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Identifying Top Soccer Sites Requires International Expedition

By Sam Wigness, 04/27/18, 11:45AM CDT

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Ranking the best club soccer websites is a test of geography, endurance

The best sites went above and beyond in every category, and the Top 5 underwent intense scrutiny before a little something extra (often found in the Bonus Content category) separated them from the rest of the pack.

With a list of sites that reached across the globe, narrowing down SportsEngine’s Top 5 club soccer websites was not only a lesson in geography and culture but – like the game itself – a challenge in endurance.

We judged each site on its content, design, navigation, team/coaching/recruiting pages and video/photo content. The best sites went above and beyond in every category, and the Top 5 underwent intense scrutiny before a little something extra (often found in the Bonus Content category) separated them from the rest of the pack.

It should be noted that mobile responsiveness was a required criterion for the Top 5, and several sites were disqualified on that basis. Check out the extensive list of honorable mentions for those that barely missed the cut.

 

Number 1

Aztec Soccer

URL: www.aztecsoccer.com

Location: Beverly, Massachusetts

Webmaster: Sandy Mahoney

Use of platform: League, PowerPay, RegistrationSitebuilder

Overview: Aztec Soccer has a variety of teams and developmental programs for athletes on the north shore of Massachusetts between the ages of 18 months and 23 years old. Founded in 2000, it’s mission is to develop complete individuals both on and off the soccer field and provide training to a diverse population of players. 

What we like: A homepage that is unique, easy to navigate and features large images of its athletes that perfectly reflects Aztec’s mission. Aztec Soccer succeeds in organizing a vast array of content and media into a sleek, user-friendly site that has a little something for everyone.

Coaches, recruiting, team pages: Backgrounds and qualifications for coaches and staff is on the Staff Bios page under the About Us top navigation. A College Prep page can be found under the What We Do top navigation and provides resources for players to build their profile, explore college options and features a long list of Aztec alumni who played collegiate soccer. Aztec Soccer is currently between seasons, so team pages are not available, but the Teams top navigation section is broken into pages for each age brackets. These pages give information on tryouts, program highlights, schedules, locations and staff.  

Navigation: The site is organized with just seven top navigation categories – Home, About Us, What We Do, Teams, Aztec Tots, Programs, In the News and Calendar - which is impressive given the wide variety of content. Aztecs social media pages are organized into four tabs at the bottom of the page.

Did you know? Aztec Tots is a program for children ages 18 months to six years that develops motor skills and the most basic skills needed for soccer.

Bonus Content: Along with a great apparel store, Aztec publishes a monthly newsletter on the In the News page and tracks the accomplishments of its former players on its History page.

 

NUMBER 2

FUTSOC

URL: www.futsoc.club

Location: Weston, Florida

Webmaster: Armando Tamayo

Use of platform: PowerPay, RegistrationSitebuilder

Overview: FUTSOC was formed in 1999 at the request of youth soccer players seeking proper training and guidance. It serves players aged 7 to 23 with the motto “Per als Jugadors, Pels Jugardors” (For the Players, By the Players). The club has sent more than 160 to collegiate soccer programs, making good on its mission to “become an integral extension of the central core influence of a child’s life.”

What we like: One-of-a-kind design scheme, scrolling marquee and extensive soccer-intensive content. FUTSOC has everything from nutrition guides to college placement information to an apparel store and an extensive media page complete with game film.

Coaches, recruiting, team pages: FUTSOC’s Club Staff page under the About Us top navigation has headshots and bios for the program’s coaches – many of whom share the surname Tamayo. Under the Programs tab, the College Placement page has a ton of information to help prospective collegiate athletes, including an instructional video from FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman.

Navigation: The site is divided into nine top navigation categories and features a search bar and several clickable buttons for direct access to pages.

Did you know? FUTSOC’s Health tab has pages for hydration, nutrition and concussion protocol. The hydration and nutrition pages have guidelines and meal plans for before, during and after workouts and games.

Bonus Content: The extensive content on the Testimonials page is a great way to discover the club’s strengths and weaknesses, while the By The Numbers page offers a more analytical look.
 

URL: www.fckcsoccer.com

Location: Prairie Village, Kansas

Webmaster: Brad Likens

Use of platform: League, PowerPay, RegistrationSitebuilder

Overview: FC Kansas City overs a variety of soccer and futsal programs for boys and girls ages 3-18 including US Development Academy teams for 14-19 year old girls at the top of their game. The club's mission is “to provide an exceptional youth soccer training experience in a professional and fun environment.”

What we like: Heavy use of graphics, crisp homepage design and robust content. From the top of the homepage to the coaches’ bios, FCKC puts a face to nearly every name and uses clickable graphics as part of its navigation.

Coaches, recruiting, team pages: The Coaches page, which has its own top navigation tab, is truly a marvel. Each coach has a headshot and bio ranging from two words to more than a thousand. Clicking on “details” brings up license and contact information. FCKC is partnered with College Fit Finder and provides a ton of information on its College Prep page under the Progams top navigation tab. The team pages do not disappoint as they are complete with rosters, schedules/results and, you guessed it, photos.

Navigation: There are seven top navigation categories that organize the site’s information. However, most pages can be accessed via clickable graphics further down the homepage.

Did you know? The Gear & Spiritwear store found in the Resources tab has a wide selection of Nike apparel for players and fans. A portion of the proceeds go to the club scholarship program.

Bonus Content: In addition to the scholarship program, FKCK has pages dedicated to nutrition and character matters to further benefit its players.

 

URL: www.cantonunited.org

Location: Canton, Ohio

Webmaster: Damien Marchione

Use of platform: PowerPay, RegistrationSitebuilder

Overview: Founded in 2008, Canton United SC is a sister organization of Cleveland United Soccer Club. Together, the clubs have more than 60 teams in northeast Ohio for boys and girlsages 4-18. Canton United’s mission is to provide professional coaching and club structure to improve the lives of players from all backgrounds.

What we like: The stellar homepage design couple with robust media content. From up-to-date news articles to videos, Canton United has media to keep every visitor informed and entertained. I personally suggest watching the video on the Goalkeeper Training page under the Skills Programs tab.

Coaches, recruiting, team pages: Canton United has great bio pages for each of their coaches found on the Staff page under the Club Info top navigation. The College Recruitment page under the High School top navigation busts the three greatest myths in college recruiting.

Navigation: The site is organized into nine top navigation categories, but could probably combine a few categories for streamlining purposes. There are also three clickable graphics for 2017-2018 Tryouts, Future Stars Academy and Skills Programs up top on the homepage.

Did you know? Canton United was awarded “Top Developmental Club” by Ohio North Youth Soccer Association in each of the last four years and provides year round off-season training.

Bonus Content: The Club Info top navigation tab houses pages including Parent Education, Coaches Expectations, Spirit Wear and Apparel and Skills Club. The Skills Club has a list of the top juggling achievements by Canton United players. Marcus Wittlinger recorded 1,528 juggles as a U-13 player!

 

URL: www.houstondynamoacademy.com

Location: Houston, Texas

Webmaster: Liliana Cardenas

Use of platform: PowerPay, RegistrationSitebuilder

Overview: Dynamo Academy aims to provide Houston area players ages 8-23 with the training and structure needed to reach the highest levels of competitive soccer, including the Dynamo First Team in the MLS.

What we like: Sleek, straight-to-the-point design, especially in the grid of clickable graphics halfway down the homepage. Houston Dynamo Academy reflects the style of its MLS affiliate while creating and identity of its own.

Coaches, recruiting, team pages: The Staff page lists the education and qualifications for every coach from the Director of Player Development to the Head Athletic Trainer. The Recruitment page is full of information on scout identification, talent identification opportunities and trial opportunities. Each team page has a team photo and rosters complete with player headshots, date of birth, position and graduation year.

Navigation: The site has 12 top navigation categories that can also be viewed in the clickable graphic grid lower on the homepage. The sheer volume of top navigation is a little clunky, but the content is well organized and available in other languages via Google translator.

Did you know? Houston Dynamo Academy offers a mentoring program in which players in eighth grade and beyond can customize their path to academic and athletic success.

Bonus Content: The Homegrown Players page lists Houston Dynamo alumni who have graduated to collegiate and professional soccer and has some great video content at the bottom.

 

THE NEXT BEST

Here are more outstanding sites that were in our final judging mix but didn't crack our top groups:


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Blaine Soccer Club

The Minnesota-based club makes a strong initial impression with its splashy design, and the eye-catching graphics continue throughout the site. The navigation makes it easy to find information on upcoming camps, clinics and other training opportunities.


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Annandale United FC

Annandale has a great homepage and would have cracked the Top 5 if not for a few pages in need of updating. Regardless, AUFC maintains its status as the top club in Northern Virginia.


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California Premier League

Mix attractive design with well-organized content and you get yet another site that was a strong Top-5 contender. Oh, and there's great content, too. The New to Soccer page, in particular, is one of our favorites.


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Chattanooga Football Club Academy

Another well-designed site that was strongly considered for the Top 5. Chattanooga does well in incorporating video, including live streams of club events.


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Chicago City Soccer Club

We loved the Chicago skyline in the background of this homepage. Chicago City was one of many FC Bayern affiliates that were strongly considered for the Top 5.


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Chicago Fire Network

Chicago Fire has too many great sites to put just one in the Top 5. The network reaches from Florida to Michigan and has programs for players ages 4-18.


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Eleven United Soccer Club

What else says soccer like the blue mesh in the background of Eleven United’s homepage? This site is well-organized with great information for parents, players and coaches.


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Gulf Coast United FC

Gulf Coast United is definitely worth visiting for its photo galleries and resources for college-bound players. It also has one of the most comprehensive coaches pages that we came across.

Liverpool FC America

We love the gorgeous red, black and yellow color scheme as well as the generous use of photos on each of its regional homepages in Liverpool's sprawling network of sites. Another site that looks and functions great in a mobile setting.


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Maplebrook Soccer Club

Maplebrook has a well-designed homepage with a lot of great features. We especially love the slideshows on the Photo Album page under Club Info.


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Nationals Soccer Club

Great homepage strikes just the right mix of club news, featured events, key sections within the site and call-outs to partners and sponsors. The club's Connect2U Business Network is unique to anything we've seen.


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New England Futbol Club

We love the look and navigation on the minimalist homepage, which is designed direct viewers to the club's most important content (club store, development academy, NEFC Park). The CORE Moves pages offers 29 instructional videos created by the club's staff.


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New York Soccer Club

With its sleek, modern homepage and robust content, NYSC just barely missed a spot in the Top 5 club soccer sites and would have benefitted from more extensive coaching bios.

 


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Ohio Elite Soccer Academy

Combine sleek, responsive design smart placement of photos and multiple sections loaded with quality content, and you get yet another standout site. 


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Ohio Premier Soccer Club

We loved the national championship banners hanging on the Ohio Premier homepage and College Prospects page. The extensive documentation of the key moments in the club's history on the appropriately named Club History page was another big plus.


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Sporting Kansas City Affiliates

With 15 Sporting soccer clubs in the Midwest, many of which had well-designed websites with great content, it was impossible to choose just one to put in the Top 5.

Honorable Mention

Here are more outstanding sites that were in our final judging mix but didn't crack our top groups:

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