(From original article on http://www.usadultsoccer.com/page/show/996422-elite-amateur-leagues)
US Soccer celebrated its centennial but the game has been around the United States for much longer than that. Amateur soccer clubs began forming in the late 1800’s. Throughout the early history of US Soccer, various professional leagues struggled in creating national leagues due to the physical size of the nation. On the other hand, local amateur and semi-professional leagues strived throughout the US with the game being played by working class and ethnic communities. In the Northeast, leagues were forming in New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. In New England, Boston and Rhode Island had a strong influence. The Midwest saw Chicago, Cleveland and St. Louis put together top leagues. Out West, it spread to Denver, Utah, Los Angeles and San Francisco. For years, those leagues carried the sport for US Soccer, many sponsored by factories or corporations and others through cultural and ethnic organizations.
The National Challenge Cup, which later became the US Open Cup, was first played in 1914 upon the establishment of the US Football Association (now the USSF). The Challenge Cup was open to any professional or amateur team and is the oldest continuous national competition in the US. By 1920’s, the National Challenge Cup became so popular that the National Amateur Challenge Cup was established in 1923 to handle the additional interest. It is now known as the US Amateur Cup. While various professional and semi-professional leagues developed and departed throughout the century, the local amateur leagues organized under member State Associations of US Soccer kept the competitions prolific. The largest numbers of entries for the US Open Cup are from members of US Adult Soccer as many teams go through qualifiers through their State Associations and Regions to earn a place into the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. US Adult Soccer extends the competition for these amateur teams as they contest for the Werner Fricker US Open Cup. In addition, many take part in the US Amateur Cup. Through the years, US Adult Soccer has instituted the US Over-30 & Under-23 Cups, the National Women’s Championships and the National Veterans Cup for these top teams to contend.
Our elite amateur leagues have been the torch bearers of the game in the US. The fruit they produced is seen today with the increased level and participation of soccer from east to west, from north to south. Yet, in so many communities throughout the country at local parks, schools and soccer complexes, we still see the game played at an exceptional passion. We at US Adult Soccer are proud to have these leagues as our members.