What About Non-Got Soccer Tournaments?

What About State Cup and Regional/National Championships?

What About International Soccer Tournaments?

What If My Team Isn’t Going To The Soccer Tournament I Want To Go To?

Soccer Tournament Summary & Next Steps

Let's get started!

Is Going To A Soccer Tournament Even Necessary?

Your son or daughter likely plays in a league and for his/her high school team, and if you read our blog post about camps, you know how powerful they can be. So why spend the additional time and money on going to a soccer tournament?

The truth is, there are benefits of attending a soccer tournament that your son or daughter can’t get otherwise, making them an extremely integral part of the recruiting process.

What Are The Benefits Of Attending A Soccer Tournament?

Attending a soccer tournament offers three main benefits to your hopeful college soccer player:

  • More exposure

  • Being evaluated in a comfortable environment

  • Developmental experience

The most popular soccer tournaments often draw hundreds of coaches, which is many more than any camp can offer. While not every soccer tournament boasts those numbers, attending a soccer tournament opens up the possibility of more exposure for your son or daughter.

Soccer players, especially young soccer players, play their best soccer when they’re playing with their normal team. Your son or daughter knows where to be and what to do, what his or her teammates are thinking, and what his or her coach expects. When college coaches are evaluating with a critical eye, you want your son or daughter to be as comfortable as possible, and soccer tournaments offer that opportunity.

While most soccer tournaments force players to play too many games in too short a period of time, they do provide positive developmental opportunities. Playing in front of college coaches will help your future college soccer player to perform under pressure. Additionally, playing in a soccer tournament often gives teams the opportunity to play new teams, which provides new challenges that result in growth. Lastly, if the soccer tournament requires a hotel stay, your son or daughter will improve his or her ability to play on the road, an important skill to have as a college soccer player.

What Type Of Soccer Tournament Is Best For Recruiting?

You can sift through hundreds of soccer tournaments online, but the ones to focus on almost always have the word “showcase” in their name. By labeling itself as a showcase, a soccer tournament implies that college coaches will be in attendance.

There are some other kinds of soccer tournaments that are great for recruiting as well, and we highlight them towards the end of this article.

What Is Got Soccer?

Got Soccer is a registration platform that allows teams to register for soccer tournaments. Chances are, you have a Got Soccer account that was created when you registered your son or daughter for his or her club team.

When your son or daughter’s club team registers for a soccer tournament, your coach or team manager likely does so through Got Soccer. Got Soccer facilitates the registration process for most soccer tournaments in the country. We note some important non-Got Soccer tournaments at the bottom of this post.

How Does Got Soccer Affect My Son or Daughter’s Team?

Got Soccer affects your son or daughter’s team in two ways:

  • Soccer tournament acceptance

  • Soccer tournament placement

Some soccer tournaments accept every team that applies, but the higher level soccer tournaments, with the most college coaches in attendance, often don’t have the field space to accommodate all the teams that apply. In such cases, the soccer tournament director and/or committee must determine which teams to accept based on their level of play.

Most soccer tournaments have different “flights”. In the top flight, the best teams compete against each other. In the next flight down, the next best teams play, and so on. Naturally, college coaches tend to prioritize their time watching the top flights and then work their way down if they have the time. Once again, soccer tournament directors and/or committees must rank teams against one another.

In both cases, soccer tournament acceptance and placement, Got Soccer points and rankings (we’ll explain what those are next) can play a role in the process. Got Soccer points and rankings are far from perfect, but their intention is to allow soccer tournaments to compare teams to one another. Ideally, the higher the number of Got Soccer points and the higher the Got Soccer ranking, the better the team is (we’ll explain why this assumption is limited in a bit).

While we, at Contact Coaches, strongly discourage soccer tournaments to do so, some tournament directors and/or committees heavily rely on Got Soccer to make their decisions. Thankfully, more and more soccer tournaments are recognizing the limitations of Got Soccer points and rankings and devoting the resources to enhanced processes. For example, Jefferson Cup delves deep into each team’s past results and compares common opponents with other applied teams.

Unfortunately, as long as Got Soccer points and rankings exist, they’ll remain a part of the acceptance and placement process for some tournaments. This sad fact means that you, as a parent who loves your kid, are encouraged to “play the game”. The same holds true for coaches who and clubs that care about their players.

How Does My Team Earn Got Soccer Points?

In order to play the Got Soccer game, you should understand the rules, which, funnily enough, will highlight its limitations! To earn Got Soccer points, your son or daughter’s team must play in soccer tournaments (or a certain league that rewards Got Soccer points).

Got Soccer awards points to teams based on where they finish in a given soccer tournament flight (or league). Got Soccer explains its point system in this article.

In short, each flight in each tournament has a certain number of Got Soccer points attached to it. The number of points is based on the level of teams (as determined by Got Soccer points, of course - SMH) in the flight. At the end of the tournament, the flight winners receive the most points, flight finalists the next most, and so on. However, teams that don’t reach the quarterfinals receive zero points.

Knowing that information, don’t you think it’s best to win as many soccer tournament flights as possible? Why would a team challenge itself in a higher-level soccer tournament or flight when it could win a lower-level one? Risk not making the quarterfinals? No thanks! Forget about development!

And remember, college coaches prioritize the higher-level flights, so now you’re stuck in a catch-22! Unless your son or daughter isn’t at the recruiting age yet, then who cares?! Got Soccer points are awarded starting in August of a team’s U11 year! Although Got Soccer points expire after a year, they can have a domino effect on the future tournaments and flights a team is accepted into.

One other note...your son or daughter’s team can also earn Got Soccer points through USYS State Cup, if they at least reach the semifinals. To see exactly how those points are awarded, check out this Got Soccer post.

What Do Got Soccer Rankings Mean?

As you now know, the awarding of Got Soccer points is an imperfect system. Considering Got Soccer rankings are based on the number of Got Soccer points teams have, they’re flawed as well. Generally speaking, Got Soccer rankings don’t mean much.

Is there a difference between the #5 team in your state and the #100 team? Maybe. But then again, maybe the #100 team is new and hasn’t had the opportunity to attend many soccer tournaments.

There are also certain leagues (like ECNL and the former US Development Academy) whose teams don’t usually play in Got Soccer tournaments, so the rankings are far from exhaustive.

What Else Can My Team Do To Be Accepted Into A Soccer Tournament?

As I mentioned above, some soccer tournaments put more work into reviewing applications than just looking at Got Soccer points. In those cases, soccer tournament directors and/or committees take into account several factors:

  • Recent results

  • Last year’s tournament results

  • Extra information included in the application

  • Relationship with coach and/or club

When it comes to recent results, soccer tournaments typically only look at other Got Soccer tournaments and leagues. The most valuable results, from their perspective, are those against highly ranked teams, those against other teams that applied, and those from similar tournaments.

If your son or daughter’s team played in the soccer tournament last year, how they did will play a role in their acceptance and placement this year. Attending the same soccer tournament year in and year out is a great way to establish a rapport with them. It’s also easier to get into soccer tournaments at a younger age, so your team can establish a relationship over the years.

If your son or daughter’s team has a unique situation, like it’s a newly formed team or it just picked up some very good new players, that information should be included in the Got Soccer application.

Lastly, over time, soccer tournaments develop relationships with certain coaches and clubs, whether that’s due to the amount or quality of teams that attend the tournament. Keep that fact in mind when selecting the best coach or club for your son or daughter.

What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing A Soccer Tournament?

Let’s be tournaments are a business. A big business, in fact. And they cost you a lot of time, money, and other resources.

So how do you sift through all the marketing to determine which soccer tournaments are best for your son or daughter? Here are the nine factors to consider:

  1. Coaches in Attendance

  2. Interest Level

  3. Applied Teams

  4. Location

  5. Cost

  6. Field Layout

  7. Chance of Being Accepted

  8. Potential for Cancellation

  9. Number/Combination

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Soccer Tournament Factor #1: Coaches In Attendance

When you go to a soccer tournament’s website (top tournament websites listed below!), there should be a link to view coaches in attendance. College coaches are able to register to attend through Got Soccer, which gives you the ability to see who says they’ll be there.

Oftentimes, you’ll also be able to see which college coaches attended the soccer tournament in the past. Usually that information is listed by year, so focus on the last year or two. Be wary of soccer tournaments that list all past coaches together, as it can be very misleading. Believe me, I still occasionally get emails about a soccer tournament I recruited at ten years ago!

Generally speaking, the more coaches in attendance, the better chance for exposure for your son or daughter. Below, we’ll explain some reasons why that may not be the case.

It’s very important to note that just because a soccer coach is registered to attend a specific soccer tournament does not mean that he or she will actually be there. The list of attending coaches is usually pretty accurate, but just know that it’s not a guarantee. Keep your eye out for coaches who are registered to attend every soccer tournament. Chances are they won’t actually be at every one.

Soccer Tournament Factor #2: Interest Level

Just like soccer camps, the level of interest (a) your son or daughter has in a given school and (b) that school has in him or her is a critical factor to consider when determining which soccer tournament(s) to attend.

Unlike camps, however, teams attend soccer tournaments, rather than individual players. Throughout your son or daughter’s recruiting years, he or she will likely be on a team full of players with a variety of different interests when it comes to the type of college they want to go to. If you don’t end up going to tournaments that make sense for your son or daughter, see our section near the end of this post about other options.

In order to pick the best tournament(s) for your son or daughter, he or she has to know which schools interest him or her! Encourage your college soccer hopeful to complete Step 1 & 2 of the 7 Steps Along the Recruiting Pathway and use our Recruiting Dashboard to identify and tier schools of interest.

When considering a soccer tournament, compare the list of college coaches attending with your son or daughter’s list of schools. Try to attend soccer tournaments with the most commonalities between the two lists. You can use our Recruiting Dashboard to keep track of which coaches are attending which soccer tournaments.

Soccer Tournament Factor #3: Applied Teams

As a given soccer tournament draws near, it will usually list all applied teams on its website. This information will give you an idea of the overall level of the tournament, as well as the chance of acceptance and likely placement of your son or daughter’s team.

The quality of soccer tournaments can change from year to year, and you don’t want to waste your time and money.

Soccer Tournament Factor #4: Location

The location of a soccer tournament plays a huge role for both you and college coaches.

For you, the location of a soccer tournament has a large impact on the cost involved. Also, soccer tournaments can be a good opportunity to visit colleges nearby. Visiting a school of interest really helps your son or daughter determine what he or she thinks of that school and program.

College soccer is not the same as college football. Coaches have fairly restrictive recruiting budgets, especially coaches of lower-level programs. If a coach can drive to and from a soccer tournament, they’re more likely to attend than if they have to fly and/or rent a hotel room. If your son or daughter wants to go to college in a certain reason, make sure you go to at least one soccer tournament in that region.

Soccer Tournament Factor #5: Cost

There are a lot of costs involved with attending soccer tournaments. Of course there’s the tournament registration fee, but that’s often one of the least expensive ticket items.

Transportation and accommodation usually make the biggest dent in your wallet. Even if it’s a local tournament, you’ll probably be spending gas money. Keep in mind where overnight soccer tournaments are located. How much will flights cost to get there? Are hotels expensive in that area?

Food can be another big expense during soccer tournaments. Teams love having big team dinners, so keep that cost in mind as well. Meals in Las Vegas are more expensive than in Des Moines.

Lastly, some soccer tournaments will incur random, miscellaneous costs, like parking. Disney charges spectators (that’s you!) to enter ESPN Wide World of Sports to watch your son or daughter play. And if you go to Bethesda, watch out for those speed cameras, or you’ll get a nice bill in the mail when you get home!

A popular way to cut down on all these costs is through fundraising, either individually or as a team. Take advantage of that option if you need to.

Soccer Tournament Factor #6: Field Layout

The field layout of a given soccer tournament should be a serious consideration when it comes to choosing whether or not to attend. If games are spread out across multiple venues, it makes it hard for college coaches to see as much as they’d like.

The ideal soccer tournament has one venue. Unfortunately, as soccer tournaments have grown over the years, it’s rare that you find that.

Most soccer tournaments have one main venue and several other complexes. In such cases, the top flights usually take place on the main venue, while the lower-level flights take place either entirely elsewhere or split time among different complexes.

Check soccer tournament websites to determine their field layouts, and look at past results to determine where your son or daughter’s team will likely spend most of its time.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many college coaches are in attendance if none of them are at your son or daughter’s complex.

Soccer Tournament Factor #7: Chance Of Being Accepted

Quite a few months can pass between soccer tournament application and acceptance. Application deadlines are usually several months before the actual tournament, while acceptances often don’t get announced until a month or less ahead of time.

If your son or daughter’s team isn’t accepted, it could leave you scrambling to find another option. The best alternatives may have already passed or closed their application process.

While attending the best possible soccer tournaments is important, at the end of the day, what’s most important is being seen! Be realistic about the chance your son or daughter’s team has of being accepted, and choose tournaments it's likely to be accepted into.

Soccer Tournament Factor #8: Potential For Cancellation

This factor may seem like a strange inclusion, but how does January in Ohio sound? Some soccer tournaments are notorious for being canceled due to weather. Make sure you consider what the chance is for cancellation and check past results to see if the soccer tournament has been canceled before.

Soccer Tournament Factor #9: Number/Combination

While soccer tournaments provide a great opportunity to be seen by college coaches, you can’t send your son or daughter to every single one.

As I mentioned before, soccer tournaments usually pack too many games into too short a time period, so they can be tough on the body. Try to space out the tournaments your son or daughter goes to in order to allow for recovery. Also consider his or her league schedule and other physical activity.

The Got Soccer point system encourages teams to attend as many tournaments as possible (funny...that means more money for Got Soccer!). However, that’s simply not necessary to be recruited. As you know from reading our soccer camp post, college coaches love seeing players in a camp setting as well.

The biggest thing to focus on when selecting the number and combination of soccer tournaments to attend is your son or daughter’s list of schools. Try to get him or her in front of his or her top choices two to three times per year. Remember, our Recruiting Dashboard will help you organize that information.

11 Of The Best Boys Got Soccer Tournaments In The Country

Bethesda Soccer Tournaments - MD

Disney Showcase Soccer - FL

CASL Soccer Tournament - NC

Jefferson Cup Showcase - VA

San Diego Surf College Cup - CA

Dallas Cup - TX

EDP Cup Fall Showcase - NJ

Davis Legacy Showcase - CA

Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup Showcase - NV

Players Showcase - NV

Potomac Memorial Day - MD

11 Of The Best Girls Got Soccer Tournaments In The Country

Bethesda Soccer Tournaments - MD

Disney Showcase Soccer - FL

CASL Soccer Tournament - NC

Jefferson Cup Showcase - VA

San Diego Surf College Cup - CA

Davis Legacy Showcase - CA

Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup Showcase - NV

Players Showcase - NV

Potomac Memorial Day - MD

Penn Fusion Girls Winter Showcase - PA


What About Non-Got Soccer Tournaments?

Some of the best soccer tournaments in the country are non-Got Soccer tournaments. However, you have to be in a certain league in order to participate. For example, the ECNL (the original ECNL, not Boys ECNL) National Events are excellent exposure opportunities.

The US Soccer Development Academy (DA) showcases used to be big-time recruiting events, until the league shut down in April of 2020. The aftermath of that dissolution is still playing out, but this is what we know so far:

On the boys side, the MLS has basically taken over the DA and formed its own league. It has not yet announced the event schedule for the new league, but I imagine it will be very similar to the DA, at least to begin. Not every former DA club is a part of the new league, which could strengthen Boys ECNL a bit.

As far as the girls side, the girls DA was introduced years after the ECNL had established itself as the top girls league in the country. Therefore, the competition level of each league was similar. Since the dissolution of the DA, many DA clubs have rejoined the ECNL, clearly making it the top league in the country.

What About State Cup and Regional/National Championships?

Many clubs play in either the USYS National Championship Series and/or the US Club National Cup. Each competition has state and regional soccer tournaments that lead to a national soccer tournament.

Naturally, as a team advances through one such soccer tournament, the level of competition should increase. College coaches are aware of that, so you should see more coaches as your son or daughter’s team advances through the rounds.

However, don’t expect there to be many, if any, college coaches at State Cup games. If your son or daughter’s team advances to the regional championship, you can expect there to be a group of coaches in attendance.

The number of coaches really depends on the state and region. Some states and regions attract a lot of attention from college coaches, while others don’t.

The same can be said about USYS vs US Club. Which option attracts more college coaches really depends on the state and region.

What About International Soccer Tournaments?

Travelling to play abroad is an incredible opportunity for young soccer players. I can speak from first-hand experience, having traveled to Argentina with my youth team.

While your son or daughter would have a blast, grow as a player, and learn a lot by going to an international soccer tournament, such as Gothia Cup in Sweden, he or she wouldn't see any college coaches there.

Sure, your son or daughter can add an international soccer tournament to his or her player profile that he or she sends to college coaches, but that won’t really do much to separate him or her in the eyes of a college coach.

In short, attending an international soccer tournament will not have a significant impact on your son or daughter’s recruiting process. To be clear, I’m not advising against going to one! Like I said, they make for an extremely valuable experience.

The only international soccer tournaments you may see college coaches at are those in Canada. NCAA soccer programs recruit heavily from Canada, and Canada has its own college soccer system,although it’s very different from its neighbor in the US.

If you’re considering an international soccer tournament, check to see the list of college coaches attending, just as you would with any other soccer tournament.

What If My Team Isn’t Going To The Soccer Tournament I Want To Go To?

Let’s face it: playing a team sport while trying to be recruited as an individual is difficult. What if your son or daughter wants to go to school on the West Coast, but all his or her teammates want to play in the Northeast? Fortunately, you have a couple options:

  1. Guest Play. I’m sure your son or daughter’s team has had a guest player join them at a soccer tournament. Well, guess what. Your son or daughter could be that guest player on another team! There are a few different ways to score a guest playing opportunity:

  2. Contact teams that are going to a specific soccer tournament. Remember that most soccer tournaments list their applied teams. With a little digging, you can find the contact information for each team, or at least for the club they belong to. Have your son or daughter reach out to see if they need any guest players! Treat it like an email to a college coach, including all the useful information. Prioritize teams that are local to you, if possible.

  3. Register as a guest player. Many soccer tournaments offer the opportunity to register as a guest player looking for a team. Teams in need of an extra player will sometimes check the pool of guest players for a potential addition. This option is more of a long shot, but it’s an easy process and worth an effort!

  4. Attend a Soccer Camp. Sending your son or daughter to a soccer camp can be a great alternative to a specific soccer tournament. For example, if your son or daughter’s team isn’t going to Bethesda Premier Cup in MD, send him or her to Future 500 ID Camp in PA. To learn how to pick the best soccer camp for your son or daughter, check out our post on ID Camps.

Soccer Tournament Summary & Next Steps

I get it...the number of soccer tournaments your son or daughter could attend is overwhelming. And you have to factor in the rest of his or her team, as well as the coach and club!

Take this information and develop a list of ideal soccer tournaments for your son or daughter. Use our Recruiting Dashboard to track which college coaches are attending which tournaments, and prioritize the options.

If his or her team isn’t attending the list of soccer tournaments you come up with, talk to the coach about it. There may be very good, well-thought-out reasons for attending the soccer tournaments your team is planning on. Or maybe not, but you won’t know unless you ask and do your own research!

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