Todd Stauber’s PacNW B01 Maroon boys — seen here winning last year’s State Championship trophy — won their division in the Far West Regional League this fall, earning an automatic spot in June’s US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals.
When Washington Youth Soccer's top teams want to test themselves against the best, they sign up for the Far West Regional League. And more often than not, they prove themselves worthy.
This year's US Youth Soccer Far West Regional League — the premier league competition for club teams in the 14 Western states that comprise Region IV, divided into Northwest, California and Desert divisions — has had a decidedly evergreen flair to it, with Washington Youth Soccer teams currently ranking first in 10 of the league's 14 Northwest divisions.
Teams competing in the Far West Regional League play games against other highly ranked teams from throughout Region IV, as determined by success in past US Youth Soccer competitions. That high level of competition — along with the automatic berth to June's US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships — is a big draw for many of the state's top coaches and clubs.
"We decided to do the Far West Regional League because it gave us a chance to play against different clubs that we typically don't play in Washington, and because it gives us another path to earn a spot at Regionals," says Todd Stauber, boys' coaching director at PacNW Soccer Club, which had two teams win their divisions in this year's FWRL. "It’s different teams and different players than what we see week in and week out here in Washington in the RCL, and I think that pushes them when they are playing in an unfamiliar environment."
By virtue of their win, Stauber's PacNW B01 Maroon (and the U12 girls team PacNW B02 Maroon, which Stauber doesn't coach) earned an automatic berth to Far West Regionals in June. Stauber says the extra six months to prepare will be valuable, as will the competition in the FWRL.
"It’s nice that we’ve won the FWRL and we know we’ll be in Boise this summer, but we have a lot of short term goals to achieve before that time, including repeating as the Washington State Champions," he says. " I think playing in as competitive of a league that we have, along with State Cup, is going to prepare us very well for regionals."
In addition to top club teams, the Far West Regional League attracts youth development squads from the region's top professional clubs as well. Both Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer and the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League entered youth squads in the FWRL this fall — indeed, the Thorns made the FWRL their primary league in 2014, a testament to the high level of competition.
"The goal of the Portland Thorns Academy is to identify and keep local talent and to develop players to play at the highest level," says Thorns Academy director Tina Ellertson, who starred for the Washington Huskies and U.S. Women's National Team before turning to coaching. “We are grateful for the opportunity to play in this league as we feel that the FWRL can best help us provide our players the competitive level required to prepare them to reach their goals of playing at the next level." says Thorns Academy director Tina Ellertson, who starred for the Washington Huskies and U.S. Women's National Team before turning to coaching.
Stauber says that regardless of what happens at Regionals this spring, his teams will definitely be back in the Far West Regional League next fall.
"I think the goal of any coach is to develop their players, and in terms of getting additional, meaningful games, the FWRL provides a great platform to help the development of my players and the players in our club," he says. "It has definitely lived up to the expectations and I have seen a lot of growth from Year One to Year Two. We are excited to have our club be part of the FWRL moving forward."
To see full results from this year's Far West Regional League (Northwest Division), click here.