FC Wisconsin Eclipse has fielded teams in the Elite Clubs National League since the girls club was formed in 2012. Now the club's partner program, FC Wisconsin Nationals, will join the ECNL as part of the organization's new boys competition.
The Nationals will be one of nine charter members of the ECNL Boys Midwest Conference when it starts play next fall, the league recently announced. The league will include Under-14 through Under-18/19 age groups.
The other Midwest teams are Indiana's FC Pride, Michigan Wolves, Ohio Elite, Ohio Premier, Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy, St. Louis Scott Gallagher-Illinois, St. Louis Scott Gallagher-Missouri and Michigan's Vardar SC.
"The ECNL has proven itself to be one of the most professionally run leagues in the world and we are extremely proud and excited to be one of the clubs selected," Nationals co-director of coaching Bill Solberg said in a league news release. "This is a great opportunity for the development of our players, and will provide them with the added exposure and opportunities to help them reach their goals of playing at the next level."
The top teams from the ECNL Midwest Conference will earn berths in the new Elite National Premier League, which also will include qualifying teams from selected National Premier Leagues from across the country. The ENPL will be the top boys competition sanctioned by U.S. Club Soccer.
FC Wisconsin Nationals teams played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy through the 2014-15 season. The club, then known as FC Milwaukee Nationals, was one of 68 charter members of the league when it launched in the 2007-08 season.
The Nationals also have played in the NPL's Midwest Developmental League since it started in 2011. With their departure from that competition after the spring 2017 season, the Madison 56ers will be the lone Wisconsin club in the 12-team MDL – which will be one of the ENPL qualifying leagues.
The other MDL members for the 2017-18 season are: Illinois' Campton United and Sockers FC; the Minnesota Thunder and Minnesota Twin Stars; Indy Premier; Nationals from Michigan; Cincinnati United, Columbus Crew and Internationals from Ohio; Pennsylvania's Beadling SC; and Kentucky's Derby City Rovers.