skip navigation


1. Should my child play Competitive soccer (Express) or Recreational soccer?

Competitive soccer (known as Club or Travel Soccer in some areas) is designed for the higher-skilled, more dedicated soccer player. Encinitas Express's competitive teams have professional, licensed coaches and teams are formed through try-outs. The level of play is higher with the competitive teams, but the costs and time commitments are higher as well. The competitive teams participate in pre- and post-season tournaments (generally beginning in June) and their league season starts in mid-August. Kids who love soccer can begin playing competitive soccer at age 6 (U7’s). More children will try competitive soccer at 8 and 9. Children who begin playing at these age groups will find that their skills and abilities will advance very quickly. Making the switch from Rec to competitive gets more difficult with age.  While there is no optimum time to make the switch to competitive, children from ages 7 thru 10 will find the transition easier than older players.

In Recreational (Rec) soccer, no child is ever “cut” from a team. There are no try-outs and ALL children will play at least 50% of the time during the course of the season. The Rec games are usually played in or near Encinitas (we “game” with Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, and Cardiff in all but Micro, and the U14 and older teams will play throughout North County). The coaches are volunteers (generally parents) who have gone through a licensing program and have also been risk managed. The season lasts from mid-August (the beginning of practice) to the last weekend before Thanksgiving.

2. When does the season begin?

The Encinitas Express Rec Soccer gaming season begins the first Saturday following Labor Day. The games are on Saturdays, with the earliest games starting at 8:00. Team practices begin in mid-August when the Encinitas public school fields open.

3. When do I register?

Walk-in registration is held in March.  Fees are reduced $15 during walk-in registration ($10 for micro.)  Watch this website for details and we also distribute registration dates by e-mail and through the public schools. After walk-in registration has been completed, registration forms can be downloaded from the website and submitted by mail. 

Registration officially closes May 31. We are generally able to place all of those that register after May 31, but create waiting lists when there are not enough players or coaches to form another team. If a child cannot be placed, a full refund will be provided.

4. How much does it cost?

  • Walk-in rates are $130 for Micro and $220 all others. 
  • Mail-in rates are $140 for Micro and $240 all others.
  • There is a $10 late charge for all applications mailed after May 31.

Fees include a uniform (shirt, shorts and socks), a basic photo package, and summer skills clinics.

5. Can I get a refund?

Our refund policy is as follows:

  • From date of registration thru May 31st: 75% refund.
  • June 1st through Jul 31st: 50% refund.
  • August 1st or later: 0% refund.

This policy applies to all players.  Any exceptions must be approved by the Encinitas Express Executive Board. ALL refund requests must be made in writing and submitted to the Rec Administrator. Send written requests to:

Rec Administrator - refunds
1345 Encinitas Blvd.
PMB 225
Encinitas Ca 92024

6. When will I hear from the coach?

The teams are formed during the summer. Practices begin mid-August with the start of the elementary school year. Coaches get their practice assignments around Aug 1 and will contact their players after that. Your child will be placed on a team unless we have notified you that they have been placed on a wait list. We hate wait lists. Please volunteer to coach.

7. When & where do the teams practice?

Teams practice once or twice a week for 60 to 90 minutes. Common practice days are M-W or T-Th, but we can creatively construct a practice schedule to suit any coach. The schedule is built around the coach's availability. Want to control your own fate? Coach a team. Normal start times are 3:30, 4:30 or 5:30 as our Rec practice fields lack lights. Park Dale Lane , Flora Vista , Olivenhain Pioneer, Ocean Knoll, Oak Crest, Encinitas Community Park, and Capri are our most used practice fields.

8. How are the teams formed?

Encinitas Rec soccer has always been built around a social component with teams based around schools, neighborhoods, and requests from coaches. As the players get older (middle school and above), we have fewer teams per age group and we have less flexibility when it comes to compiling rosters.

9. Can they play with their friends?

Coaches do get to request 3 to 5 players. Youth sports are one way that children meet others from other schools or grades. This may seem like a contradiction from answer 8 (above), but sometimes the number of players registered forces us to form teams using several schools. Luckily, we have enough players that we can honor the majority of 'friend requests’. In the end, we do our best, but requests are only one consideration when making rosters.

10. Can I specify on which team I want my child to play?

 The coaches are allowed to request three to five children each season. Parents may request a particular coach or team, but Encinitas Express cannot guarantee that such a request will be honored. We do our best to make it happen.  Requests made by late-registrants are almost impossible to fulfill.

11. Do they keep score and are there standings?

There are no formal standings thru U14 nor any league playoffs. Somehow, though, everyone knows the score and their team’s record. Our goal is to minimize lopsided games. Teams should not be winning (or losing) 7 – 0. There are many effective ways to keep games competitive and our coaches are encouraged to keep the game within a four-goal margin.

12. Do they get uniforms?

A jersey, shorts and socks are provided by the league and are the player’s to keep. Players need to provide shin guards and soccer cleats (shoes that have a toe cleat are not allowed), while they should bring a ball to practice (refer to the chart below for the correct ball size.)  Soccerloco and Dick’s Sporting Goods will advertise packages for younger players that will include everything they need to get started.  Soccer shoes and balls are also available at the Puma and Adidas Outlet stores in Carlsbad.

13. Where are the games played?

Our micro soccer games are played at Cardiff Sports Park on Lake Blvd.  The games in Divisions 4 - 6 are played throughout Encinitas, Cardiff, Rancho Santa Fe, and Solana Beach. Divisions 1 - 3 will play throughout North County. Elementary and middle schools provide most of our fields. The fields are all marked and have goals with nets.

14. What size ball do I need? How many players on each team?  How long are the games?


Division Grades Ball Size # of Players on Field/Max Roster Game Length Each Half
1 Ages 16-18 5 11v11 (22) 45 minutes
2 Ages 14-15 5 11v11 (22) 40 minutes
3 Grades 7-8 5 11v11 (18) 35 minutes
4 Grades 5-6 4 9v9 (13) 30 minutes
5 Grades 3-4 4 7v7 (12) 25 minutes
6 Grade 2 4 7v7 (12) 25 minutes
7 Pre-K – Gr 1 3 4v4 (14)* 20 minutes
*(they play 2 simultaneous games)

15. Are the coaches trained?

All of the Express Rec coaches will have been trained and certified by the California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA). The current training consists of on-line education and our own field clinics. There is an emphasis on age-appropriate drills and games. Also, all coaches undergo risk management and will also have undergone a concussion seminar.

16. Are there co-ed teams?

ESL offers no co-ed teams at this point, but it's possible that we could have one under special circumstances.

17. Is there post season play?

Encinitas Express will conduct two end-of-season, in-house rec tournaments. The 1st graders playing micro will get a chance to play on a larger field (7v7) as a preview of what’s to come. Divisions 4, 5, 6 will play for the ‘Encinitas City Championship’. Both tournaments are scheduled to be conducted on the first weekend of December using Encinitas Community Park and the new Calle Barcelona fields. 

18. Who are the referees?

With the exception of Division 7, where parents referee (it helps the parents learn the game, too), trained referees are provided. The referees are licensed by US Soccer Federation.  Minimum age for referees is 12 and all referees are at least two years older than the children playing.  All referees are tested and re-certified each year.  Referees are in short supply. Encinitas Express requires its coaches, parents and players to treat the referees with respect. Referee abuse is one of the main reasons why we suffer a shortage of game officials.

19. How can I become a referee?

Encinitas Express and CYSA train referees through a combination of an on-line course and field training. All referees are paid (in cash on the field during the season and by check for tournaments). We need as many referees as possible. If interested in becoming a referee go to Calsouth for a list of classes (we use only GRADE 8 referees, so skip the Grade 9 training).  San Diego County Soccer Referees Association assigns all of our referees.

20. Can I sponsor my child’s team? 

Yes! Contact Rec Admin Patti Lochner.  A $300 team sponsorship gets your company name on a team's jerseys (especially your child’s team), a thank you plaque and a place on the website.  Please complete and submit the Sponsor form below.  We can take a check or invoice you via credit card.


We hold two or three FREE Saturday clinics for recreational players prior to the start of August practices to help Kick Start the season. These clinics are held at Encinitas Community Park or Leo Mullen. The clinics are conducted by former and current Express coaches, trainers, and players. There is never a charge for these 75-minute clinics.