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A Guide to College Men’s Soccer Tournaments and Showcases

men's soccer player at a tournament

Playing in soccer tournaments is a great way to show college coaches that you can compete with other elite players. Knowing how to stand out at a soccer tournament and which ones to attend are key to getting recruited. Find soccer tournaments near you with our complete list below and get answers to top questions about soccer tournaments.  

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Top questions about soccer tournaments and showcases 

What are the different types of soccer tournaments?

League play: League play is a group of soccer teams that are scheduled to compete against one another based on a predetermined schedule. 

Knockout tournaments: These tournaments are run elimination style, meaning the loser of each game is immediately eliminated from the tournament. 

Round-robin tournaments: In a round-robin tournament every team participating competes against every other team. Unlike knockout tournaments, participants in a round-robin tournament are eliminated after multiple losses.  

Group stage: Group stage tournaments divide the competing teams into multiple groups. Within these groups, participants will play round-robins style. Once there is a winning team from each group, those winners then go on to compete against each other round-robin style until one winner remains. 

Cup competition: Cup competitions are generally run the same way as knockout tournaments, making them single elimination. The winner of is awarded a “cup” trophy.
Continental competitions: At the Continental Football Cup each FIFA football confederation builds an all-star team from its member countries to compete for the championship. 

International tournaments: The largest international soccer tournament is the FIFA Club World Cup. This tournament features the winners of each continental club competition in an international tournament.

Do college coaches recruit at soccer tournaments? 

D1 programs and top schools at other division levels do most of their recruiting at tournaments and showcases. Here’s why. During a typical soccer tournament, teams will play up to 3-5 games in a single weekend which allows college coaches to evaluate a lot of recruits in one place. Plus, they get to see the top club teams compete against one another. Tournaments attract a lot of college coaches, but keep in mind they have a lot of kids on their list to watch. It is rare for a college coach to watch a full game. That’s why it’s extremely important you make the most of every minute you step foot on the pitch and coaches are on the sidelines. 

At a soccer tournament, teams can play up to 3-5 games in a single weekend - allowing college coaches to evaluate multiple recruits in one place.

How to get invited to play in soccer tournaments and showcases 

You need to play for or belong to a club team to get invited to soccer tournaments and showcases. There are a lot of boys’ soccer clubs that exist within your state or region, and each will fall under a larger umbrella of national leagues or programs. It’s important to find a club that can help place your athlete on a team that best fits their skills and division level. You may play for the top soccer club but if you’re not getting active playing time, you won’t get seen by college coaches. It’s also important to find out which tournaments and showcases the club attends so you can make sure college coaches will be in attendance.  

Can you guest play in soccer tournaments? 

Absolutely! If your club team isn’t playing a particular tournament that you know you want to attend. You have options. Every soccer showcase or tournament will have a guest player registration form, which you can complete and have a team assigned to you.  

However, clubs don’t want their players to ultimately switch programs so they may be hesitant to encourage athletes to guest play for another team. Just remember that this is your recruiting process. So, if guest playing for another team gives you the best chance to be seen by the college coaches of your choice – do it. Don’t be afraid to talk with your club coach, they can help you find ways to get your athlete the exposure they need. 

What do college coaches look for at soccer tournaments? 

Coaches attend soccer tournaments to further evaluate their list of top recruits as well as find younger talent to start building out the next recruiting class.  

Here are the most common things coaches look for during a soccer game:  

Will a college coach find you at a soccer tournament? 

The most important thing you can do to increase your chances of being recruited at a soccer tournament is to let college coaches know where you’ll be. As soon as you receive your club’s tournament schedule, email the college coaches at your target schools and ask them to come watch you play. Provide the showcase field assignment, kick off time, your jersey color and number if possible. Send a follow up email about 2 weeks before the event. 

Keep in mind, college coaches often plan which camps and soccer tournaments they will be attending at the beginning of each recruiting year. If you don’t see a certain college on the event list, it’s OK. They could be attending another tournament that you’ll be playing at. Ask the coaches at your target schools which tournaments they plan on attending so you can make sure they’ll have a chance to see you play. 

What if a coach doesn’t see you play in a soccer tournament? 

Coaches have a lot of players to watch at soccer tournaments, so they probably won’t see every game you play. If possible, ask your parents or club soccer coach to record your tournament games. The video footage you collect can be used to update your highlight video, which you can send to college coaches.   

Collect video footage from soccer tournaments to send to college coaches.

How much does it cost to play in soccer tournaments? 

Showcase and tournament fees are typically included within your club or league membership. However, you should be prepared for travel, lodging and meal costs. Depending on the level, membership dues can range from $2,500 to $5,000 per year. Plus, some teams have a registration fee. These costs typically cover salaries, league and referee fees, state and national registration fees, and player insurance and player development programs.  

What are the best soccer tournaments for recruiting? 

US Youth Soccer and US Club Soccer both offer a lengthy list of tournaments held throughout the year. Soccer America Magazine surveyed leading youth coaches across the country and asked them to name the best tournaments for boys’ soccer. They considered: competition, organization, facilities, showcase, destination. Here are the top 5 ranked youth soccer tournaments: 

What are major events in soccer? 

The most important soccer event at the college level is the NCAA D1 Men’s Soccer Championship, often referred to as the College Cup. This annual soccer match determines the D1 men’s national champion. Teams must qualify for and participate in the playoffs for a chance to complete at the championship. 


Soccer tournaments allow you to play with and against some of the best high school soccer players in the nation while gaining exposure to college coaches. Let coaches know which tournaments you’ll be playing in! Access college coach contact information through your NCSA Recruiting Profile. Create a free profile today.   

Learn more about the different types of soccer events: