Commentary

Birth-year registration: The transition is upon us

By Mike Woitalla

Will my child be changing teams? Will she be playing “up” if she stays with her current team? Will he move to what had been the "younger" team? Will my 12th grader even have a club team during her senior year of high school?

When U.S. Soccer (USSF) last August announced a change in youth soccer to birth-year registration -- a switch from an Aug. 1 cutoff to Jan. 1 -- it prompted many questions and a significant amount of confusion, some of which stemmed from conflicting age charts making the rounds. USSoccer.com's August 2015 story on birth-year registration and small-sided initiatives has more than 700 comments, mostly about registration. Most are critical comments or questions about the switch.

I recently overheard a conversation between a player's mother and his coach. She asked him why the club thought this was a good idea, which she seemed uncomfortable with -- I presume because it meant the boy might be on a different team next season. He said the decision was made by the U.S. Soccer Federation. And then he had to explain what the USSF is. Then he conveyed the USSF's reasoning -- that Jan. 1 is the cutoff date used internationally, thus the date that applies to U.S. youth national teams. That was pretty much all he could come up with, because it's difficult to make the case that a date change will improve player development or combat "relative age effect." (The USSF says the Jan. 1 cutoff will provide "clearer information on player birth dates to combat 'relative age effect.'")

Many of the youth coaches I've heard from know the key reason for the change is, as one of them put it, "To make it easier for national team coaches to scout players." For the detractors of the switch, it's seen as a move that inconveniences many to serve a few.

It seems to me that Jan. 1 is a logical cutoff date for an age group. There's a simplicity to it that I like and I agree with what U.S. Youth Technical Director Tab Ramos said: "The current Aug. 1 cutoff meant that two players born in the same year could be in different age groups. To make it more confusing, different school systems have different cutoff months for going into the new grades. ... This new calendar year system makes soccer easier. If you’re born in a certain year, you belong in that certain age group. Simple."

Not so simple is the transition, which has parents speculating about what it means for their children. There are those who don't like the idea of teams splitting up, something addressed in the original USSF release: "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."

Some don't like that approach, citing the fact that it would put their teams at a disadvantage playing against other clubs that split teams up. For example, a team that continues fielding 2003s and 2002s competing against a team of only 2002s.

Clubs that have already been moving players up and down throughout the year or have used a pool system don't anticipate as much blowback from parents and players, because they're accustomed to moving between teams. But those tend to be the bigger, highly competitive clubs -- a minority within the American youth soccer landscape. And smaller clubs may see more challenges when it comes to re-arranging or merging teams.

For however inconvenient the transition will be, I'd predict that a few years down the road people will be as comfortable with Jan. 1 as they were with Aug. 1. For now, the transition has club directors and league administrators working overtime.

U.S. Youth Soccer and U.S. Club Soccer sent out statements last week. Both are adopting the USSF’s birth-year registration mandates for the 2016-17 season, a year ahead of the August 2017 implementation deadline mandated by the USSF, whose Development Academy will begin using the age charts below for the 2017-18 season.

“U.S. Youth Soccer, along with other members of the U.S. Soccer Federation, have been collaborating with each other to help ensure that these changes forced by the U.S. Soccer mandates are implemented as efficiently and smoothly as possible,” said U.S. Youth Soccer Director of Coaching Sam Snow. “For teenage players participating in high-level U.S. Youth Soccer programs like the National Championship Series, National League, Regional Leagues and the Presidents Cup, there will be a ripping of the Band-Aid in 2016-2017 per these U.S. Soccer Federation mandates. For players in Zone 1 (ages 12 and under), this impact will likely not be felt until the entire country is to adopt the mandate in August of 2017, but it is important to check with your U.S. Youth Soccer State Association, club or local league on their adoption plan.”

Said U.S. Club Soccer Executive Vice President Christian Lavers: “The U.S. Soccer Federation’s birth-year registration mandate is a significant change for our leagues, clubs and teams. As a sanctioning body, we are trying to help all of our members plan for this change as efficiently as possible, while considering all of the different issues and potential disruptions involved.”

One area that raised concerns was whether the birth-year mandate would leave players at the oldest age groups without a team. For example, high school seniors no longer being age-eligible for U-18s during the spring season, or college freshmen not being able to join their youth teams in summer competition in U.S. Youth Soccer’s U-19 championships.

To address that issue, the new top age group for youth leagues is U-19 while U.S. Youth Soccer has re-labeled its oldest age group U-19/20.

From U.S. Soccer:

From U.S. Soccer:

Resources: This USSoccer.com page includes: Age charts and a downloadable Frequently Asked Questions document on "Small Sided Standards & Birth Year Registration" -- and this advice: "It’s important to communicate with your local soccer leaders to avoid misinformation about these initiatives and their objectives. This includes speaking with your coach, club or league administrators, State Association or other U.S. Soccer youth member. If you have additional questions that are not covered in this FAQ document, please feel free to email U.S. Soccer at coaches@ussoccer.org."

US Youth Soccer statement on U.S. Soccer’s birth-year registration mandate
US Club Soccer update on U.S. Soccer’s birth-year registration mandate


* * * *


The U.S. Soccer Development Academy (boys) has used birth-year registration since its launch in 2007 but isn’t moving to the new age chart in until 2017. Beginning in 2017-18, the DA’s age groups will be re-labeled U-19, U-17 and U-15 -- instead of the current U-18, U-16 and U-14. Last October, the DA announced expansion to U-12 and a split of the U-14 age group to U-14 and U-13. How exactly those younger age groups will realign in 2017-18 has yet to be determined.

88 comments about "Birth-year registration: The transition is upon us".
  1. Eric Shinn, February 2, 2016 at 9:22 a.m.

    I'm still waiting on someone to give me a good reason why this is being done, as I have yet to see one. This idiotic decision is decimating thousands of teams across the country, and will cause kids in the fall or spring of their 8th grade year AND in their senior year to not have teams to play on. And for WHAT?!? Who exactly is being helped by this? It is literally the stupidest decision I've ever seen an organization of this size make.

  2. don Lamb replied, February 2, 2016 at 1:11 p.m.

    Stop being so dramatic. It's okay. I hope you are not whining and carrying on like this in front of your child because you will be creating an entitled, weak human being if so. Sometimes things change in life. Make the most of it. This change is about running a better organized and more professional organization that makes alignment with other programs easier.

  3. David Israel replied, February 2, 2016 at 6:54 p.m.

    At the rec level kids are helped by this because you don't have kids from one grade of one school taking over a team and ostracizing kids who had an interest in soccer (over playdates).

    At competitive levels kids can play against teams from other countries.

  4. don Lamb replied, February 2, 2016 at 11:34 p.m.

    AA - Basically, these changes simplify the age cutoff dates and align all soccer leagues in the US with the standard age classifications that are used all around the world. A rec or low level travel parent might say that playing at that level is not their goal, but the only way to really implement it is from the top down -- all the way down and across the board. It will make things like scouting much easier because the scout will not have have to wonder about watching a team and wondering which group they would actually be playing with at that higher level. This example is not isolated to scouting. All areas of the organization of US soccer are made simpler because of this alignment/simplification. The simplification comes because the age cutoff is now based on a more "natural" cutoff (birth year) instead of a "social" cutoff (school grade). This new way is more straight forward.

  5. John Schultz replied, February 3, 2016 at 10:15 a.m.

    Don, I agree that it is simpler but its not really a big difference. What bothers me is that we are led to believe this change will make our scouting better. It wont. Not one bit. Actually a case can be made for school year play regarding scouting. Lets take a 00/01 Top level team. A scout gets a better idea of how good an 01 is for National team inclusion if he stands out vs top (younger) 00's. With calender year a top 01 playing vs 01 talent wont really tell you much as a scout. Bigger hit or miss than before. Better to go with 01's playing 00' calender year now which puts alot more players at a physical disadvantage when wanted to compete up. And still scouts will have to do their homework by finding out how many 01's are playing 00's. Same difference.

  6. don Lamb replied, February 3, 2016 at 11:33 p.m.

    Exactly -- "same difference." So, why are all of these parents making such a big deal. Of course we know why... their little Johnny is going to have to face change, so it's utterly horrible! The fact is that it aligns us with the rest of the world. If we are going to be producing top talent, don't you think that we should align ourselves with the top tier in terms of how our players are compared and judged?

  7. don Lamb replied, February 4, 2016 at 11:46 a.m.

    AA - True, but that is a completely different topic.

  8. don Lamb replied, February 4, 2016 at 3:35 p.m.

    Sure, it's a reason. We should do everything we can. If you say it's not worth it because clubs are not doing the right things, well that is really just your opinion. Yes, moving the age groups helps because it makes things more straight forward and aligned with the rest of the world. Just because it doesn't immediately fix all of our problems doesn't mean that it should't be done.

  9. don Lamb replied, February 5, 2016 at 12:30 a.m.

    I don't think you really grasp this topic. There are many clubs in the DA system who aspire to produce professional players. Not many of them do a good job of it, but you are wrong if you think their ambition stops at producing college players. And, yes, college coaches are the one group of scouts who will be thrown off by this a little bit... Not really though because many clubs are already operating on the birth year cutoffs and many teams have ages that might vary a little bit (i.e. kids playing up).

  10. don Lamb replied, February 5, 2016 at 9:18 a.m.

    If you think that training compensation is the only incentive for clubs, you are not seeing the whole picture. When a club produces a Rubio Rubin or a Chistian Pulisic, they can market that heavily. These clubs are generally not hurting for money, and they see two ways to raise their stock among consumers: One way is to win. The other way is to have the best players in their system. They are not mutually exclusive, but clubs are indeed focused on both of these goals. You and I might not agree with how they do it, but they are very interested in producing top players that play professionally because of what it will do fro their brand. I could probably name 20-30 clubs outside of MLS academies who have the setup to legitimately produce big time players. Not to mention, MLS academies have feeder clubs, so those clubs are hoping that the kids that THEY feed are the ones who make it to the first team. Why? Because there is a humongous marketing boost that comes with that.... I agree that training compensation is necessary, but that is more so to create a culture of independent academies rather than for the sake of existing big clubs, none of which are hurting for money. They are basically printing money and have several revenue streams bigger than what trading compensation would amount to. They are looking for prestige, and that comes by placing players into the highest levels as professionals.

  11. don Lamb replied, February 5, 2016 at 11:03 a.m.

    Also, if you don't think that MLS is putting a priority on signing homegrown players. then you are not paying attention. The reason they have not been doing this at the rate that you would like is because the players are not there yet. It takes 10-12 years to produce a pro player from start to finish. We have just started that process. Even still, teams like Dallas and NYRB are showing that they are ahead of the rest. Even a team like LA, who you love to hate because they sign guys in their 30s, has given great opportunities to youth. There has to be a multi-pronged approach to growing this still young league. Saying that we are only going to invest in youth and not sign any veteran, known players would not necessarily be good for the league because there are not many good young players available to MLS. They will have to produce it and continue to work on the global reputation. Both of these objectives are long term, and there is significant evidence that real progress is being made. You made a comment the other day about "hoping" it will be different in five years. Is your foresight really that poor? Do you recall how different MLS was five years ago? The youth development programs had barely even begun. Now they are fairly developed and even starting to produce some players. Your comments make it sound like you don't really pay much attention to what is happening with how the league is developing. It's seems like you just want to bang your drum, pointing out something that is obvious (we have not been great producers of talent) without really looking at the progress that has been going on with this. There is still a long way to go, but to act like we are not making progress and that things are not moving in the right direction is ignorant. Comparing us to other countries, which are fully immersed in soccer culturally, is a bit naive too. We began trying to develop professional players recently while they have been at it for decades. If, in another five years, we are not seeing significant production from young US-developed professional players, then I will ask serious questions about what went wrong. In the meantime, tweaks like the birth year change and training compensation make sense to implement, but neither is going to change anything instantly. If you planted a tree five years ago, would you pull it out of the ground or declare it sick because it is not fully mature yet? That is what you are doing with youth development.

  12. Brian Ashley replied, February 9, 2016 at 6:36 p.m.

    There really is no reason. They claim it is to align with other countries. But only a tiny fraction of one percent of US Youth players will ever need to align with other countries. And so far, we've managed that quite well.

    I'm only slightly worried about players who will drop because they can't play with their friends. After a few years of club play I think the average player can handle that, although there may be a few who drop.

    I'm far more worried about the U9s who will decide to play some other sport because they can't play soccer with their friends.

    After all, we as coaches and parents are here to introduce the love of the game to each new crop of youth players. But when you are introducing a 9 year old to club soccer they invariably place a great deal of emphasis on playing with their friends. 9 year olds do what their friends do. And their friends, for better or worse, are those who share their grade at school. That's who THEY regard as their age mates.

    So this decision, apart from being unnecessary at the elite level because we've always managed to work things out for the tiny fraction of a percent of players who will play internationally as youth players, is a travesty for trying to teach young children about the game and instill a love for the game in them.

    This is a solution in search of a problem that will only have negative effects at best.

  13. Brian Ashley replied, February 9, 2016 at 6:44 p.m.

    DON - It's clear that you have swallowed the kool-aid. Most DA players will never play internationally as youth. And the vast majority of US Youth soccer players will never play DA. And finally, we've never had a problem with playing internationally in the past.

    So, even if this made sense to do for those infinitessimally few who might get a chance to play internationally as youth players, there is no reason to simply have that standard for them alone.

    This isn't a case of people saying that "change is bad". This is a case of people saying that there's no need to make this change and that it is a big hassle that will likely have some negative effects with no positive effects.

    Sorry you can't see that, but we do have a valid argument far beyond your claim that poor "little Johnny will have to face change". If you have an actual reason then say it, but your insulting comments about valid concerns only make everyone's point that US Soccer doesn't listen to, or serve the vast majority of soccer players.

  14. don Lamb replied, February 11, 2016 at 11:04 p.m.

    AA - You are way out of your element here. It is not that you are wrong, it's just that you don't have a perspective that is based in reality. I cannot fault you for being wrong since you obviously don't live within this profession of youth development, but your perspective is just flawed. The things that you want to happen are happening. They take time, but you show no ability to recognize that. Your perception seems to be from on onlooker who has done as good of a job educating themselves and forming an opinion as possible, but you just don't grasp the entire picture. Either that or you have a bias because there is an agenda you are pushing about how things are not right. And Brian - I would not say that I have swallowed any of US Soccer's cool-aid by any means (my program is completely independent of any leagues or governing associations). I WOULD say that I have committed my life to producing strong youth players. I understand the struggle to do that in our culture. It is getting better and better by the second, but we have a long way to go. Bozos freaking out over such minor things as an age group change are only holding the growth of this culture back. How about showing traits that we want to see in our players: a little mental toughness and adaptability to change.

  15. don Lamb replied, February 13, 2016 at 12:05 a.m.

    No, I think you and these weak-minded parents who insist on making such a big stink over this issue should be tougher. Children take after their parents, and whiners do not create players with a good mentality. There are plenty of things in life to get worked up about...

  16. don Lamb replied, February 13, 2016 at 12:09 a.m.

    The things that you are whining about are happening very clearly in front of you. I just do not understand how you complain about so many things that actually have a very simple and logical explanation. You appear to be way out of your depth here talking about something you really don't have much knowledge of. If you want to help, think of something productive instead of bitching about everything.

  17. don Lamb replied, February 13, 2016 at 12:26 a.m.

    I guess I didn't give much detail about "What is happening all around you..." Basically the things that are happening all around you has been the development of a system that is completely different from what had been in place for the previous 25 clubs -- the old school way was the travel club model. The new model is a method of professional training with more of a focus on individual players over the team. MLS has led the way with this change in youth development. In just a few short years, MLS academies have taken root in many communities and have begun producing players at a high level. As they have taken root, these programs have reached toward younger and younger kids. Their outreach has grown with the goal of being low cost or even free in many cases. Other professional clubs in lesser markets (USL and NASL) are following suit with a model that provides an avenue for young players to develop in a professional environment as well. Meanwhile, we all know that the culture of travel clubs has completely changed to create a much more professional in terms of coaching and overall club standards. There are some issues here, but it is 10x better and more scrutable than the previous club system. ODP has become marginal. Players are scouted more and more through their teams instead of through tryouts. Functional training and small group training with good coaches have become an alternative to the summer camp on a university campus. Pickup games are becoming more common. There is more of an emphasis on small sided games. There is an army of young coaches who have a chip on their shoulder because of how lacking the system that they came through was and how the sport has endured such ridiculous stereotypes. And there is a massive number of children who are growing up in a culture that actually somewhat pays attention to soccer. These kids can find soccer everywhere they look. Youth development is changing -- and changing fast.

  18. don Lamb replied, February 13, 2016 at 2:41 p.m.

    You might be as worked up as me, but you clearly don't have anywhere near the experience that I have or the amount invested as I have in this field. You are asking where the players are and assuming that since there are not producing 100s of youth players ready to be professionals that that means that nobody cares about youth development. It takes 10-12 years for this development to happen. Look at how long it took Germany to see their fruits. Spain's development system changed in the 90s. It took 12-15 years for that change to set in. The players are simply not there yet because it has only been a handful of years since this stuff has been a priority. Dallas is ahead of the curve. Galaxy have done a good job. NYRB is ahead of the curve. It takes time to set these systems up and develop players. Others are spending money and committing resources here, but it takes a lot of time to put this stuff into place. You do not understand how it works it you just think we should suddenly be producing top players or that training compensation or pro/rel would suddenly allow us to produce top talent. As for training compensation, I agree that is necessary, but that is not going to change much. You think a club can bank on developing pros and getting training compensation as the main source of revenue? Ha! That would be absolutely foolish and would lead to just about every one of those programs folding. Training compensation is a nice little kickback, but its not something you can set a budget around. Your naivety is astounding. I don't blame you because you clearly have no real experience here, but then why do you try to make it sound like you know all there is to know on the subject? You just don't really know what goes into producing players. Training compensation is a very small part of this equation. It would help the culture, yes, but it is not a silver bullet by any means. And you only think that a pro environment can exist with pro/rel? That is just foolish. There is a ton of incentive for MLS teams to produce players for a multitude of reasons. But even if that were true, we are at least a few years away from having the type of infrastructure to handle that setup. What you really mean is that a healthy "pyramid" is key to development, and you would be right if you said that. The development of USL is crucial to give 16, 17, 18 year old players in a professional environment. There is a long way to go, but the growth and emphasis on USL has been a major step in the right direction as far as this professional environment that I mention reaching lower and wider. This, again, will take time to really start producing but it's happening. Just like everything else that is happening around you that you are oblivious to. Which, again, is not your fault because you are not actually in this world. Do you understand how different the landscape is now than it was just five years ago? Another 5-10 years and we should be cooking. Your perspective is just way off.

  19. don Lamb replied, February 14, 2016 at 5:15 p.m.

    A rather random article that gives an example of is becoming more and more common: http://scratchingthepitch.com/2016/02/11/league1-ontarios-role-in-player-development/

  20. don Lamb replied, February 14, 2016 at 10:04 p.m.

    Okay, so you want some info about homegrown signings in MLS? Why didn't you just say so? Yes, there are a ton more homegrown signings in MLS now than there were 2 and 5 years ago. I think NYRB has signed five just this winter. These players will be offered better salaries once they have proven that they can add something to the club, but for now of course their salaries are lower than established players who come into the league older (many of whom have come from good leagues). Nevertheless, Jordan Morris' deal shows that this could change. Remember though that he is 22. Not many 18 year old players are going to command such a big first contract. Consider also the time that it takes to develop players. Many of the early homegrown players did not work out because very few were brought up in a good development system. The quality of the homegrown players of the last couple of years is much better from a depth standpoint. You can't pretend like I am not saying that training compensation is an important change that needs to happen. Of course it will help the culture a lot -- that's exactly what I said. You copied about three of my sentences after you called me dumb. My point about training compensation is that it won't change the landscape THAT much. Don't come to me asking me to give you explanations of why DA system does not let kids play up. I clearly am not a huge fan of the USSDA. As to your question about the number of young players getting chances in MLS -- Actually, even with all of these fogies, MLS is a fairly young league. Plenty of young players get a lot of minutes. I bet it is on par with most other leagues in the world. You really have nothing left but to concede that MLS and the US as a whole are growing drastically when it comes to youth development.

  21. don Lamb replied, February 14, 2016 at 10:21 p.m.

    AA - You are unrelenting. I hope you approach your day job with as much enthusiasm. I can tell you that I do. Your expectations are based in nothing. You are not actually looking at what is going on around you before blindly assuming that we should be producing players all these players. Spain made a change to focus on a small sided game training curriculum in the early/mid 90s. Horst Wein (God rest his soul -- he just died today :( :( :( ) wrote this manual. We saw where that took them and what kind of players it developed 15 years later. Germany switched their system somewhere around 2002 and 10 years later, they were better than everyone else. The USSDA system is not what is going to ignite this development, so don't mention anything about it starting nine years ago. It really started about five years ago with the initial investment of MLS, and it continues to develop rapidly in MLS and lower leagues. The key change is here will not be the implementation of one rule or league or system. The change will really happen when there is a critical mass of players, fans, coaches, money, etc. etc. that fill the culture. We are getting closer, but we had longer to go and a steeper hill to climb than those nations. We know that the work we were doing in the 90s and 00s to develop players was not good enough. We will not know if the methods that we are using now are good enough for another 5-10 years. Until then any judgement is premature. Criticism is of course warranted and helpful, but wild, sweeping, uninformed manifestos don't help much. Being inside the business, I have faith that we are growing and -- in large part -- doing some major things right.

  22. don Lamb replied, February 15, 2016 at 8:41 a.m.

    MLS academies are very different from USSDAs. For starters, MLS teams offer more spots at no cost. Secondly, more and more MLS academies are doing things residency programs. Most importantly, MLS teams have reserve teams and opportunities for the best players to play in places like USL or on reserve leagues. MLS academies are developing in a way very different from USSDAs. And we are producing much better players than we have in the past. Our national teams are more talented and we have young players at places like Dortmund, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Fiorentina, plus others who will be signed by big teams soon. When you consider also the number of youth players playing professionally in MLS and Liga MX, it's obvious that the talent level of our youth is much better and deeper than it has ever been.

  23. don Lamb replied, February 15, 2016 at 1:20 p.m.

    Agreed it's not perfect, and there is a long way to go. If, five years from now, we have not made another astronomical leap, I will be very disappointed.

  24. don Lamb replied, February 16, 2016 at 12:47 p.m.

    Interesting take. He is right in his overall point but off in some of the details. Thankfully the league is moving in this direction. He should add NYRB to his list of teams with youth players to follow closely this season. However, it is foolish to think that MLS teams can afford to let players develop in the top flight. They need players who are ready to contribute. The place for them to develop is in the lower divisions. That is why the USL thing is so crucial. And the biggest factor is that the players are not there, en masse, yet. They are starting to come as FCD and NYRB are showing, but we are a few years away from really being able to expect a large number of clubs to each produce big time players. The infrastructure was just put in place. The good thing is that things are definitely moving in this direction. Even many of the foreign players that the league have signed this offseason have been young prospects. This does not mean that the league will not be going after Ibra, Ronaldo, Messi, etc. when the time comes as well.

  25. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2016 at 10:18 a.m.

    There are so many fallacies in your argument. Unfortunately don't have time to keep on debating with you...

    You didn't see Drogue's value last year??
    You don't see the young players that MLS is bring in also?
    You think that young promising players in South America who have their dreams set on big European clubs are just going to up and come here in droves?
    You don't think that the best players in the world, past their prime, have some real value to this league other than selling jerseys?
    Is MLS just supposed to ignore the business side of things?
    Is it possible for MLS to have 20-25 of the world's former top players in league and still emphasize youth development (there are roughly 600 spots up for grabs).
    Do MLS teams feel no pressure to win just because there is no relegation (they don't think that winning is a good way to put butts in the seats? they don't see any value in making the playoffs? they don't want to be an embarrassment?)

    please...

  26. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2016 at 1:42 p.m.

    Well, you could also say that the teams at the bottom of the MLS table are much closer to the teams at the top of the table than what the difference is in other leagues. So, while there might not be pressure to avoid relegation, there is always pressure to put together a team that will get to the top soon, if not this year. MLS teams are under plenty of pressure to perform. There are a lot of people pushing anti-MLS narratives that really don't make much sense. For the record, I think pro/rel is eventually a must. I think that MLS also realizes this. And, that is what is behind this endless expansion push. I am sure they don't want a 36-40 team league, but at those numbers, you can have pro/rel while still offering security and ensuring standards, which will be good for everyone.

  27. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2016 at 1:55 p.m.

    MLS is not going to hold on to players who want to test themselves in other leagues. Mexico is obviously scouting the league and going after a few players every year. That is no different than young players going to Scandinavia as many have in recent years. China is a completely different story. You chide MLS for overpaying for a handful of legit stars who bring pedigree and interest to the league, but when another league overpays for an MLS player, now MLS is bush league. Selling good players is something that every league does, so it's really nothing to panic about. The key is that MLS is producing prospects at a rate that is has never produced them.

  28. Brian Gara, February 2, 2016 at 9:31 a.m.

    Has U.S. Youth Soccer decided how to deal with 8th grade "trapped" players? My daughter (U13) has a fall birthday and is currently in 7th grade. According to everything I have seen, next year she will need to move 2 levels, to 15U. Because most kids at this age level are playing High School soccer, there is generally no fall season for club players. Is the only solution to skip playing in the fall? Will there be an increase in fall 15U options at the club level? Or will there be allowances for these 15U 8th graders so they can play down (at 14U) in the fall before moving to 15U in the spring? I have been trying to find out what the options may be, but frankly, have been very disappointed in the lack of discussion regarding 8th graders who have an August to December birthday.

  29. M L replied, February 2, 2016 at 10:08 a.m.

    Brian, your club can invoke the 'Tweener' rule -- long used by kindergarten redshirts -- and she'll repeat her U14 fall season by playing down, and then rejoin her team in the winter/spring.

  30. Jen Sanders replied, February 2, 2016 at 11:43 a.m.

    To ML: I don't understand the idea of playing down. You can not play down. If you are a 2003 you are not allowed to play in a game with the 2004s. This is a completely unacceptable replacement for the kids with the end of year birth dates who will loose their fall teams their 8th grade year. Completely unacceptable!

  31. Raymond Weigand replied, February 2, 2016 at 11:54 a.m.

    She will not 'repeat' U14 ... she is U13 ... the tweener rule allows for 1/2 season at U14 before leap frogging to U15.

  32. M L replied, February 2, 2016 at 1:17 p.m.

    Jen, look up the solutions for "trapped" or "tweener" players. It becomes a thing during the redshirt 8th-grade year, when the player is in middle school and his U15 teammates are playing HS (and there's no fall club season in deference to HS).

    The tweener is given the option to play U14 again. For one, short glorious fall season, he goes from being the youngest on his team to being the oldest.

    Then in Nov/Dec it's back to U15s.

  33. John Bada replied, February 2, 2016 at 1:41 p.m.

    M L: So if there are 8 "trapped" players at U15 and there is only 1 U14 team of 16 players in the club, the U14 team becomes a team of 24 players in the fall? Am I understanding what you're saying correctly?

  34. Jen Sanders replied, February 2, 2016 at 4:41 p.m.

    ML thanks for that info, I was unaware. I still think it's a weak solution - how is a club supposed to logistically make this happen? They will have tryout in the spring to create their next year's team. What is their motivation to create a roster of kids that will fall apart as of the winter? There is a team coming from U13 that expects to stay together for U14. Are they going to cut some of those kids to make room for the "tweeners"? then have too few kids for the U14 team in the spring? I must be missing something (please tell me if I am!) they can't be that stupid as to think that is the answer.

  35. John Bada, February 2, 2016 at 9:59 a.m.

    More non-answers from a US Soccer sycophant. Way to stick up for the millions of children who will be adversely effected by the Birth Year mandate Mr. Woitalla. And stop with the "Matrix" already, it explains nothing. We're not idiots. Just like we figured out the August 1 to July 31 year, we'll figure out this one also.
    I want to know where the individual is within US youth soccer leadership who is going to stand up and stop this nonsense? Apparently it will not be Mr. Woitalla.
    Exit question: besides the 1% of potential national team players that will supposedly be id'd more easily, who will benefit from this change. My guess, the mega-clubs that most of the youth leadership is affiliated with. As the smaller clubs, who do not have the numbers to accommodate these changes fold, the PDA's, Rush's, Tophat's, etc. will be there to offer a helping hand to all those players looking for teams...for a price. Pay to Play will be embedded in our system even more.
    I will add in closing, with all of Mr. Woitalla's twisting and turning (he likes the simplicity of January 1 to December 31. That's sweet)he can't come up with how this will improve the development of our young players. No one can, because this will not effect player development. What a joke.

  36. John Bada, February 2, 2016 at 10:16 a.m.

    To All American: Your first point is wrong. I care about my team playing good soccer. My belief is; wins will come as a result of playing good soccer, not all the time but more often than not. But winning is not what we are after as a goal. It's a by-product. To your second point, what you say is true. My daughter can just make new friends. But why. Why force her to? Why force millions to? A player can play up now and make new friends a year older if they like and are good enough. Why make this change then, with all it's problems?
    As for ID'ing players for international competition, beside the miniscule number of children in this group, there are already means to identify these players by birth year with programs such as ODP. And don't throw out there, "then they should play rec". That's demeaning to the millions of children playing soccer with college as the goal, not professional soccer.
    As for the other US Soccer mandates, I'm fine with them. At least you can make a rational argument for them being beneficial with respect to development.

  37. Jen Sanders replied, February 2, 2016 at 11:42 a.m.

    I couldn't agree more

  38. Dennis Mueller, February 2, 2016 at 10:55 a.m.

    Back in 1991 or so, the age group cut-off date was changed from Jan 1 to Aug 1. This was to be more aligned with typical school entry date cutoffs. It did have that effect when my son's team was reformed, it went from a mixture of 2 grades to almost all 1 school class. It did not change the soccer at all, but it did give competitive advantage to those teams able to use the new dates to improve their rosters; one local league team already composed of mostly younger players won the State Cup at the younger group, while another used the availability of a few older players to win the State Cup in that age group. In neither case, nor on my son's team did the long term layer development change much. (The Aug cutoff did make competing in international tournaments more challenging since teams are grouped by the oldest player.) Basically in a year most people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

  39. Rich Blast, February 2, 2016 at 11:05 a.m.

    For me, I could care less.

    However, in the US it seems most natural to play with kids in your same grade in school(assuming no holding back, etc). Mostly what I saw now was this, 7th graders played at same level, 8th graders played at same level. Next year will be old 7th graders with young 8th graders. So you won't be playing with kids in your grade as much.

  40. John Bada, February 2, 2016 at 11:25 a.m.

    In a year, every child born August through December going into their 8th grade or senior year will be reminded of what the fuss is about. And every child who quits soccer because they are not able to play with their friends or because their club folded due to the fact they did not have the numbers to accommodate the mandates will be reminded what the fuss is about.

  41. John Bada, February 2, 2016 at 11:40 a.m.

    All American: I see your point about training compensation and agree completely. That makes absolute sense to me.
    As for just playing up, I agree with you here also but some clubs will not allow a team to do that because of how it will effect the teams above and below. That's my point about numbers. If you have huge numbers you have options and the way it stands only the largest Pay to Play clubs will be able to accommodate birth year. As for "rec mentality", again I see your point and I agree to a certain extent with your definition. From experience though I've found even dedicated players sway in their dedication. The bond that keeps them coming back is the relationships on the team. When you reach the 13 years of age period when drop out rates sore, their friends may be the only thing keeping that player engaged in soccer.
    You hit the nail on the head that this is not and either/or issue but that is what US Soccer is making it. Just this tiny dialogue is enough to make me believe if US Soccer would just have a conversation about the problems of the Birth Year mandate things could be worked out but all I keep getting is referred to the matrix. It's very very frustrating.

  42. Raymond Weigand, February 2, 2016 at 12:08 p.m.

    Hah! USSF didn't think this through (obviously) ... one or two in the USSF just want to be like the rest of the world. If the decision making process was thought through ... the current system would be grandfathered through to conclusion ... leagues would begin at U4 (and call them U5) and by 2026 the current crew of players will not even know why Tab Ramos is snickering on the futsal court doing toe taps.

  43. John Bada, February 2, 2016 at 1:05 p.m.

    A-A, I see where you're coming from now. So tell me, do you think anything resembling our discussion took place at US Soccer, US Youth Soccer, US Club Soccer, etc.. You addressed an obviously angry individual(me)with respect and real solutions to the problems birth year is supposed to be addressing (youth development and international competitiveness. Thank you. Now how do I vote for you so you can be USSF president?

  44. K Michael, February 2, 2016 at 1:07 p.m.

    Do keep in mind that everything is relative. Jen, your current younger 2004 will "skip" u12 beginning this Fall, but so will every other younger 2004. Instead of finishing the club career at today's u18, it will be called u19. Just a label, in the end. It will still be the same amount of play. It does, however, reverse the Relative Age Effect from in your short-term favor to out of short-term favor, which is a phenomena that USSF is acutely aware of; and is beginning to address meaningfully. Once your child hits puberty, however, the effects of RAE do dissipate and your kid will rise or fall on his work rate, Soccer IQ, First Touch, etc. To All-American's points, the best youth development systems de-emphasize winning and emphasize long-term soccer individual development, so that our first American "Messi" isn't shunted out of the sport because he was born in October and hasn't hit puberty yet! A system emphasizing "winning" state cups ends promising kids' potential; a system set up to develop players cherishes the u14 runt with superior skill and IQ; and while that kid may be kept on the sideline in certain physical matches, he will train alongside his bigger/older mates until he hits his spurt and then runs circles around everybody.

  45. Jen Sanders replied, February 2, 2016 at 4:36 p.m.

    K Michael...my point by skipping U12 is not the mistake people make by saying they will miss a "year" - obviously the only way to miss a year is not to play. What I mean is that all the younger 2004's will miss a year of 8v8. The peers he is playing with will play 8v8 next year as a U12, but since he will not be a U12, he goes straight to 11v11. Being a big believer in the small sided game, this is disappointing. I hope it "evens out" post puberty but at the highly competitive club (like he is) that difference in the short term might mean no spot for him next year. I am very realistic and get that he will survive, he's a good player. But, this is so painful for him to lose his team, his coach, and his friends, and to possibly be cut from a club he's spent so many years at....it's just hard to watch. Feels like he's being cast aside and US soccer keeps calling it "ripping off a bandaid" which is really starting to irritate me. Sorry, it's more than that for the individual kids who are experiencing it.

  46. Jen Sanders replied, February 2, 2016 at 4:46 p.m.

    Sorry, and what I forgot to mention is that this should be the only birth year that losing a year of 8v8 ever happens to. Being a late 2004 during this change in policy is truly being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  47. M L, February 2, 2016 at 1:29 p.m.

    Hey, when did US schools change the old December cutoff date, which essentially established a calendar-year registration system? ... Truthfully, THIS is what clashes with the traditional baseball, hockey, and (now) soccer cutoffs.

  48. John Bada, February 2, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.

    K Michael: The issue for Aug-Dec players at U19 is if half there team is in college, they're up the creek. If the club is not big enough to compensate for the missing players those kids don't play or they have to switch clubs. Just switching clubs may be no big deal to some but a big deal to others ($ and distance being two factors).
    As for RAE, you are correct, as the children get older the physical differences will diminish. Unfortunately, the older ages is not where the root problem of RAE is found. It is in the youngest ages where the biggest, strongest and fastest players are most often put on the A team and the others on the B & C teams. This bias follows the players throughout their careers even when the physical differences are minimized at older ages. The A teams get the training, the competition, the showcases, etc..
    I'm interested to hear how USSF is trying to address RAE seriously (I'm not being sarcastic). To me having a landscape where the Jan-Apr bias is covered by ODP and similar entities and club soccer has a Aug-Dec bias makes more sense if you're trying to ID the best players. It's not fixing RAE but acknowledging it and trying to work with it's biases.
    I agree completely with you last point.

  49. Brian Gara, February 2, 2016 at 1:49 p.m.

    I hope they will make allowances for the 8th grade trapped players to play U14 in the fall and then move to U15 in the spring. However, John Bada brings up a good point - how will teams accommodate more than a couple of these players for the fall teams? If my kid did not have a fall birthday, I'm not sure I'd be thrilled to have a fall team consist of 20+ kids just to deal with this rule change.

  50. John Bada replied, February 2, 2016 at 2:45 p.m.

    Brian, stop being so dramatic. Tell your 12 year old daughter to man up and play on. Or as Sam Snow responded to me in a response to my email about his proposed solutions to the Birth Year mandate problems..."check out the matrix and Keep On Kickin'!" (end sarcasm)

  51. Ric Fonseca, February 2, 2016 at 1:53 p.m.

    Hallellujah! I had to really chuckle at Mike's story about the coach having to explain the parent what USSF is or what the acronym stands for! Simply stated IMHO, this is one of the principal reasons as to why we are lagging in the world of youth soccer development. So why don't we just suck it up and let the kids enjoy the sport knowing that the opposing team will be the same age bracket, and not see it loaded with "older" players as has been the case, and so PLAY ON I say!!!!

  52. pat feulner, February 2, 2016 at 3:06 p.m.

    All, you have to take a minute and step back and look at the BIG picture. US Soccer will not admit to the real reasons they're making these changes nor will they admit to the obvious. First, you will never develop the BEST athletes in the States to play soccer because the BEST athletes in the States don't play soccer! Even after the surge of kids playing soccer over the past 20 years the best athletes we have still play football, basketball, and even baseball. Next, Klingsman hates the way our system is set up especially kids playing high school and college soccer. So with that in mind their thinking is how do we get the best athletes we can play all year within OUR system. This was not done with the average kids in mind. Case and point, I've already heard coaches telling next years freshman that in order to make the top team at their club, they have to make a year round commitment. In other words skip high school play. Also look at the Development Academy which now starts at U12. Do you think those kids will play HS or college...no way. This is just the beginning but it's the plan so you might as well get used to it!

  53. M L replied, February 2, 2016 at 5:37 p.m.

    A-A, the whole 'soccer is much more than athleticism' argument is such a JOKE. Somehow Americans are too simple to understand the great, mystical game of soccer? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That's what the Euros want us to believe. ... Go visit the baseball, football, basketball Halls of Fame. Those are your top-level American soccer players who never were.

  54. M L replied, February 2, 2016 at 5:46 p.m.

    Billy Beane talking about when he saw a teenage Gareth Bale in person: "If he was in the State he would never have touched a soccer ball. He'd have had no chance. He'd be playing wide receiver for the New York Jets, he'd be playing centerfield for a Major League Baseball team, or he'd be a shooting guy for an NBA team."

  55. M L replied, February 3, 2016 at 10:47 a.m.

    I did notice, Pat, that Jurgen recently said he has liked what he's seen from NCAA soccer after observing his son's freshman year at Berkeley. ... Obviously, he'd prefer NCAA soccer to have a longer, multi-semester schedule like basketball.

  56. M L replied, February 3, 2016 at 11:34 a.m.

    AA, you’re hyperventilating. And no, Argentina, Spain, Panama — even Germany, which is half the size of the state of Texas — do NOT have the same depth of sports culture, talent, and resources that we have in the United States. (Have you ever watched the Olympics???) This is why the USMNT can compete with one arm tied around its back while blindfolded and STILL make it out of the so-called Group of Death. … Meanwhile, you’re twisting your arguments into a pretzel. (Panama’s second-favorite sport is soccer, not boxing, by the way. And Messi’s career development was made possible because of the resources in Spain, not Argentina. Africa? A couple of those nations regularly give the USMNT fits. Imagine if they had our resources!) … If the United States funneled its passions and resources into soccer, it’d be ballgame over. It’d be a joke. They’d cancel the World Cup. The rest of the world would pick up their ball and go home.

  57. pat feulner, February 2, 2016 at 3:45 p.m.

    AA, there's not a single player on the US squad that's faster or more athletic than any running back or DB in the NFL. If you look at the size of the players playing in the EPL, they're the size of our linebackers and small forwards (minus the mass). I'm not saying all would be great soccer players just like I wouldn't say every NFL player could play in the NBA but other countries do not compete for athletes like we do here... and don't look now but here comes LaCrosse into the mix.

  58. Ric Fonseca replied, February 2, 2016 at 4:24 p.m.

    Pat, comparing NFL players to soccer players, is like comparing an orange to a tangelo, no, better said, a grapefruit (think sizes)! BTW, could an NFL player last a full 90 minute soccer match, and cover as much distance as a futbol-soccer player? And lastly AA has hit it square on the head vis-a-vis basketball, and as for rugby, there is France, Argentina the South Pacific Islands of Tonga, NZ, the Aussies, they even play it in Mexico - as they also play tackle football, but can never compete with some college/universities or even less the NFL. Back to rugby, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, and, believe it or not, Brasil, etc, play a mean game! Lastly, soccer grew out of rugby, the staid Britishers decided to call soccer a game played by ruffians and rugby by gentlemen. Interesting history on these two sports it is! So, let's say, PLAY ON!!!

  59. M L replied, February 2, 2016 at 5:48 p.m.

    Pat, when people look at Altidore for the first time they think RB or WR. Quit kidding yourself.

  60. Jen Sanders, February 2, 2016 at 4:53 p.m.

    I'm not sure the best athlete argument is addressing the motives of US Soccer. I think what is really going on is that U.S. academy and national team level youth coaches who go abroad are frustrated with the fact that their best players are, due to our structure and "age advantage" are generally Aug-Dec birth dates. Then they play birth year against teams structured by birth year - and the majority of their best players can be up a almost a year older (Jan-Mar). Bigger, stronger, faster. They want to even up the play at the international level for the tiny minority of national team level kids/teenagers and feel this will continue through at the higher level. Just a thought.

  61. M L, February 2, 2016 at 6:38 p.m.

    OF COURSE the Euros are going to tell us we're hopeless in soccer -- that our athleticism is actually somehow our biggest weakness. (???) Of course they're going to tell us we just don't get it. Of course they're going to be skeptical, and at times unfair, when our prospects compete for the top jobs on the Continent. ... THESE ARE THE SAME DEVIOUS PEOPLE WHO NAMED 'GREENLAND.' ... These are the same people, who in the 1980s, after 200 years, stopped calling it soccer because they thought the term had become 'too American.' ... Do you think deep-down they're hoping the US closes the talent gap? Think they'll be pleased if the MLS ever starts luring away the top prime talent with $$$? ... I mean, aren't we Americans insufferable enough without dominating soccer?

  62. M L replied, February 2, 2016 at 8 p.m.

    OK, don't be so impressed by the Mexicans, either. They had a nice tournament in 2014 -- which they BARELY qualified for. ... And comparing the African-Americans to the Africans is another great way to get lost. ... The answers are here, on our own soil.

  63. John Schultz replied, February 3, 2016 at 9:56 a.m.

    What makes the African American so different from the rest of African decent athletes in the world exactly? LOL. Man you are lost. Dont be imp[ressed in Mexico? I think you dont even follow soccer. You just rambling. Mexico won the Olympics beating Brazil with Neymar, Hulk. Mexico has been a steady top 4 team in U17 World Cups and always a force in U20. Again, they have the most export "athletes" for soccer from America behind only Brazil and Argentina. To add to that, Mexico would compete a lot closer with exporting players if their lkeague didnt pay so well when compared to Argentina.

  64. M L replied, February 3, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

    John -- come up for some air, pal. ... Mexico has all the soccer talent and passion in the world. Yet its national system is a dumpster fire. You go ahead and take all the management classes you want south of the border. I'll pass. ... And the difference between African athletes and African-American athletes? Hmmm. You think maybe it might be the difference between America and Africa? Economy? Infrastructure? Resources? Do you REALLY need this spelled out for you?

  65. Ric Fonseca replied, February 3, 2016 at 5:16 p.m.

    ML your analogy that CM (Stanford) is a great running back and shoulda won the Heisman, however, just 'cause his parents were into sports, dad a FB player, and mom a D1 soccer player, does not actually mean he would/could last a full 90! Remember, that football requires bursts of speed, e.g. why do you think they have a 40yd run test, and football (US) has so many stops, time-outs, tv time outs - I'm sure you've seen a fb game on ESPN - that gives the players a rest of almost 30 seconds to even 3 minutes. Anyhow, I digress, but your historical info, re: Groenland, and that 1980... leaves a lot to be desired. Interesting comments, though!

  66. K Michael, February 2, 2016 at 7:29 p.m.

    ML, You are mind-numbingly naïve with your "if our best athletes played soccer.." meme. Soccer, like every other sport, has positions that require different body types, different physical attributes to thrive. Goalkeepers built like linebackers/power forwards with great agility; No.9s built like a big nfl wideout, etc. Also keep in mind that the game is played with your feet and the goal is at ground level. Basketball is played in the air, football requires brute force to move a football through opponents over a line. Hence, basketball players are tall, generally, football players are big, and great soccer players are often compact and closer to the ground. Also, ML, are you suggesting that in the whole country of Argentina, Messi is the best athlete because "those" countries have their best athletes play footie? Are you insinuating that Neymar is the prototypical Brazilian athlete? Do you mean to push forward the idea that Iniesta is SPain's best athlete? Because I assure you, if Lebron James trained intensely his whole life in soccer, Messi would still wipe his arse with him.

  67. M L replied, February 2, 2016 at 7:51 p.m.

    Again, Billy Beane, in Simon Kuper's fantastic book, Soccer Men: "These are the exact same guys that are playing our sports. They just chose [soccer]. Had they grown up in the United States, they would be playing at the highest level at whatever sport they did." ... This is not quantum theory, K. Very simple. Yet your argument is hopelessly rigid and narrow.

  68. K Michael, February 2, 2016 at 8:32 p.m.

    ML, oh my goodness, you ARE suggesting that Messi would be an NFL wideout; that Neymar would be a shooting guard in the NBA; and Iniesta could run point for the GDubs! And I'm rigid and narrow?! Who am I missing? What NHL team would Suarez be anchoring? Which NFL team would have the one-two punch in the backfield of Cazorla and Giovinco? You're not really trying, are you? Seriously.

  69. M L replied, February 3, 2016 at 10:31 a.m.

    Billy Beane said when he sees Messi, he sees someone with the agility of Barry Sanders and the field vision of Steve Nash. So I guess so, yes -- a 5-foot-7 guy with Messi's natural gifts could theoretically make it in the NFL. (Present-day prejudice about white RBs & WRs aside.) ... And like Beane, I firmly believe the reverse is possible. Gareth Bale would be an all-star in the NBA, NFL, MLB. And in an alternate universe, where the USA is a soccer-first nation, guys with the talent of Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Maurice Jones-Drew -- honestly, the list is as long as the real one -- could be OUR Messi, Maradona, Pele, Cruyff, Zidane, Beckenbauer,Ronaldo, DiStefano, Puskas, George Best, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, whatever. Definitely. ... The talent pool has always been here if we, as a country, truly ever wanted it. We didn't want it. We still don't give a crap. God help the world if we ever DO really want it.

  70. K Michael, February 2, 2016 at 8:45 p.m.

    Listen, I'll give you this, ML, there are those rare athletes that whichever sport they choose to focus on from their early years, they will likely reach the highest levels (Gareth Bale, CR7 are good examples). Then, there are the others that gravitate to the sport which best suits their own unique physique, disposition, and mental acumen (this would include the compact magic men of soccer: Messi, Maradona, Silva, et al, men who would likely NOT succeed in a sport to which they did not possess this natural predisposition). The US soccer community should nurture both the do-anything natural athlete AND the made-for-soccer athlete.

  71. M L replied, February 3, 2016 at 10:37 a.m.

    Exactly, K. If US soccer ever attracts & nurtures "both the do-anything natural athlete AND the made-for-soccer athlete" it's ballgame over for the rest of the world. Truly.

  72. K Michael, February 2, 2016 at 8:53 p.m.

    ML, your early examples of Edelman, Welker, Amandola, Sanders, are spot on; but, they are not the USAs best athletes, either. They ARE quick, agile, compact, and balanced, and have the ideal physique for box-to-box soccer. And the USMNT does have guys that athletic already (Yedlin, Jones, Jordan, for three). Dr. J, however, not so much. That dude, (btw, my favorite Bballer of all time) would be a knee injury waiting to happen, and maybe could play centerback or GK.

  73. M L replied, February 3, 2016 at noon

    K and AA - Our definitions of "best athlete" aren't matching up. How could one not consider NFL HoFer Barry Sanders one of our country's greatest athletes? HOW? ... And I don't understand how one can agree that Leo Messi is one of the greatest soccer players in the history of the planet, yet somehow argue he is not 'athletic.' Does he not possess a world-class combination of strength, agility, and stamina? ... You soccer snobs truly over-think yourselves into a knot.

  74. Bob Ashpole, February 2, 2016 at 11:12 p.m.

    I wish there was half as much concern about player development as the stir over the age groupings for matches.

  75. Mitch Miller, February 3, 2016 at 9:32 a.m.

    Absolutely agree, we need our best athletes to choose soccer in order to compete on the highest level. Obviously Pirlo, Totti and Del Piero would have been selected as blue chip athletes at our local high schools.
    Same for Iniesta, Xavi and David Villa. Or maybe we need that blazing speed of Schweinsteiger or the power and brute force of Phillip Lahm. What a PILE.
    Yes we need some power and pace in footy but its the usually little maestros that run the show and make the difference. Thats what we need to develop, we have the athletes.

  76. M L replied, February 4, 2016 at 3:33 a.m.

    Exactly, Mitch. We have the maestros. Currently, our very best are running backs, receivers, middle infielders, point guards. And a lot of them are quite short, too! Which according to this room is a prerequisite to starring in soccer. Yay short white people!

  77. kmagarden A, February 3, 2016 at 12:55 p.m.

    So my currently U11 daughter will need to play U13 next year. Missing out on her final 9v9 opportunity. And, as a (end of) December birthday, she will turn 13 six months AFTER her U13 season ends. That just sounds crazy. If we are doing birth year groupings, why not run soccer seasons by calendar year as well? It's more or less a year round sport anyway.....

  78. Jen Sanders replied, February 3, 2016 at 8:02 p.m.

    I have a child in the same position. It's very frustrating. Probably the same as you.... mine will be still be 12 when then trying out for the U14's. It's just nonsense - but for this particular batch of 2004's, they lose the critical extra year of 8v8 - it's just skipped over for them and won't happen to anyone else again.

  79. K Michael, February 3, 2016 at 1:14 p.m.

    Mitch, DING,DING,DING, we have a winner!! ML makes some very credible points, but so do we. Of course soccer needs athleticism; so does every sport. And of course, you cannot have 11 players all 5'7 or under. But there IS a glaring lack of creative playmakers on our national teams. And those playmakers, more often than not, are compact, shorter, quicker players. And it is this "best athletes" meme that has hindered the nurturing and development of this type of player in our country. And yes, athletes do tend to gravitate towards the sport in which hey are naturally and physically predisposed to succeed in. Thus, tall athletic kids are pushed towards bball, stocky, powerful kids move towards football, etc. But, in American soccer, for some stupid reason, there is a blind spot for the type of player that often makes the difference in winning and losing - and that IS the compact, quick, agile, creative, vertically-challenged athlete.

  80. K Michael, February 3, 2016 at 1:22 p.m.

    Look at our MNT. All small and power forwards, to use a bball analogy - not one point guard, or shooting guard for that matter! And that's not all on JK, either. You can't select what you do not have. This is completely due to the lack of consistent player development, and the patience to do it from the young ages and carry it through the puberty years to age 18/19. And that patience requires a de-emphasis on winning cups, as nobody gives a crap what cup your kid wins at u11 or u13!

  81. Douglas Wood, February 3, 2016 at 6:01 p.m.

    A lot of this could have been avoided if U.S. Soccer and U.S. Youth Soccer had shown any kind of competence in rolling it out. From the start, communication has been extremely poor or non-existent, thus causing much confusion for clubs and parents alike. From the initial publication of the wrong age matrix, it has been a disaster. I feel sorry for all the local and state administrators having to deal with this. Parents should not have to go to soccer forums to get basic information that U.S. Soccer and state soccer associations should be publicizing. This is the biggest issue in the youth soccer community but U.S. Soccer's website has no information readily available about it. It's pathetic.

  82. Mitch Miller, February 4, 2016 at 9:26 a.m.

    ML short, tall, white, pink couldn't careless. I want to see us produce a clever, crafty, top technique play maker with world class vision. That guy doesn't need to be a certain size or have world class speed. Thats our problem in the great old US of A. We want everyone to fit our idea of an athletic mold. Go Big, Fast young and win now baby!
    Lots of quality players in other sports aren't the fastest or strongest. Many top QB's are not top athletes in fact the are slow and don't move well at all(Aikman, Brady, Manning) I could go through every sport but you get the idea.

  83. GA Soccer Forum, February 5, 2016 at 2:28 p.m.

    Parents aren't the only ones not happy with this process --

    STATEMENT FROM YOUTH COUNCIL TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP TO U.S. SOCCER

    http://usclubsoccer.org/2016/02/05/statement-from-youth-council-technical-working-group-to-u-s-soccer/

  84. Brian Gara, February 6, 2016 at 11:13 a.m.

    http://www.nscaa.com/news/2016/02/hank-leung-letter

  85. Larry Chen, February 12, 2016 at 5:48 a.m.

    I'm not sure if this is a well known fact but Norcal Premier is moving to calendar based age groups in Spring 2016 for 03, 04, 05, & younger age groups.
    In my son's 03 age group, we are seeing the fall 03 kids join. There are 3-4 very technical fall 03 kids that are making a strong case to be included on the 1st 03 team. I must say, the quality of the training sessions looks improved compared to last Fall due to the fact that the fall 03 kids are quicker & more technical than the fall 02 kids that were dispatched up in age group.
    Props to my son's coaches that have managed this transition to perfection.
    As an observation, I see the RAE being paraded in front of us as we make this transition to calandar based age groups. It is my belief that the younger fall kids of calandar based will be treated more fairly than the younger summer kids of scholastic based of yesteryear. Cheers!

  86. Dan Gates, February 19, 2016 at 4:37 p.m.

    I understand the reasoning and actually support the move. My real objection is that my son is one of those that will be caught in the situation of moving from U14 to U16 in one year. He has been on two team in 5 years and has a lot of friends on his current team. What this move does to him is he will not be on a spring team with most of his friends. It also brings into question as to who the coach will be and whether there will be enough coaches to cover the available teams. The effort made over the years to produce a cohesive structure and team may well be gone and that is a shame. The note in the article that this will all be fine in a few years is correct since all the older kids that are in a tough position right now will have moved on to college, moved on to something different or quit the sport. In small towns and city's this could have a terrible impact in the short term sport since there is already a shortage of kids and coaches. Many of the older kids will be making choices going into high school as to what they will be doing in 2017, and the available sports options may present a better option to a lot of these kids.

  87. Big Dad, June 2, 2016 at 1:13 p.m.

    Watching good players leave the game left and right as this goes down....sad

  88. Rob Kalal, June 9, 2016 at 11:58 a.m.

    I heard from the Director of Coaching at the club where my kids play that reports are coming in from clubs across the country that are already having their tryouts - that numbers are WAY down on the girls side.
    So I guess we will wait and see how much USSF is willing to pay for this 'simplicity'.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications