U.S. Soccer mandates major changes, altering birth-year registration and standardizing small-sided format

By Mike Woitalla

U.S. Soccer has mandated a significant alteration in how American soccer will be organized -- changing the birth-year registration from an August-July format to January-December.

The current cutoff date in American youth soccer is Aug. 1. The summer date has been common in U.S. youth sports, inspired by its correlation to the academic calendar. The international cutoff date, however, is Jan. 1.

“I think the birth registration changes make everything easier,” U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Tab Ramos said in a press release. “Over the years you go through coaching youth and people are confused about what age group they’re in, if they’re supposed to be U-15 vs. U-14, because they're born in such-and-such year, but they’re born in June.

“This new calendar makes things easier for everyone. If you’re born in a certain year you belong in that certain age group. It also gets us on the same calendar with the rest of the world, so now it becomes easier to identify for U.S. national teams and everything else when it comes to international soccer.”

The mandate will go into effect by August 2017.

U.S. Soccer also believes it will provide clearer information on player birthdates to combat relative age effect (RAE) -- the selection bias that favors players who are more physically mature than their peers because they were born earlier in the year.

U.S. Soccer says the birth-year registration initiative will not cause the dissolution of age-group based teams that already play together, “but will rather give players the opportunity to ‘play up’ with older age-groups.”

“We are easing into it and working towards it,” Ramos said. “Best practices will come next year as we work towards 2017 and I think we’re doing it the best way by easing into it. You don’t want to get into scenarios where larger teams are immediately getting cut into smaller teams.

“We at this point let them decide on their own how they manage the transition. Some clubs have already made the change starting this year, and are already ahead of the curve, which is great. In general, we have to give everyone the opportunity to get everyone comfortable with it, but it will come.”

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy has been using the Jan. 1 cutoff since its launch in 2007.

SMALL-SIDED STANDARDS. U.S. Soccer has also standardized small-sided game participation and field size based on player age groups for U-6 to U-12, to provide “a more age appropriate environment that will allow players with a better opportunity to develop heightened soccer intelligence and on-the-ball skills.”

“Now you’re playing 4v4, 7v7, and 9v9 at a young age and chances are the players are involved a lot more in those types of games,” said Ramos. “Over a period of 10 years, there are thousands of more times that you’ve been involved in certain plays and that will speed up the process of players getting more comfortable.

“The players, by being involved in the play constantly, will learn how to make important plays, and make plays individually that can break down teams."

The small-sided mandate will also go into effect by August 2017.

“When the game is large, there’s many different ways to hide," says Ramos. "In a smaller game, there isn’t.”

103 comments about "U.S. Soccer mandates major changes, altering birth-year registration and standardizing small-sided format".
  1. Raymond Weigand, August 24, 2015 at 4:38 p.m.

    I think the field size must have a typo ... 7v7 on a field 47x30 hahhaha! good luck.

  2. Santiago 1314 replied, August 24, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

    u8...(3)x15 minute "Halfs" ???...Humm, "Lucy!!!, jou got some esplainin to do.!!!" ...Doesn't sound correct...

  3. Raymond Weigand, August 24, 2015 at 4:39 p.m.

    75 yard wide fields for U13? That's funny.

  4. uffe gustafsson, August 24, 2015 at 4:55 p.m.

    Good move, never understood the purpose of the age cut off. We have girls that are freshman and sophomore playing on the same team, very confusing.
    Also U 12 playing 11 vs 11 never liked that to big of a field and kids standing around and barely touching the ball.
    Our club have just announced that U12 will switch to 9 vs 9.

  5. Cheryl Kelesoglu replied, August 24, 2015 at 8:39 p.m.

    I am all for most of what is going on. But what happens to the 25% of kids born in Oct. Nov. Dec. when the vast majority of their club teams move on to high school in the fall of their 8th grade year? Where do they play? I'm wondering if the model of birth year works better in other countries where maybe the school based sports world isn't a factor. Just concerned for my Nov. kid. Not to mention I'm pretty annoyed that my elementary school kid will play with middle schoolers. Then, my middle schooler will (maybe??) play with high schoolers. It's a big social difference.

  6. Ric Fonseca, August 24, 2015 at 5 p.m.

    Well it is about time!!! Although I've not examined the chart, it is only a logical giant step to take given that small-sided games have been in the norm (well, most of the time!) all over the world. In fact, I read some time ago that even Messi was not allowed to play a full-sided game until his very early teens, thus he developed his dribbling skills. Also, I vividly remember then US Soccer coaching instructor Dettmar Cramer expound - and literally pound - the lectern exhorting the coaching license candidates to use small sided games for the younger players and let them play on their own without too much adult interference, and this was way back in the early '70's! However, to make such a change shouldn't have to be pushed back to 2017, as it can be very well implemented next year with a very concerted effort and the word distributed through the internet, social media, etc. So, as I said above, IT IS ABOUT TIME & PLAY ON!!!

  7. J B, August 24, 2015 at 5:03 p.m.

    Kudos to U.S. Soccer for making this mandate. It's the right thing to do and has been long overdue in my opinion. Although I think U6 should be mandated to play 3v3, probably even U7.

  8. Kent James replied, August 24, 2015 at 5:28 p.m.

    I agree on all counts!

  9. shane siddoway, August 24, 2015 at 5:05 p.m.

    Moving to this type of age group may impact teams as they reach U18. Given it is a birth year setting that they are moving to, you could eventually have half the team who a seniors graduating their u18 year while the other half are Juniors. Teams will constantly be changing due to that.

  10. Angela Klehr replied, October 20, 2015 at 9:44 p.m.

    Thank YOU . Keep it aligned with the national standard for academic age cutoff , which has even dropped back to July 1st in many national
    School systems ... Why ... Because as a nation , we take a long summer "Holiday" if we want to keep kids motivated to play , let's not leave those kids with late year birthdays with no fall club their 8th grade year , and no club to play with in the spring because their "birth year mates" are off Playing Highschool or college ball .We need to stop looking at doing things like changing our age dates as a solution to promoting soccer and making us more like Europe , we need to accept that like football and basketball .. School sports are going to promote our sport .. Not changing the birthday cut off to be more like Europes

  11. Miguel Dedo, August 24, 2015 at 5:15 p.m.

    Re my experience as coach and referee the 13-years old teams would have a better game if they were playing with fewer players on a smaller field. On the bigger field the ratio of effort required to skill is too high for an enjoyable experience.

  12. David V, August 24, 2015 at 5:45 p.m.

    It is about time on both counts. The birth year does simply things, but the real motive is to get on par with the rest of the world for international competition. (But it won't remedy the American football mentality in US Youth Soccer, at every level, where rosters are picked by birthdate, etc. Now instead of preference to Fall Birthdays, it just shifts the bias to early-Calendar-Year birthdays). Now if we could only do something to foster the pick-up game of yesteryear (I'm convinced that too, without removing formal training, in-and-of-itself, would make us more competitive on the world stage.)

  13. Soccer Madness, August 24, 2015 at 5:50 p.m.

    Age group will be exactly same outcome if other changes are not made. Except we will all know exactly how far behind we are as far as skill and soccer smarts is concerned. At Dallas Cup for example, all international teams play with an age disadvantage. MX Santos U14 played with all 00' born players and still beat top USA U14 00/99 teams who many times have more 99's than 00's on their rosters. Now that those USA top teams will have to play 00's they will get pummeled playing those MX teams that will probably end up just playing up a year to get some competition. If you dont believe me look at the recent MX U15 tourney that just concluded. 2 MLS U15 teams went born 2000. Chicago fire lost 6 games and tied 1 of 2 German teams that also went. They scored 1 goal in entire tourney and recieved 30 goals. Fc Dallas did better but was only able to beat 1 Mexican team of the 4 which is still pretty good.

  14. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 25, 2015 at 5:17 p.m.

    Oh yeah we know - Mexican teams are far superior to us. We are pathetic etc., etc. Guess that's why they haven't beaten us in four years.

  15. Soccer Madness replied, August 26, 2015 at 1:06 p.m.

    Fire, they didnt have to in this Gold Cup. We couldnt get past Jamaica!! Have you been watching the U17 and U20's in qualifiers?? How does Mexico do? How about USA? Olympics? Celebrating nonsense will not get us where we need to be.

  16. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 28, 2015 at 5:16 p.m.

    True, Mexico got a ton of favorable calls to "win" the Gold Cup. We got further than they did at U-20 WC, they crashed out of the group stage. Considering their population and passion for the game I think they underachieve and I'm not sure we have much to learn from them.

  17. uffe gustafsson, August 24, 2015 at 6:21 p.m.

    Soccer madness.
    Ok so now you got to brag about your team.
    But I don't think this article is about bragging rites and not about the top teams you talking about but for all kids good or not so good to play with team mates in the same age group. And for for U12 to play on smaller field.
    I don't get it why you running your mouth like that.
    Be positive and say something good.

  18. Eric Shinn, August 24, 2015 at 6:31 p.m.

    I'm all for the change. My problem with it is that they are essentially taking a year of soccer away from every kid currently playing that was born between August and December. They are screwing THOUSANDS of kids out of a year of playing time...and a lot of them are high school aged and starting the recruiting process, which they'll be disadvantaged in because of this. Playing with a "school year" calendar may not be the right thing to do...but disrupting every team in the country for this project instead of phasing it in at the youngest ages is simply IDIOTIC.

  19. Scott B replied, August 25, 2015 at 11:16 p.m.


    Not sure where you are reading that kids will be screwed out of a year of soccer. Aug-Dec birthdays will advance in August to their next age group. A U15 this year (Aug-Dec Birthday) will move to U16 next year (or 2017 if they wait). The current U15's with a Jan-Jul birthday will remain as U15's the next year. If anything some kids will get an extra year but no one is getting screwed out of year of soccer. I would check out the chart for your own piece of mind.

  20. Angela Klehr replied, October 20, 2015 at 10:10 p.m.

    I agree , not sure where Scott lives ... But we have no fall soccer outside of our school teams , so my Nov bday kids have to play trapped the fall of their 8th grade year , the jab -aug bday are in Highschool , and likely will not have a club their spring year since most of the jan - August kids will be in college.

  21. Dominic Cartellone replied, March 2, 2016 at 2:41 p.m.

    Call VP of US soccer and ask him why they are stealing a year of soccer from your child. John Borozzi 312-808-1300

  22. Dominic Cartellone replied, March 2, 2016 at 2:44 p.m.

    Eric is correct, the kids with Aug to Dec birthdates will be screwed out of a year of play. My child is a u11 and was told in the fall she would have to play u13. Because she will be forced to join the older 2004's that are already playing u12 now. They cant play u12 again so lets just screw the younger kids and make them move up and skip a age.

  23. John Soccerdad, August 24, 2015 at 7:14 p.m.

    Totally agree with impact on U18 teams if half the team drops back an age and then look at impact of now bringing together players from 2 teams together as u17 team with who knows what balance in positions you may have. Leaves half the team with no team to play on. School age cutoff usually 8/31 age so fail to see how that solves that issue. Solution for many smaller clubs is to keep teams together and play up as teams want to stay together and not all clubs have teams at every age. Makes ease for Academy, ODP or even maybe larger clubs but leaves behind many smaller clubs. Kids will stop playing rather than trying to find another club who quite frankly, become profit motivated. Why not go with the new age year starting with incoming u6 groups???

  24. Jennifer Keeton, August 24, 2015 at 8:01 p.m.

    This needs to be implemented in younger age groups and move up with them. This is going to make a huge difference in kids who have been paying their classmates and who they will play against in HS.
    I gwt the impact for kids going pro someday but it could make too big a difference in the sport for gets just playing for fun, highschool or dream ends at college.

    My son teams will split after 6 and 4 years together. He can hang with u14 most hia team mates may not and will likely leave the sport before a growth that may equalize things.
    Leave things with U8 and above who have moved to traveling.

  25. David V, August 24, 2015 at 8:15 p.m.

    ERic, it is unfortunate, no doubt about it. And the following doesn't make it right, but that group from Aug-Dec has had an advantage all along. It will change, and someone will get burned, unfortunately, some group had to. Unfortunately :-(

  26. John Soccerdad replied, August 24, 2015 at 8:37 p.m.

    That advantage only comes into play for top level pay and we see how thats been our "advantage" with no benefit to 99.9% of players that can at least play into college. Seems advantage now moved to Jan-June players, either way, that will aways be there for some but see you agree doesn't make it right. There are ways to phase change in effectively.

  27. Eric Shinn replied, August 25, 2015 at 9:08 a.m.

    No, they absolutely have NOT had an "advantage". They're in the same grade as the players on their team and that they're playing against. If I were a college coach, that's how I'd be evaluating the players, based on their grade, not their age. Besides, this change just shifts that "advantage" to kids that were born in January and February, so it does nothing to "level the playing field" or any such nonsense. This is just a supremely stupid move to benefit the top fraction of a percent that have a shot at a national team.

  28. Dominic Cartellone replied, March 2, 2016 at 2:48 p.m.

    so you are ok with the kids with Aug to Dec dates of birth losing a year of soccer? Or having no one to play with when they are in 8th grade and then again when they are in 12th grade? This is not a dis-advantage this is a crime against these kids.

  29. David V, August 24, 2015 at 8:17 p.m.

    for just the funzee wunzee kids, they can all move up a year in Rec and stay together

  30. Angela Klehr replied, October 20, 2015 at 10:58 p.m.

    Well David , my fuzee wunzee kid that has been part of the ODP team for years .. Will not have a club team in the fall of his 8th grade year , how does playing up help that ??? That's sure funzee wunzee .. his senior year the Jan - August kids will be in college .. So will they let him play trapped again that year ? Hello .. Europe has no "school sports", it's a big factor in America, thus why many states have no high school club soccer during the school season , and why most states have used the general academic age cut off for the club cut off .. And for all those that find it SO confusing .. Come on , you figured out when to enroll your kid in kindergarten didn't you . Conforming to a European standard to the age cut off will not help us be more competitive .. Kids have always had the ability to play up in most U.S. Clubs .

  31. Saint 76, August 24, 2015 at 8:32 p.m.

    If they are sticking with 4x4 for those U8, they might want to rehash how a goal is counted..each player has to touch the ball for example ;) I have seen many 4x4 where 1 or 2 kids can dominate. The field is not that long and if they already possess good dribbling skills there is no need to pass. I get the idea and 'philosophy' of more touches but sometimes it just doesn't play out like that.

  32. aaron dutch, August 24, 2015 at 8:44 p.m.

    The best news I've heard in years in US Soccer, everybody who thinks Klinns is not making a difference, he did the same thing in Germany in the first 6 months.

  33. Dominic Cartellone replied, March 2, 2016 at 2:50 p.m.

    then go back to Germany

  34. J T, August 24, 2015 at 9:17 p.m.

    Have 3 kids that play travel soccer and all three are Sept or Oct. birth dates. So on paper this seems bad for them in regards to age grouping etc. However, I feel that this is a great thing for all three kids. The first obvious comment on birth year is all this is being done for tiny percentage of kids (and I mean tiny/tiny) who has potential to go up the ranks for National team. Outside of this the Aug-Oct kids (as I've read here and other places) would seem to lose out. I say otherwise. Watching all three of my kids play (and again oldest) you always tended to see those April-July kids that were the most fearless players and in some cases fastest. Not that they were the fastest, but they had to work way harder than the older kids to compete at high level and play on top teams. Meaning the Aug-Oct older kids were ultimately making the Later half better athletes, smarter players, and reaching full potential. The older kids (esp. when U8-U12) never really pushed themselves and/or was judged against kids 5-10 months younger. Now going forward it is the Aug-Dec. kids that get their turn to be pushed. Now they can play against girls/boys to push their talents even further and ultimately better player all around. Again outside of National team and tiny percentage, this will benefit them even more for High School and College because they would have been playing older kids (or up in a sense compared to soccer now) for years.

    Just my positive take on all this from a parent of what use to be older club soccer kids :)... just no longer ha.

  35. Eric Shinn replied, August 25, 2015 at 9:12 a.m.

    It will make no difference to anyone at about U14 or under. But for kids just starting the recruiting process, it's basically screwing them out of a year of recruiting opportunities. My daughter will play this spring as a U15, then next year basically be bumped up to U17, since she has a September birthday. Instead of playing with and against kids in her own grade, she'll be playing largely against kids a grade ahead. And instead of having 3 years left (16, 17, & 18) with a chance of a 4th as her class gets ready to graduate, she'll only have 2 with only a chance of a third. It's a STUPID move to implement this across all age groups. It should have been phased in.

  36. Soccer Madness, August 24, 2015 at 9:36 p.m.

    Uffe, say something good? Did I say something bad? Who am I bragging about? I have no interest in any of those teams whatsoever. Changing age rules amkes no difference development wise on its own. You have younger players playing with older right now. Same with good and not so good. All that changes is you take everything back 6 months. For our system here of development its actually better to keep age groups as is. That way a top 00 that is born between January and July gets to compete vs 99's born August through december. Under new rules that top 00 will have to play vs inferior 00's. In USA we would rather win than push that top 00' up an age group to 99. Will be even tough for that 00' to play up because he would also have to play vs older 99's. In USA we are not about that. We want to be ranked top team in the nation.

  37. Soccer Madness, August 24, 2015 at 9:44 p.m.

    JT, exactly. Nothing changes as far as producing better players with age change. It does change who develops more though now. This actually doesnt help the National team potential players because they will grow up playing younger weaker competition. National pool players are usually born early in the year. The ones that will benefit now will be the August- December kids as you said.

  38. Saint 76, August 24, 2015 at 10:40 p.m.

    The U.S. System is pay to play...basically club soccer. The European system is to nurture talent and is subsidized by local professional teams, FA bodies and regional councils. There is a major financial difference from what a parent has to outlay between the two. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, in terms of college scholarships seems like those in Aug to Dec are going to get short changed a yr....every year.

  39. aaron dutch, August 24, 2015 at 11:22 p.m.

    the reality is we have to make each change that europe has built over the last 50 years is 1 at a time. There are 20-30 changes that have to be made, this will take the next 10-20 years if we are realistic. This is one of the first 5 changes that will bring us closer to Europe, Latin America, Africa etc..

  40. Soccer Madness replied, August 25, 2015 at 8:47 a.m.

    aaron, why will this change bring us closer to Europe, exactly?

  41. Eric Shinn replied, August 25, 2015 at 9:13 a.m.

    Is this change suddenly going to develop multiple levels of professional teams, or are we going to stay on the collegiate track? Because this does nothing but HURT thousands of kids on the latter.

  42. Matt Dishongh, August 24, 2015 at 11:30 p.m.

    First Donovan and now this. Thanks, Klinsmann.

    Hate, hate, hate altering the birth-year registration. Mixing two grades on teams is not going to work.

    The relative age effect is only going to be worse for the kids in the lower grade.

    And U.S. Soccer's big solution for any problems this may cause is just to play up???

  43. Dominic Cartellone replied, March 2, 2016 at 2:54 p.m.

    Call US soccer vice president and voice your opinion John Borozzi 954-509-1004

  44. Kelly Quinn, August 24, 2015 at 11:57 p.m.

    Most of this sounds good except there will be some fall out. This does not consider the kids who are slow growers, and therefore go up against much bigger kids. The kids who grow slower may not be given the chance to catch up to their age related peers prior to being cut from the team.
    Perhaps instead of a mandate the higher-ups may aim for a recommendation, not a mandate?

  45. pete Mars replied, August 25, 2015 at 12:20 a.m.

    There always has to be a cut off...December would be the new July.

  46. Soccer Madness replied, August 25, 2015 at 8:49 a.m.

    Kelly, its the same difference. Right now under current age rules you have kids with a growth and age disadvantage. New rule will just give other people same disadvantage.

  47. pete Mars , August 24, 2015 at 11:58 p.m.

    This is a very confusing article. regarding the age mandate part. From the paragraph where it says "this change will not cause the dilusion of age related teams that already play together..just gives the opportunity for players to play up", haven't they always had that opportunity? Seems to me.., maybe the effects newly formed teams.. U5? Or recreational teams that r "new" each season.

  48. Soccer Madness replied, August 25, 2015 at 8:52 a.m.

    Pete, exactly. They always had the opportunity but their coaches main interest is team rankings within the age group. Our mindset has to change for better development. Changing month does nothing except to bring everyone to the reality of how truly behind we are within each age group when compared to Mexico. Big time.

  49. don Lamb, August 25, 2015 at 12:07 a.m.

    Children learn the game much better if there is a more gradual progression in numbers than what is shown in the USSF chart. Yet another example from a very disappointing "curriculum" that US Soccer has put together.

    Why are we not starting out children playing 2v2 and 3v3? 2v2 are the right numbers for the youngest players because the variables are cut down enough for them to process what is going on and what decisions are available to them. 3v3 should certainly be on the SSG map somewhere, right? The principles of the game change completely with a second teammate. By the time you get to 4v4, at least one player theoretically has his back to goal, and just about every principle of the game is involved. In other words, 4v4 is the game in a pretty complex form, and it would not make sense to start 5 and 6 year olds starting at this level. The variables faced in 2v2 are plenty challenging for these kids, and it puts them in an environment where they can actually learn something. Progress from there to 3v3 and start teaching kids about triangular positioning... Then get to 4v4 at 10 years old (in terms of curriculum, not necessarily in terms of competition numbers). From there, the game will come very fast...

  50. GA Soccer Forum, August 25, 2015 at 8:57 a.m.

    You are always going to have older and younger kids regardless of age cutoffs. The only reason the change makes any sense is to align with international standards. thats its. for the .001% who will play internationally this is good, for everyone else it will be disruptive then we will get over it as the new norm. For girls aug-july makes more sense, where college is the big prize at the end of the rainbow.
    This will wreak havoc on clubs with a quality team in rpl or national league and not much depth in the age groups above and below. Plays right into the hand of big clubs, small clubs will take another hit and ECNL clubs will gain another advantage having more depth in each age group. DA is already calendar year, so not sure why the switch was really necessary.

  51. Soccer Madness replied, August 25, 2015 at 9:11 a.m.

    GA, why will it be good for that 001% who will play internationally? That 1% are usually born jan-june. They were better off playing our current format because they get to play Aug-Dec older kids. More competitive now. Under DA rules the better players are usually the older ones. Same with teams. FC Dallas U16 won National title but was also oldest team with most 98's. Dont see how thats better for the better 98's on those teams because they are now playing down to the rest of 98's and some 99's.

  52. Matt Dishongh, August 25, 2015 at 9:22 a.m.

    The No. 1 reason kids want to play soccer is to play with friends. Now we are taking half their friends off the team. They can go play with those friends in baseball, basketball, football, gymnastics, dance, scouts, and everything else, but in soccer we have decided to add one more hurdle to participation. I continue to wonder if some people making decisions forget that there are actually kids on these teams.

  53. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 25, 2015 at 5:20 p.m.

    So now your kid is going to take up dance because of the birth year change? Bizarre.

  54. Dominic Cartellone replied, March 2, 2016 at 2:59 p.m.

    No Paul gardnier not dance but another sport yes maybe. Why play a sport that makes you lose a year of your playing time? Why play a sport that already admits they have nowhere for you to play when your in 8th grade and again in 12th grade.
    Call US soccer VP and complain John Borozzi 954-509-1004.

    I called US soccer and they basically told me they are trying to kill off high school soccer, that is the big motivation behind these changes.

  55. Steve Unger, August 25, 2015 at 10:28 a.m.

    7v7 on a slightly smaller field for U-10? 9v9 for U-12s (that actually works)but 8v8 works better. Not sure what the object is of crowding the pitch. I support introducing keepers and real soccer field markings at U-8 -- 4v4 gets boring above U-6.

  56. don Lamb replied, August 25, 2015 at 10:48 a.m.

    "4v4 gets boring above U6." You must not actually be teaching the game and cultivating development then.

  57. John Moon, August 25, 2015 at 10:35 a.m.

    Bad move by U.S. Soccer!

    Kids want to play with their classmates. This rule change will separates them. Kids will lose interest at an early age.

    For example, a child named Scott in 2nd grader (born in January), who is going to school together with his best friend Paul (born in December), who shares same teacher are best friends. US Soccer is telling them that they cannot play soccer together. Scott will play with 1st graders while Paul plays with 3rd graders. Does this make sense? However, kids can play with their classmates in Basketball, Football, Baseball, LAX, etc. Which sports do you think they want to play?

    Possible option perhaps is to change the school system to start January and end in December. Too hard? Perhaps it is easier to change for those in travel teams who travel internationally.

    Most kids who play soccer will never play internationally. They just want to play with their classmates and have fun.

    U.S. Soccer, you are pulling the "FUN" out of soccer for many kids.

  58. Dominic Cartellone replied, March 2, 2016 at 3:02 p.m.

    Call US soccer Vice President and voice your opinion. John Borozzi 954-509-1004

  59. Soccer Madness, August 25, 2015 at 10:49 a.m.

    kids can make new friends and therefore have more friends than they used to. Thats not as serious as you guys make it seem. For us to complain about "friends" as obstacle shows exactly what is wrong with youth soccer in this country. Its a pay to play, lets cater to the best clients, babysitting clubs, lets make it fun for them, give them what they want, give them what they pay for, lets B.S. with development terms and words, etc. nonsense!! What this rule does is bring us closer to reality but at the same time will bring us farther from better developing top players as we will now have them play vs weaker competition.

  60. Ben Loney, August 25, 2015 at 10:55 a.m.

    This is awful, let's change the whole system for the select 20-40 elite players that are selected for national team play. Because it's hard for us to know what year they are in.

    How about we move in line with the school calendar.

    A december child will not be able to play with his classmates as his January friend isn't quite good enough for the team and age group higher, but his friend make the teams because his birthday forces him to.

    This is all because this is the only country to use 05, U11, 06, U10 etc - get rid of the brith year reference. U11 means you will be no older than 11 by August 1st.. easy

    It doesn't matter when they are born, what matters is, "Are they good enough" changing the calendar doesn't make players better you clowns!!!!!

  61. David Israel replied, August 25, 2015 at 2:31 p.m.

    The whole play with your classmates thing is awful. My kids have been having to put up with these cliques of kids from the same school for years. Any move that makes these teams more about soccer is a good move. You just want play dates for your kids they can stick to video games and get much more quality socializing time that way.

  62. Fingers Crossed, August 25, 2015 at 1:42 p.m.

    This is a good move by US Soccer and long overdue. We should be aligned with the rest of the world on this. My son is a December birthday so under the current system, he is one of the oldest players but when the switch is made, he will be one of the youngest. It is what it is. But no matter when you run the eligibility year, you are always going to have older and younger kids. What's more important with these changes is the number of players and field sizes. This will give kids more time on the ball because you will have fewer players and the field will be sized appropriately for the age group. Waiting to play full field and 11 v 11 at U13 is the right thing to do.

  63. pete Mars , August 25, 2015 at 1:48 p.m.

    I'm confused when some r saying the team will now be divided into 2... They r now divided into 2. My daughters u10 team has half going into 5th and the other half going into 4th. This new way now most of the kids will be in the same grade.... With the exception of maybe November and December.

  64. Will G, August 25, 2015 at 2:43 p.m.

    Agree that this will have little to no affect on kids. It is merely a shift as 12 months difference is the same no matter what the cutoff is. I find it laughable that this is being viewed as the magic bullet. What this does not do is make coaches better and that is how we as a country will improve the talent we are developing. However, I do see an advantage for the Aug-Dec birthdays as they get older. Since they could be playing on teams with many players graduating, they will get additional opportunities to play in front of college coaches, should that be their goal. College coaches recruit by graduation date and could care less what age group a kid is in.

  65. Santiago 1314, August 25, 2015 at 3:53 p.m.

    Seems like they Could have left it as Was...The only teams that need to be playing by Birth year are "Pro Development Academies"...The rest should be playing for the Enjoyment...By Grade...Whats going to happen to the 8th Graders when the rest of their teams go to High School Soccer. .. they sit out for 3-4 months..when the 12th Graders Graduate what happens to the left over 11th Graders. ..???...Am I missing something???

  66. Michael Helfand replied, August 26, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.

    Santiago nailed it. This should only be for kids who are playing on academy teams that don't take a break for the high school season. Nobody has given an answer of what the fall birthday kids will do their 8th grade year when their teammates are in their high school season. I wrote a blog post about it,

  67. C Marshall, August 26, 2015 at 12:26 a.m.

    Do all youth leagues have to follow the mandates exactly? The KC area Heartland youth league, which is the largest youth league in the United States, has been doing similar team sizes as listed above for many years. Assuming other youth leagues are the same and US Soccer is just stating a standard to synch the league variations up a bit.

    Regarding cutoff dates, the biggest impact may be that kids from same grade won't all get to play together on same team...Unless they decide to do Rec teams by grades, but that would cause it's own set of problems when players or teams convert to competitive/premier. This change will cause some kids (5-10%) not to play soccer because they can't play on team with their best friends and don't want to be on team with a bunch of kids who are a grade older. Instead they will play football, basketball, and baseball so they can be with their friends. It is a bad idea and has very little upside except for possibly a handful of players.

  68. Evil Elvis, August 26, 2015 at 7:51 a.m.

    if a kid wants to play with his classmates, they need to play on the grade school team.
    I have an August child playing U12 and I think this is tremendously beneficial for him. He will now get to play against better competition and challenge him more. I also have a February U14 who is very small and hasn't hit puberty yet. This allows him to move down a notch and play with kids closer to his size. This shifts the RAE a bit. I am fortunate that it will help both my boys.

  69. Michael Helfand replied, August 26, 2015 at 10:31 a.m.

    Your August child should play a year up if not challenged.

  70. aaron dutch, August 26, 2015 at 11:12 a.m.

    why do we fight what everyone else has been doing for decades as the international best practice. Our football is not even as good as Belgium (league or national team) but we think we know better.

    Evil Elvis is correct, playing at a international standard which is what the change is helps in creating a much better model of development. If kids want to play on school teams then that is what should be built, not use Federation system for school teams (which is what 75% of rec/club teams really are) which means everyone is overpaying for that. If you go to everywhere else in the world those teams are all in schools/towns/ pickup teams. The club based academy programs are the real football. Which follow the standard age model. Also, this will help in getting our kids into better european academies over time.

  71. Santiago 1314 replied, August 28, 2015 at 12:37 p.m.

    Aaron, no one else in the World has as Structured a.. High School and College Programs...So why should the Greatest Country in the World Mandate to 95% of its Customers, Something set up for Non-American Societies. .. Leave the Age Groups the same, except for Developmental Academies... Freedom of Choice... isn't that what this Country is about?!?!?

  72. aaron dutch, August 26, 2015 at 11:26 a.m.

    more December failures:) there are 100's of great players born in Dec 1000's born from Aug-Dec.

    Christian Benteke
    Karim Benzema
    Gonzalo Higuaín
    Keylor Navas
    Mats Hummels
    Michael Essien

  73. Soccer Madness, August 26, 2015 at 1:10 p.m.

    Aaaron, yes but most National team players are born Jan-June worldwide at U17 and U20.

  74. Raymond Weigand, August 26, 2015 at 2:12 p.m.

    12 kids + 2 GKs on a field that is essentially 45 X 30 is a mistake. The field will be over crowded and the kids are close enough to shoot as soon as they cross into the opponents half. We play 7v7 on 80 x 40 and the games allow the kids to stretch their legs in transition. The proposed dimensions are the Futsal dimensions - except with more players.

  75. Aaron Apruzzese, August 26, 2015 at 11:54 p.m.

    I totally embrace the small sided development philosophy. It is how I learned and it is how I teach. Even with my older players, small side games are an instrumental tool.

    However, I whole heartedly disagree with the restructuring of the age groups. The current system is not complicated; I am certain you can remember your child goes to school every September and the soccer season age cut-off is one month prior.

    The current structure reduces the amount of players having to play outside their grade level. This is important for the middle school to high school and high school to college transitions. For MS to HS, half the team moving to high school will sit out the club fall season because of their school team commitment, leaving eighth graders with a undermanned team. The effects on U18 were previously discussed in an earlier post.

    Since we are not Europe with professional organizations footing the development bill, deference should continue toward the scholastic system which does offer a collegiate opportunity for many young athletes.

  76. T D, August 27, 2015 at 12:31 a.m.

    It's ridiculous to change the date range now when so many teams have been together for years and years. Sept through Dec kids are getting cheated out of a whole year of soccer and being forced to play up and out of their grade level. I strongly disagree with this change!

  77. Steve Unger, August 27, 2015 at 7:44 a.m.

    Don ... 4v4 above U-6 doesn't teach players much about the field of play, throw ins, goalkeeping, team play etc. That is why so many leagues move to 6v6 at U-8. That is only one more field player. Not at all sure about the wisdom of 7v7 and 9v9 (instead of 6v6 and 8v8). Our league has experimented with 9v9 and it works but 7v7 on a small field will only encourage more crowding and swarm ball at a rec level. Not sure what Tab is thinking ...

  78. aaron dutch, August 27, 2015 at 10:36 a.m.

    Until our players have the technical, tactical & field intelligence we will never have the teams at either national, league levels that can compete. These changes are not the end but the beginning. We will make many more adjustments over the next 5- 10 years. This is about building a football identity that is tactical & technical not just athletic & physical play which we have overinvested in. Whats 10x more important is the change in coaching development that occur because of the new development model. Our old un-international approach will be adjusted from a physical, weak technical/tactical/IQ approach to standardized approach. What i hope is we can get massive amounts of new coaching education & 1000's of international coaches (none english) who can teach.

  79. Santiago 1314, August 28, 2015 at 4:58 p.m.

    Please read the "Must Read" article on Tranfer Compensation to Youth Clubs...You want to see us Develop a Players.???.. Forget about Age Group Changes..Good old American CAPITALISM(Greed) Is what will give us our "Messi" within 6 years or less..5% of $240 MILLION.!!!!

  80. Mark Taper, August 31, 2015 at 6:29 p.m.

    My son's screwed. As an 8th grader born in October 2001, after this change he will not be able to play with his HS senior 'club' team (he'll be a junior when the 01's graduate). He'll only be able to play with his upcoming HS team that is completely horrible. Also, he finally made it to the club top team this year (and is shining). However, chances of him making the 01 top team is slim as that team is established and well liked by the current club coach. Goodbye college scouts. Thanks US Soccer... Any thoughts? Help!!

  81. Santiago 1314 replied, August 31, 2015 at 10:53 p.m.

    Tennis Anyone???... Sorry, that was Insensitive... But this will be a Lost Generation...Come on USSF...Get in the USA "REAL WORLD"... The big reason Fifa.. changed the Birth Year was because of Too Many Countries where players where UnAware of their Birth Month...We are the USA and we can find a Better way for all US Players...Only DAs need to be single Birth Year...

  82. Mark Taper, September 1, 2015 at 12:01 p.m.

    Is this a for sure done deal? Or are they still discussing, and hopefully taking in situations like my son's (described above)? It's sad to have a talented soccer player who loves the game, that will probably find another sport because of this mess...

  83. Ric Fonseca, September 2, 2015 at 10:42 p.m.

    All I can say to the above, is WOW!!! Folks it isn't all that complicated, besides if a kid - boy or girl - wants to play with his/her friends, have them play rec soccer or sign up with the national rec league, ayso! So come, come now folks, do we really, and I mean r-e-a-l-l-y want to be competitive with the rest of the world or do we want to develop so-so teams and get clobbered all the time? Also, someone please, pray tell me if football, basketball, baseball, or even track and field also have the current age bracketing or is it all based on skill alone?

  84. Angela Klehr replied, October 20, 2015 at 9:33 p.m.

    I can tell you that AAU basketball and i1 youth football are both age based .. Most follow the academic birthday year . Basketball began a spring cut off date to corrate with the end of the academic school year... Spring season slot v fall school prof like soccer . In 1980 many schools as well as leading youth sports club dived the age cut offs back to the Sep - Oct range .All of Europe may not take their long holidays Break in the summer but can you argue that most of the U.S. Don't? With the academic challenges to you get Childen many school systems are pushing to move the birthdate back to July 1. The August 1 soccer date Thais have kept most grade level kids playing together . Yes.. the are kids on both sides of the date spectrum that either are young or old for their grade .. The ability to play up has always been allowed , I think with many school
    Systems realizing the demand in younger student fighting to move the date cutoff for student back to June, we are looking at huge number of youth that will be having to play trapped of without a team in the fall season after 7th grade , or be without a team their senior aping season . I have children with Sep Aug and Novemenr bday . I guess my fall Bdays better find a good alternative fall sport when they hit 8th and 12 grade.

  85. Brian Gara, September 6, 2015 at 7:54 a.m.

    I'm still confused by the calendar year change. My daughter was born Aug. 2, 2002, and is currently playing for a U13 team as a 7th grader. If her club implements this change next year, will she have to try out for U14 or U15 (she will be trying out for the fall/spring 2016/2017 season)? If U15, then she will lose out on playing a fall club season, as most kids that age are playing high school and the clubs typically do not have a fall season once the kids are HS age. I've seen conflicting comments on this forum and would very much like to get definitive answer so I can plan accordingly, and not be surprised/disappointed next spring when tryouts occur.

  86. Greg Gibbs replied, September 17, 2015 at 4:08 p.m.

    Brian Gara - Here's a link to the new age group matrix:

    Since your daughter was born in 2002, she should play U14 during the 2016-17 if your club adopts the new rule early. (It will be mandated by US Soccer in 2017-18.)

    What I don't understand is why your daughter is only in the 7th grade. My daughter was born Aug 23, 2004. Since her birthday is before Sep 1, she's a 6th grader. However, since her birthday is after Aug 1, she's playing U11 soccer with mostly 5th graders. Under the new age group, my daughter will move up to U12 next year while most of her teammates will play U11 again as 6th graders born in 2004-05.

  87. Brian Gara replied, October 21, 2015 at 3:09 p.m.

    Thanks for the info, Gregg Gibbs. My daughter was adopted at age 6, so she got a later start in school. My issue is that, while she will be moving to U14, most 2002 kids are currently in 8th grade and will be moving to High School teams for the fall. My daughter will be in 8th grade and hoping to find a fall U14 club team that she can make. One possibility is that she will simply have to do something else in the fall and only play club soccer in the spring. This would be unfortunate for her skill development in my opinion.

  88. Jason Stockmann replied, November 10, 2015 at 4:53 p.m.

    Greg, I think you might be wrong...according to this: and this: a player born on August 2, 2002 (who now plays U13 since at the start of this previous "soccer year" they would have been 12) will be playing for U15 next year because according to the above info, 2017 - U15 = 2002. I'll admit, I thought it was the other way at first as well...but those above links seem to say it this way.

  89. Brian Gara replied, December 2, 2015 at 12:03 p.m.

    Jason is correct. They have now changed the chart and a kid born in Aug, 2002 will need to move to U15. So in addition to missing out on a whole year of development (the missing U14 year), my daughter will now also have to try and make one of the very few "elite" U15 teams that have a fall schedule, since she does not want to play against much weaker middle school competition.

  90. Kimberly Woods, September 6, 2015 at 5:27 p.m.

    The change to birth year is so unnecessary. It is up-ending established teams, does nothing to reconcile RAE as USSF will like you to believe and gives Jan-July birth dates the advantages at BOTH club and ODP... Petition against this mandate at

  91. Tony Swanchara, September 7, 2015 at 9:53 p.m.

    The change is completely unnecessary and disruptive especially to established teams and even more for small clubs at the U14 and above level.

    And why? For the 0.001% of kids who play an international match?

    Socially, the current situation works very well. The kids are all basically in the same grade and have the same social situation.

    This is a major step backward for youth soccer. Kids want to play with friends in the grade. They are going to pick football, basketball, baseball...

    Birth year grouping is fine for the high end (national / olympic development) but a one size fits all is going to wreak havoc.

    This rule basically ends my (Dec birthday) son's participation in youth soccer after this season... He has been with the same team for 5 years. Starting over and trying to find a new team is really not an option.

    At least high school play next year will still an option...

  92. Brandon Hyder, September 7, 2015 at 10:44 p.m.

    To all the jack A$$ that think this new age rule change is going to make things more competitive against international teams are crazy. Soccer will always be 3rd or even 4th choice to football, baseball and probably now to LAX. Europe players will always be better cause their top athletes play soccer. Our top athletes play football and baseball cause that's where the money is at. So we are screwing the kids that want to play with friends and telling them to play REC ball? So my daughter loses a year of soccer and plays with girls much bigger then her cause she was born in September? Klingsman is just gonna pick guys on the national team with dual citizenship anyways. So how are we letting him dictate what happens in our country. Very sad to see our country bow down to anyone

  93. Greg Morris, September 18, 2015 at 6:36 p.m.

    The way the birth year change is being handled is just wrong. Look at the charts - Aug-Dec 98's can play Fall 2016 as U18 but in the Spring 2017 must go to U20. How many teams are going to form in the fall for U18 and take 98's when they know they will lose them in the spring? This means kids starting their senior year in HS will be playing U20. How many college coaches at U20 games?

  94. Leslie Levine, October 13, 2015 at 2:44 p.m.

    Many if you are worried about multi grade levels playing together. Well on Long Island, the grades levels are a calendar year so my two kids in travel soccer have been playing with other grades for years. My daughter is in 7th and plays with kids in 6th and my son is in 3rd and okay with kids in 4th. This new age rule will actually have the opposite effect and put kids back in there grade level. Btw, the August -November kids usually have had an advantage developmentally and now that will change to the Jan-March kids. It's going to happen regardless

  95. Matt Medeiros, October 17, 2015 at 1:10 p.m.

    I like the idea that the Aug/Dec kids will be challenged by playing with the older kids, however I am concerned that not only will these kids be the youngest of the Jan/Dec group but they will also be a school year behind them as well. The school system finally caught up to sports utilizing a August/June schedule in recent years and now US soccer is revising their schedule to meet Europe schedules. Not sure this makes since for development of Kids...

  96. Angela Klehr, October 20, 2015 at 9:12 p.m.

    Our nation is still a nation that rallies around its high school teams. The August 1 cut off lines up somewhere close to most of the academic school years. So many of the proponents of this change state the excitement over the ease in knowing what their child's age group , come on .. Do you have a hard time remembering what grade your child is . I don't think there are any school
    Systems that continue to follow the birth year calendar , and despite the push to pull
    Kids away from playing with school teams , the fact remains that most kids primary teams during their Highschool years will be their school teams . I think this is a terrible change motivated by moronic thinking that for kids to split a divide from their academic age groups will somehow promote US youth soccer .

  97. Paul Curtis, October 26, 2015 at 2:50 p.m.

    It makes no sense to change the age groupings to calendar year yet leave the seasons spanning years. In fact, by so doing we have no worsened the age gap for the younger players. Using the current schedule a young August birthday player will be roughly one year below age limit at the start of Fall to 3 months below at the end of the next year's Spring. Using the new schedule a December birthday will be roughly three months over a year below the age limit to six months below the age limit at the end of Spring. Why not change seasons to run concurrent with the calendar years as well?

  98. Big Dad, October 28, 2015 at 12:10 a.m.

    Requiring birth year for rec teams is incredibly stupid. Birth year for ECNL and DA teams is fine.

    Economically the US soccer changes will be financially devastating on some club. Clubs need 30%+ more field space for game, many more refs will be needed and we already have a shortage of good officiating.

    Kids are going to quit soccer and this will set the game back years.

    I predict smaller clubs that do not have DA and/or ECNL will form their associations.

    Big mess coming

  99. Joe Soccer, November 3, 2015 at 11:44 a.m.

    I think the big wigs have too much time on their hands. First youth soccer should be school calendar. It only makes sense for college recruiting and high school play. Why would you mandate changes in teams where some players have been together for years. Stupid as hell. I think once again we are not thinking of kids, only stupid people whom cant figure out dates. I more educated person would keep older teams the same and make changes at the U-8 age from this point on. Instead of worrying about changes to age, why don't you try to figure a way to better train your Refs. There are way too many refs that have no clue about the game. They dictate and ruin many games. we are not talking about all refs, but there are way to many bad ones. ones that I rank with the clowns. I hear how bad refs have it out there, the way I figure, if you can't do your job, then expect to get an earful. Also If you make a bad call and some one yells at you, unless it is foul language or threatening,shut the hell up and keep your head in the game. Once again this is not directed at all refs, but I would say the majority of them. How about we put class back into the game.

  100. J Blake, November 11, 2015 at 6:13 a.m.

    So what happens to the girls that have been playing on a team for years? with this change they loose half of their team. My daughter plays on a very competitive team this change would cause the team to dissipate how is that fair to the girls that have been playing together for over six years? They have established a great team connection as well as a great team. They loose out!! I am completely against this idea. How about this be a rule going forward, the teams that are already formed can stay together!!

  101. John Bada, January 26, 2016 at 4:25 p.m.

    I think there's a disconnect on how people are defining "competitive" and "rec" soccer here. If by "competitive" you mean, professional or national team soccer, fine. I do not think that is how the majority view the term "competitive" soccer. I think the majority would say "aspiring to the college level" is competitive. Rec soccer would be no practices, just games. So for youth soccer players, playing at that level of competitive soccer (aspiring to college play), they will ultimately be at a disadvantage in 8th grade and in 12th grade if they were born in Aug-Dec (amongst some other disadvantages). For those that argued that Aug-Dec are just losing their advantage to Jan-Apr; ODP already uses birth year. Aug-Dec now lost their Club advantage to the Jan-Apr ODP players who now are blessed with both being birth year. By the way, wouldn't US Soccer benefit more from Club soccer's emphasis on Aug-Dec players and ODP's Jan-Apr bias? Also, for those 8th graders who still want to train in the fall, who pays for the training? Do you charge the HS players also? Pay to Play just got more expensive. And good luck to the small town clubs that do not have the numbers to accommodate the birth year change. This is a boon for the Rush's and PDA's out there.
    Over 4 million children play youth soccer in the US. This change is for about 1% of those kids. There are ways already in place to ID the 1%. This is only going to lower that 4 million's participation number and those are, hopefully, the lifelong fans who are going to support the 1%. I'm sorry but the birth year mandate is a crock and the individuals at US Youth Soccer, US Club Soccer, EDP, ECNL, NPL, US Soccer, Soccer America and I'm sorry, but you as well Mr. Woitalla are cowards for not addressing the sincere questions that parents and coaches have been posing regarding the serious drawbacks of implementing the birth year initiative. This will be rammed through regardless. And by referring us to the matrix or the US Soccer video explaining the mandate is not addressing the issues we have. That's just your lack of a legitimate argument to implement these changes immediately showing.

  102. Carlton Cayward, January 30, 2016 at 12:48 p.m.

    Amen John Bada... Thank you.... My daughter has lost fall of 8th grade... Niwhere to play.. The 9th graders cant play due to high school ... Shes too old to play with her grade.. December birthday... This will somhow benefit the 1%...I could care less... My daughter And others kine her have been disregarded.. This should have been phased in at u9 if it had to be phased in... It accomplishes nothing!

  103. Nancy Bennett, May 20, 2017 at 4:06 p.m.

    My son, born last day of October 2002, got completely screwed out of fall soccer last year. He came to soccer late and has been working incredibly hard to catch up -- going to soccer summer camp etc. In the fall of 2016 he was in 8th grade while almost all of his teammates (thanks to the change) were in 9th grade. His club announced that they would not start fall soccer until November in order not to conflict with high school soccer. Except that, as it turned out, they didn't start at all. There was zero club soccer in the fall. And, of course, my son couldn't play on the freshman high school team either. So after working incredibly hard all summer, he sat out and played exactly zero soccer outdoors (a little indoor soccer over the winter) until this spring. Thank you US Soccer for helping to destroy his ability to play this sport. And, of course, there will be no club soccer when he is in 12th grade either. Sports is supposed to be about building up a love of the game and a healthy mind and body. But apparently US Soccer thinks it's only about developing the 1 in a million kids who can play on the international level.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications