3 Ways to Increase Your Chances for D1 College Recruitment

U.S. college soccer: “The Best Amateur League in the World” 

Very few countries offer the same professional training environment with complimentary education. It’s actually pretty rare. No wonder so many people seek the opportunity in the states.

With so much international and domestic competition, how in the world do you increase your chances for D1 college recruitment?


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College Soccer’s Demand in the United States

College soccer recruitment spots are in high demand and low supply. 

Every year, roughly 900 male and 2,365 female first-year recruits are recruited to DI schools. Roughly 1,964 male and 2,200 female first-year recruits are recruited to DII schools (1). 

There are simply not enough recruitment spots for every high school player. In fact, under 13% of all high school soccer players get recruited to play college.

As the college division level increases, the chances of a high school soccer player being recruited for college tend to decrease. This is especially true for male players. The table below states the percentage of high school players recruited into college soccer (5).

DI recruitment spots are very limited, even for boys playing at top U.S. youth clubs. It is estimated that 5,180 male players play for a USL Academy, MLS Next, or ECNL National team in any given recruiting year (2). If all DI recruits came from these three leagues, only 17% of players would be recruited.

Girls playing at top clubs have a greater chance of playing at the DI level. In 2020-2021, the top two leagues, ECNL and the Girls Academy, consisted of 193 clubs combined. If we assume all teams have 20 players, that’s 2,340 players battling for 2,365 DI recruitment spots.

College Soccer’s Demand Internationally

U.S. players aren’t just competing against homegrown talent. The chance to earn a degree and play in a professional environment is attractive to players from around the world. 

More coaches are now looking abroad for their recruits. According to statistics from the NCSA, 74% DI, 70% DII, and 33% DIII coaches recruit internationally (3).

International recruitment rates are rising. Since 2015, international recruitment by DI colleges has increased by 11% (1).  

International players now make up a significant portion of DI recruitment. The table below shows the percentage of first-year players recruited internationally in 2020 (1).

What Does This Mean for You?

Unfortunately, there are fewer DI spaces for homegrown players. The more coaches recruit internationally, the less they recruit at home.

International players potentially draw more scholarships than homegrown players, too. Scott Martin, a DIII men’s head coach, believes that international players are recruited to be influential assets (2). So, they usually win the scholarship funds.

That means U.S. players lose scholarship allowance. 

These effects are much more significant in men’s than women’s soccer. The reason for the disparity is highly subjective.

Keep in mind that the U.S. only accounts for 1.02% of all male and 5.86% of all female participants. That’s a big difference between sexes. It’s also a reality check that, truthfully, there’s a lot of talent out there.

3 Ways to Increase Your Chances for DI College Recruitment

There are three things you can do now to increase your chances for college recruitment. Some effort in these areas goes a long way.

1. Lower your recruitment cost

Coaches are spending more athletic scholarships on international recruits. Good academics will increase your chance of earning academic funding, which does the coach a favor.

2. Market yourself well

Put yourself out there. Do not make it hard for them to find you. If they are not aware of you as an athlete, they can’t recruit you.

  • Send them your highlight video
  • Email them when you are playing nearby
  • Attend in-person camps
  • Play club soccer

Why play club soccer? Because 88% of female and 77% of male college soccer players played at the club level (4). 

3. Play DII or DIII

DII international recruitment has only increased by 1% since 2015 (1). Many players recruited to these levels transfer to DI colleges after a season or two. Get your foot in the door, prove yourself, and then move up.

Give Yourself Every Chance

College recruitment is becoming more and more competitive. As more coaches look abroad for new recruits, you have to stand out. 

Make sure you are doing everything you can to give yourself the advantage over other prospects.


  1. NCAA Demographics https://ncaaorg.s3.amazonaws.com/research/demographics/2021RES_ISATrendsDivSprt.pdf
  2. Scott Martin https://scottmartinmedia.com/blogs/news/hes-a-d1-player-but-is-he-ncaa-d1-mens-soccer-data-analysis
  3. NCAA International Recruiting https://www.ncsasports.org/mens-soccer/international-recruiting
  4. NCAA Recruitment https://www.ncsasports.org/recruiting/how-to-get-recruited/club-sports
  5. NCAA College Athletics https://www.ncaa.org/sports/2015/3/2/estimated-probability-of-competing-in-college-athletics.aspx

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