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Cleveland United is a competitive travel soccer club based in Johnston County, NC  (Garner / Clayton / Cleveland School area).  Our club is powered by the Greater Cleveland Athletic Association (GCAA) which was originally formed in 1980 and eventually incorporated as a 501c(3) non-profit in 2005.  Cleveland United’s focus is on providing a higher level of competitive soccer while providing area families with an affordable, fun, and flexible environment where players can develop into better soccer players.  


Cleveland United is a member of the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association (NCYSA) which provides the premier environment for youth soccer at the highest levels of competition.  We are an all volunteer run organization governed by NCYSA’s guidance to provide a safe, rewarding experience for young athletes.  As a club, Cleveland United works hard to develop player’s skills on the field and provide an outlet for them to develop in their everyday lives as well to become great soccer players and great people.


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Do you have a child interested in playing soccer, but you are unsure of what level of play they should be participating in? There are a number of different types of youth soccer programs, including Recreational, Academy, Challenge, and Classic.


Cleveland United travel soccer teams are typically engaged in Academy, Challenge or Classic soccer programs depending on that team’s age and development stage.  As a parent, it is important for you to know what level of play your child would be best suited for given their commitment, skill and maturity levels.  The North Carolina Youth Soccer Association has an in-depth description of these different programs here, but Cleveland United has provided a quick run down as well.

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This is typically the initial stage of any player’s development.  The priority at the Recreation level is making the game fun while learning the rules.  It places an emphasis on physical engagement and low levels of competition.  Rec soccer is open to all ages with no tryouts and can be co-ed.  The Recreation program that promotes players to Cleveland United travel teams is run by GCAA.



This a likely next step after recreational soccer.  If an academy program is offered at a particular age group it will be a bridge from rec to a higher level of play.  It is generally for ages 6 to 10 and is more competitive while introducing players to a more structured training environment.  It will focus on technical development and skill.  This level can include travel as well as tournament play.



Challenge is often considered an intermediate step between Academy and Classic soccer, with the main distinguishment being participation in a regionalized scheduling league.  This level of play is considered much higher than Rec and is typically what many consider to be a true ‘travel’ or ‘select’ program.  Challenge level soccer does require open tryouts and does not always guarantee playing time.



Classic Soccer is for older players ages 11 to 18.  This level requires committed, passionate players who must try out for the team and demonstrate a clear choice to continue their development as a soccer player..  Classic teams can practice 2 to 3 times a week and typically attend 2 to 4 tournaments per season.


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