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Reffing Futsal (Part 1): Calling and counting fouls

Futsal has been growing rapidly in the USA as it's a wonderful player development tool. But refereeing it can be a different ballgame than outdoor soccer as it's much quicker, it's played with five players to a side and a smaller low-bounce ball -- plus the rules can be kind of quirky. Coaches have said to me on numerous occasions, ...

'Fun, friends and health' is what youth soccer should be about (Q&A Shannon Higgins-Cirovski)

After starting for the USA when it won the inaugural Women's World Cup on 1991, Shannon Higgins-Cirovski moved straight into college coaching. In May, after several years of coaching youth ball including at U.S. Soccer's Maryland Training Centers, Higgins-Cirovski, was named the girls Director of Coaching at Maryland youth club Bethesda SC.

After Concussion: Don't Just See A Doctor, Be Sure To See The Right Doctor

Much has been written about concussion in young athletes but today I want to devote a few words to an area not often discussed: Who should the young athlete see after a suspected concussion?

Ref Watch: How the last game of the season can present unique challenges

I'm a positive thinker. But all the positive-thinking in the world cannot erase the fact that refereeing is a challenging and sometimes dangerous avocation.

Brain expert explains the wisdom of USSF's heading policy for youngsters

Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the USA's leading experts on concussions in sports, responded to some of the common criticisms of the U.S. Soccer Federation's recommendations on heading in youth soccer in an interview with's Grant Wahl.

The border tug of war: Mexico courting U.S. talent is a 'good sign'

In 1998, the Mexican government changed its laws to allow dual citizenship, thus enabling U.S.-born Mexican-Americans to obtain Mexican citizenship. The measure, combined with the rise of the U.S. game, spurred aggressive scouting of U.S. youth with Mexican heritage by the Mexican federation (FMF).

Heading ban for 10-year-olds and younger makes sense, but important concussion questions remain

In recent years, new science has provided clearer information on the dangers of concussions and studies have revealed their frequency in youth soccer. It seemed that it would be only a matter of time before the game's governing bodies seriously addressed the issue.

Stop interrupting: Substitute sensibly

Part of this I found amusing as I reffed 8-year-old boys whose coach had them wear scrimmage bibs on the sideline like they do in the pros.

College Choice: Taking the right steps makes the process more enjoyable

Selecting the right college can be frustrating, and even cause anxiety for many families. Many kids will start thinking about their dream college as a freshman in high school, some will take a "wait and see" approach, while others will just simply wait till the last minute hoping to "get recruited" before they consider which college is right for them.

Throw-ins: What refs get wrong and what coaches can do right

What rule do refs in the youth game tend to get wrong most often?

U.S. Soccer still banking on U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton

The U.S. Soccer Federation launched the U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., in 1999. Later that year, the USA finished fourth at the U-17 World Cup in Zealand.

Put Costa Rica high on the list of nations we might learn from

We're always looking abroad for insight and ideas on how to improve our player development. The Dutch have long been particularly popular. MLS sent its youth academy coaches to learn from the French. U.S. Club Soccer has partnered with Spain.

'The ball is ever-present': Increasing the physical demands of a common tactical exercise

Every activity we set up contains a physical element - and for this reason contributes to our players' development of fitness and athleticism. When I worked as an assistant coach for Bob Gansler with the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) one of his many sayings that have stuck with me was: "the ball is ever-present." This applies to the ...

Don't blame the player pool for U-17 debacle

The U.S. U-17 boys national team was long a source of pride for American soccer. From 1985, when FIFA launched the biennial U-17 World Cup, to 2011, the USA was the only nation that qualified for all 14 U-17 World Cups. Quite an achievement.

Compensating youth clubs: 'The ball moves forward'

American youth clubs' quest to get paid for their former players who go pro -- standard throughout the world under FIFA regulations -- led to a meeting on Oct. 16 hosted by U.S. Soccer.