Club Atletico adds a second team at the semi-pro level

by CASTL Media

Club Atletico Saint Louis has joined the Midwest Premier League.  The Midwest Premier League is an American amateur and semi-professional soccer league. The league spans primarily the eastern and central portions of the Midwestern United States.

Club Atletico started the NPSL team in 2017 to fill a void in the Saint Louis soccer community developmental pyramid.  The plan was to play college-age level players and provide a true professional developmental platform.  Now that the NPSL team has developed as a staple soccer developmental pillar, it is time to add one more level younger.  Club Atletico will now offer a platform for U16-U19 players.  The MWPL game day roster must consist of 18 players, starting at the age of 17. But the soccer developmental plan is to rotate U17-U19 players from the training pool into the roster mixed with young college players from the NPSL pool to enhance the developmental experience.  The MWPL pool will consist of 30 players between 16-19 yrs old.  The NPSL pool will consist of 30 players at the college and post-grad.

Club Atletico will now have a development ladder starting at the age of 16 and ending at 26.  For ten years, a Saint Louis area player can be a part of the professional developmental structure within the Club Atletico Saint Louis NPSL and MWPL teams.

Club Atletico Head Coach, Ricardo Garza, has strong opinions of soccer development and shared some insight into the new level added to the Club Atletico Saint Louis soccer pyramid.

"First of all, I've been coaching at the Junior College level since 2005. My entire coaching career has been based on finding potential top NCAA college players and recruiting them into our college program. Immersing a diverse group of talented players from 18-20 yrs old from different parts of the country and even the world , then after 18 months, move them on to 4-year Universities. When you bring similar players together then the peak of development has already been reached. But when you bring a diverse level of players with different techniques and soccer culture, you can develop something special. Creating an environment to learn from eachother and balance a team culture has always been our key ingredient to development. Now with the addition to the NPSL plan, the MWPL pool of players can develop in a diverse player pool of talent.

The key to a training environment is not just talent, but game minute management is crucial. If young players do not play minutes against top competition, they cannot replicate the experience in training. The culture of the team has to be inclusive and safe to make mistakes. My career has been built on developing players in a short time and moving them on to higher levels. So I am extremely excited about this project this summer.

When we decided as a family to add a younger component to our Club Atletico Saint Louis model, I was ready to take this on. We needed the right league to allow young players to flourish and develop. The NPSL has proven to be a top league in the country, now being identified in Top Tier 1 in the US Soccer Pyramid. But U17 - U19 players would not flourish in NPSL because the level is too high for that age. Although, we do have top young players with the NPSL team, it takes a special player to be consistent. So we looked into other leagues and found that the Midwest Premier League is a perfect addition to our plans. The MWPL is a regional league with good competition and a place to nurture young players.

We will blend NPSL players with MWPL on the MWPL game day roster so the young 17-19 yr old players can be led by high-level collegiate players. The training environment will be combined to provide an inclusive experience. We have five levels now in our team culture and we will blend all five levels into a daily competitive training experience.

We now can start communicating with high school coaches and club coaches early in the developmental process and offer a place for young players to grow. I am excited for the summer of 2023."
-Ricardo Carza,
Head Coach Club Atletico Saint Louis

Club Atletico will not have open tryouts, we want to have coaches be involved in the process. A public letter will go out to area coaches to nominate their players into the MWPL pool of players. Limited to 30. Stay tuned to to learn more.