A major schism: U.S. Youth Soccer strikes back at Washington state for seeking sole USSF registration

By Mike Woitalla

In response to Washington Youth Soccer announcing its quest to register its players solely with the U.S. Soccer Federation, U.S. Youth Soccer announced that it has “formally accepted WYSA's resignation from U.S. Youth Soccer effective as of January 1, 2017" -- a move WYSA states it has not taken.

The Dec. 15 USYS memo to its state associations also announced it was rescinding its offer for Washington Youth Soccer (WYSA) to host the 2017 U.S. Youth Soccer Regional Championships in June and is revoking from WYSA “any and all benefits” associated with U.S. Youth Soccer, including competitions such as the USYS National Championship and the Olympic Development Program (ODP).

The USYS memo stated its actions were a response to a Nov. 21 memo sent to USYS from Washington Youth Soccer in which WYSA advised that its Board had directed staff to begin the process of sole registration with the U.S. Soccer Federation “as soon as possible.”

(Washington Youth Soccer has responded that the USYS memo included "untrue allegations" and that it has not "resigned" from U.S. Youth Soccer.)

On Nov. 30, Washington Youth Soccer CEO Terry Fisher sent a letter to U.S. Soccer CEO & General Secretary Dan Flynn requesting that Washington Youth Soccer “proceed hand in hand with U.S. Soccer in the creation of a NEW 21st Century national youth soccer organization that addresses the critical needs to grow the sport in America.” Fisher’s letter was accompanied by a six-page proposal on the “Sole Registration of Youth Players to the U.S. Soccer Federation,” which included these complaints about the current multi-governing body system:

• “Too many participants at the youth level spend far too much time, energy, and resources chasing false inducements and not enough time in influential and aspirational development situations.”

• “Many technical and coaching experts … have recognized, studied, and discussed the unhealthy focus on results and ‘pay for play’ models that have diminished our ability to enhance performance, increase participation, and raise the level of play in the United States.”

• “The disconnect between the grassroots participants, member organizations, and the Federation is unique when compared to other NGBs [national governing bodies]. Nearly every other NGB offers direct linkage and member benefits associated with that membership.”

• “The current membership programs (namely National Championship Series, Presidents Cup, National League, Regional Leagues, ODP and ODP Championships, American Cup, Awards, ECNL, Premier Leagues, Workshop, etc.) have greatly varying degrees of participation and usefulness to their respective members and do not typically align with Federation best practices.”

• “With the prevalence of self-described academies and national leagues other than the Federation-directed Development Academy (“DA”), the youth soccer landscape has drastically changed in the past decade, however US Club Soccer and US Youth Soccer’s elite player programming has largely been constructed and implemented to protect business aspects, financial considerations, and geographical territory rather than being aligned, cooperative, and complementary to what has clearly become the new tip of the player development pyramid.”

The Washington Youth Soccer suggested a 2018 launch for the U.S. Soccer instituting direct programs.

U.S. Youth Soccer’s response in accepting what it described as “Washington Youth Soccer’s written notice to withdraw US Youth Soccer” as of Jan. 1, 2017, prompted a “Letter to our Membership” posted on Washington Youth Soccer’s web site on Dec. 16 in which Fisher and WYSA president Daren Mancini wrote that Washington Youth Soccer “has not resigned as a State Association member of US Youth Soccer and is taking a measured approach and framing its response. The sky is not falling. Programming continues uninterrupted.”

The letter states that “Due to the complexity and nature of US Youth Soccer’s letter, Washington Youth Soccer has retained legal counsel to address the comments and assertions made.”

U.S. Youth Soccer, founded in 1974, is one of four U.S. Soccer Federation national affiliate members for youth soccer along with U.S. Club Soccer (founded in 2001), AYSO (1964) and SAY Soccer (1967).

In U.S. Youth Soccer’s announcement that it was terminating Washington Youth Soccer’s membership, the memo signed by USYS chair Jesse Harrell and USYS CEO Christopher Moore stated:

“The consequence of WYSA’s action, and the manner in which it was taken, not only threatens their 90,000 registered players, but undermines US Youth Soccer nationally. The future success of US Youth Soccer depends on the ability to attract and keep our members.”

For its part, Washington Youth Soccer says it has for years expressed concerns about the leadership of U.S. Youth Soccer and has been working with "similarly situated State Associations that share a common view … Not one organization with whom we have spoken disagrees with our premise."

52 comments about "A major schism: U.S. Youth Soccer strikes back at Washington state for seeking sole USSF registration".
  1. Bob Ashpole, December 17, 2016 at 8:33 p.m.

    Sounds more like a blame game than a team sport.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, December 17, 2016 at 9:11 p.m.

    Not sure what to think Bob. I was in the St. Louis CYSO in the 60's, long before the explosive growth. And, JK was tasked with making the whole country uniform? If uniform, then WYSO is on to something, if not, then why not an alphabet soup approach? I sort of prefer one size doesn't fit all. It seems that we are too large and probably unable to reach consensus. Which is also why expecting to think we would ever develop a consistent particular style is a reach. I don't really think that's necessary anyway, but having legions of technical and smart players is required.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, December 18, 2016 at 12:04 a.m.

    My impression is that the way it was administered was that one organization--either AYSO or USYSA affiliated--was the state youth organization for each state area. There wasn't duplication in the administration of youth soccer. Then other organizations (I think US Club Soccer was the first) evaded the state regulation by introducing what I will call super leagues. These leagues were focused on zone 2 expensive travel soccer and basically ignored the state organizations. The trend continued with the USSF DA. The critical area for development (in my opinion) is zone 1 and to a large extent the national organizations are not involved, and even the state organizations have little involvement. Most of these players are not registered. The latest USSF downward reach into U12 is imo a big mistake for several reasons. "Elite" player soccer specialization programs are not needed or going to help in zone 1. What is needed is quality playing and training experiences that are inclusive, not exclusive. While great coaches for zone 1 are nice, they are not necessary to teach fundamentals. So there are 2 types of youth coaches needed, the trainers and supervisory coaches who train and guide the trainers. While competition is necessary, formal teams, leagues and tournaments are unnecessary diversions from player development. Blaming national organizations for what occurs locally in zone 1 is just an excuse.

  4. Scott Johnson replied, December 18, 2016 at 6:02 p.m.

    Pardon my ignorance--but "zone 1"? "zone 2"? Am not familiar with those terms. At any rate, a big problem is registration authorities that attempt to impose constraints on clubs, teams, players, coaches. There should only be one registration authority (or one per state, though in the modern age of technology a national registry is possible), whose ONLY job is registration: recording the information of players, coaches, refs, and other participants; making sure registrations are unique (no kid registers twice to evade club/league rules) and correct; and possibly tracking yellow and red cards. That's it--if the registration authority attempts to impose curricula, or impose licensing restrictions on coaches, or tell players/clubs that if you register with US, you can't play in a league with THEM, then the registrar is abusing its authority.

  5. Scott Johnson replied, December 18, 2016 at 6:08 p.m.

    This is not to say that there shouldn't be standards (why o why does this website strip out paragraph breaks), but imposing standards should be the job of clubs, leagues, and other such bodies, not of the registration authority. And there--I say let a hundred flowers bloom. The big problem in youth soccer is when league A says "league B is doing it wrong, so teams who play with us cannot play with them", and basically try to impose their standards on everyone. Let the USMNT impose what standards it likes on its development track, let MLS and the various foreign pro clubs that run academies in the US impose their standards. We don't have US Basketball telling the AAU and the YMCA and the high schools how the game of hoops must be coached--and we yet produce the best basketball players in the world.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, December 18, 2016 at 6:58 p.m.

    USYSA uses Zone 1 to refer to age 12 and under. Zone 2 is 17 and under. Zone 3 is 18 and older. I used USYSA terms because that is the article was about USYSA. Player registration is an example of something that promotes team competitions and doesn't benefit player development. In the past our best players played for multiple teams organizations, AYSO, USYSA and Hispanic leagues, which is generally now prohibited by USSF. In the past our best women players played against men and boys, sometimes informally and sometimes formally. I expect that the women's DA is going to ban that as well. Early specialization in one sport in the long run retards player development. It also creates a greater risk of injury. This is, however, the current USSF plan for elite players. The policy is not a matter of ignorance. Rather it is a matter of compromises and a desire of managers and coaches to control programs than delegate authority. Most of the comments I read on SA favor central control over local autonomy. In my experience central control of large programs is at best inefficient and at worse a failure. Some people mentioned standards. In my experience teaching to a standard establishes mediocrity. In educating and motivating youth we should strive for something greater than mediocrity. Excellence means exceeding what is standard.

  7. Scott Johnson replied, December 18, 2016 at 10:26 p.m.

    Thanks, Bob. Actually, I think we mostly agree here--when I said the registration authority's scope should be limited, one thing I forgot to include (but had in mind) was that the RA should not impose the one-team rule. If a player is rostered on ten different teams, that should be fine with the RA. Leagues, clubs, or tournaments would be free to require exclusivity if they want (and could check RA records to make sure there are no players registered in violation of their rules), but that's the business of the league or club, not the RA. And a good way to tell if a club is win-focused or development-focused is its attitude towards exclusivity--"Johnny can't play rec/futsal at the same time as he plays for Suburban FC, because he might get hurt/have a scheduling conflict/be taught something that our A-licensed coach disagrees with" suggests the club cares more about ensuring Johnny is in top form on game day, so his team can have the best shot of winning the match, rather than ensuring Johnny gets the most touches. (With the caveat that some clubs are restricted by the rules of their league or state association).

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, December 19, 2016 at 3:35 a.m.

    Just to put this "registration" issue in perspective, I was 62 years old before I played in my first USSF sanctioned match. The vast majority of soccer in this country is independent.

  9. Scott Johnson replied, December 19, 2016 at 2:37 p.m.

    And any club/league that wishes to not avail itself of registration infrastructure, need not do so. I consider this to be infrastructure, every bit as much as a pitch in a local park. (Though I'm wondering--are you proposing that central registries NOT exist, on the ground that they promote and enable play-to-win rather than play-to-learn? After all, a big purpose of such things is to ensure that competitive fixtures are "fair"--i.e. to filter out ineligible players. If you are opposed to ultra-competitive soccer, particularly at younger ages, a good way to undermine it might be to shut down the association registries, and force the competitive leagues/tourneys to bear the effort and expensive of verifying player eligibility themselves...)

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, December 19, 2016 at 3:04 p.m.

    All I am trying to point out is that USSF registered players are only a minority of the players in this country. So when USSF forbids DA players from playing high school soccer, they are forbidding DA players from playing for unaffiliated teams. Sure there are legitimate complaints about high school soccer, but USSF affiliated tournaments are just as bad if not worse. Anytime a player plays more than one match a week, it degrades development and increases risk of injury. Playing multiple matches over a weekend has no training value.

  11. Kelly Ross, December 17, 2016 at 9:52 p.m.

    Reorganization /alignment 2.0 has begun it seems. A long time coming I'm sure. With FOUR national affiliate organizations doing the same thing four different ways (multiplied by the 50 national state USYS associations), its a wonder, this movement didn't begin sooner.

    The four national affiliates did something, that the US Soccer Federation was unable to do until after the '94 world cup; and that was professionalize its organization and ranks. AYSO, SAY and USYS ran that train. US Club figured it out, for the segment of the population it wants to consume.

    At the beginning and end of the day, it really only comes down to money for any and all. AYSO and SAY have the grassroots best interests in mind, moreso because of their recreational focus. USYS serves multiple layers of player participation. US Club consumes "elite level" preference (although it feeds from recreational participants as well). And then there is the. US Developmental academies ....

    It seems, the inmates ARE running the asylum and US Soccer cannot "takeoever" all of the underlings. This story indicates that WYSA position of the "pay-for-play" has been and continues to be detrimental to the continued growth and development of the sport in the US. But isn't any participation, a "pay-for-play" model which is immediately followed by "results oriented"?

    National coaching schools and standards do little to "educate" the volunteer mom and dad coach at the grassroots level with continued effectiveness. The link between the developmental system and opportunities for advanced development leading to professional and international opportunities are hindered by a number of obstacles: cost, access, geography, time commitment and opportunities to name of few.

    It's just too big a 400 pound gorilla. The country is too big. There are too many deeply invested factions. There's way too much money at stake. Too much protectionism. More problems than there are solutions. It will be most interesting to see how this situation unfolds and which course other USYS state associations take in the coming months.

    What a "flustercluck" ....

  12. R2 Dad replied, December 17, 2016 at 11:10 p.m.

    I think the "country is too big" argument is different from the "too many vested interests (in the status quo)" argument. Whenever the "country is too big" discussion is finally resolved, we will look back on these days and wonder why we didn't re-org sooner. What these various leagues and organizations contribute is overstated. There should be one organization, one standard, so that management can be held accountable then fired when determined to be a fraud. This is like 3 card monte, and we the naive parents never cease to be amazed. Time to blow up the money tree.

  13. Kelly Ross, December 17, 2016 at 9:56 p.m.

    More rambling and babbling if meaningful exchange of ideas is desired ... LOL .

  14. aaron dutch, December 17, 2016 at 9:58 p.m.

    I agree with Kelly, nuke the system its a wack year so why not add soccer to the list. We need to get to a new model...

  15. MA Soccer, December 18, 2016 at 8:26 a.m.

    We need some real leadership at USSF to re-organize. Current management has proven it is not up to the task. My expectations are very low, sadly I expect the US will continue to slowly slide backwards on Intl level and youth participation #s .

  16. Ben Myers replied, December 19, 2016 at 9:45 p.m.

    Simply, I agree. Have said similar ever since the last World Cup when it became ever so evident that the USSF is not committed or organized to develop elite players capable of playing internationally. Kudos to Klinsmann for saying so before is downfall and alienating Garber and Gulati.

  17. cony konstin, December 18, 2016 at 1:54 p.m.

    We need a soccer revolution in the US.. We need new leadership. We need a new vision. We need a 21st century master plan.. USSF needs a complete change. We need one non profit institution that leads all of soccer in the US. US soccer is running amok. The inmates are running the asylum. There is no transparency, accountability or respect for soccer in the US.. it is time for the DOJ and the IRS to investigate all of these soccer groups and begin the cleaning that our kids need to have to protect them and the beautiful game.. Soccer in the US priority is power, greed and money.. it has become an abomination and a reflection of our corrupted politicical two party system. I will leave you with this... "It is better to die standing than to live on your knees". Emiliano Zapata 1910

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". Edmund Burke 1790

    "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent". Edmund Burke 1790

    "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little". Edmund Burke 1790

    "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it". Edmund Burke 1790

  18. frank schoon, December 18, 2016 at 2:12 p.m.

    Not being fully educated with the "goings on" of all the political aspects, the structures ,of the various youth soccer organizations, the bureaucratic controls and what not, all this stuff, to me, is gobble gook. It seems like it is all about POWER and CONTROL. Yes, America has definitely evolved by leaps and bounds, organizationally, structurally and administratively since my involvement in youth soccer beginning in the late 60's. If only the product on the field concomitantly had improved as much, as it has organizationally we would have won the world cup, already.
    We are producing licensed coaches in the thousands, we have soccer academies all over the place, we have everything available for soccer, in addition to parents who are paying through the nose to have their kids trained at the local soccer academies. But the soccer product on the field has not really improved much over the years. Year in , year out ,I see the quality of youth soccer at all levels and you can include high school , college ,the MLS soccer and the national team as well, all have difficulty stringing two passes together, in other words lack of good ball possession.
    I have yet to see a youth after having played soccer for 10 years trained by the academies and licensed coaches,the whole nine yards in other words, be able to dribble ,pass ,kick and receive the ball with either foot, or able to cross a ball with nice curve , bending away from the goalie. The technical abilities of the youth after 10 years are so lacking along with poor ball possession skills.
    A good coach is known in youth soccer as one who wins and gets the trophies. To me, most of those coaches not necessarily are good coaches but are nothing but good recruiters, looking for better talent players in order to improve their team's wins and trophies.
    When have ou ever heard speaking of speaking about a coach who is good in terms of developing players. No, instead he gets his reputation because he just won the state cup.
    Improvement ofstructure and organization does not necessarily produce better players. Johan Cruyff stated the youth should not be trained by licensed coaches tra but by good players who are able to guide the players better than some programmed ,pedantic licensed coach for they do more harm than good.
    In sum we need to concern ourselves more at developing the players and spend less time who controls what.....

  19. Ben Myers replied, December 19, 2016 at 9:46 p.m.

    It IS all about POWER and CONTROL and benjamins (not me).

  20. cony konstin, December 18, 2016 at 2:54 p.m.

    We are devoloping robots not football players. Our pay to play model is an abomination if your goal is to make talented players. But this model is good if your goal is to make nice kids. But before you start to make nice kids or talented players you must first focus on developing Passion. Passion is the most important component. Why? Because now you are not only developing players but also future fans, coaches, refs, administrators, money people, and other positions that are involve in the game. How do you become passionate in anything? You must do it everyday to the point that when you are not doing that it hurts you so bad that you want cry because you are not doing it. That is passion. How do we create this type of environment? By building 600,000 futsal courts so kids can play king of the court, 24/7/365/, for free and with no adult interference. You create this playground/streetball/sandlot environment then you will develop a world of passion and eventually world class talent. Mean while if we continue to sell gimmicks, smoke and mirrors, $400 cleats, coaching DVDs and nice pretty uniforms we will continue to be mediocre. You can't make chicken soup with chicken s$&t. You need a chicken......... It is time that we in the US stop focusing iour football in selling and buying minutia and start a revolution in developing our way the USONIAN way.

  21. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, December 19, 2016 at 11:48 a.m.

    Yes, we know. The answer to everything is 9 trillion futsal courts everywhere you go.

  22. aaron dutch, December 18, 2016 at 3:15 p.m.

    Cony is correct, we also need to blow up the coaching development model, it has to shift to teaching, they need to be playing themselves (even if they didnt grow up playing) they need to understand the game, we need a radical shift to a volunteer based model not more extreme high end clubs with more fees that only the top 1/4 of our social-economic can afford.

  23. Dan Eckert, December 19, 2016 at 7:49 a.m.

    Aaron - as you so implied - this is (and will always be) about money. It if you have control - then you have access to the money.

    However, as a country, we are not going to tax people so we can let them play soccer (equally).. We don't do it for football, or baseball, or for any sport.

    Communities that have recreation, travel, and premiere clubs seem to have found a good balance that enables everyone access to play - maybe not at the level they want to play - but to play none-the-less. I would agree the biggest gap we have is coaching. If we could address the coaching problem - then we'd be cooking with oil!'

    I always thought the coaching problem would solve itself. As younger players became older, some would naturally move into coaching - and for some reason that really isn't happening at the level you would think. I'm shocked by how many UK based coaches we have in the US - and to be honest - some are good - but a lot of them are crap (roughly the same ratio as those born in the US).

    All the politics aside - one governing body - with one set of rules makes sense at the Premiere Level. Give the states control over Travel - and give the communities (or districts or zones or areas or whatever) control over rec. But - we have to address the coaching problem - or no matter how we are organized - we'll still be crap. A reward those players at lower levels to play at higher levels - even if they cannot afford it. 50% of the kids at our private high school are on some form of scholarship - this seems to work for us.

  24. MA Soccer, December 19, 2016 at 8:01 a.m.

    The basic organization of youth soccer in US does not allow for much of the above input to be implemented. Unfortunately it will only get worse. The only chance is strong leadership and a vision from the USSF which is a long shot at best.
    Look how the recent USSF youth changes were developed and then rolled out through the affiliates: small sided, field and goal size and calendar year? At a minimum it was, and is a mess.

  25. Kent James, December 19, 2016 at 10:52 a.m.

    Doesn't the fragmented nature of youth soccer defy strong leadership? It is hard to lead organizations you don't control. If you don't like the pay to play model, only a strong central organization can take it down (by denying teams structured that way what they want, access to the best players and entry into the best tournaments). Money has to come from somewhere, so pay to play will always be with us (to some degree). The question is how much will it cost; I think, the problem with the current system is that there are too many teams pretending to be elite (and charging high fees on that basis), and wasting expensive training on only a few players for too many years. I think the way we can make it work is to have a well structured youth program that is inclusive and cheap (and incorporates lots of unstructured play), have fees generated there that are reasonable but can kick a little bit (from each of many players) up to subsidize the older, more elite teams, so they can be based on merit and not so expensive. The biggest problem with the current system is that if you want to compete at the highest level, you don't really have an option other than paying to play for one of the high fee elite clubs.

    I'm also confused by what Washington State actually did; I thought US Youth Soccer was the youth arm of USSF? The USSF is not listed as one of the four organizations (US Club, AYSO, and SAY being the other 3) that deals with youth soccer, so how will the USSF register youth soccer players?

  26. Bob Ashpole replied, December 19, 2016 at 3:12 p.m.

    This is my understanding. WYSA was a member of USYSA, a national member of USSF. It runs USSF-afiliated youth soccer in the state of Washington. WYSA wanted to bypass USYSA, so they asked to register as a member of USSF instead. For practical purposes, although they said otherwise, they want to be made a national youth member of USSF responsible for the state of Washington.

  27. Ric Fonseca, December 19, 2016 at 1:24 p.m.

    If this is the same Terry fisher listed above that was at one time, in another century not too far removed with UCLA Soccer and the Los Angeles Aztecs of yore, and one of the same I worked with way back when, then fol;ks I'd say he has a keen idea. Also, I repeatedly see the alphabet letters of USYSA and AYSO, etc., but how many of you even remember that ayso went to far as to threaten and conducted a lawsuit back in the 80's and 90's and reverted to the US OLympic Committee rules and regs to force US Soccer to allow it to apply for and be granted "affiliate: membership, which in effect challenged USYSA. Now I do not recall the exact legalese, but then ayso honcho, said they's proceed with the suit, ayso has a lot of dinero (ever wonder how much they charge for a child to play?) and thus I believe it was Burton Haymes (sp???) that because of his lobbying efforts and even talking to some politicians that US Soccer eventually capitulated and made ayso a full US Soccer member with like "...rights and priviliges pertaining thereto..." USYSA then (still?) had/has the numbers while ayso did not. So it was a matter of money talked and some people talked. Heck, I'd rather we'd constructed the thousands of futsal courts that CK has been calling for for some time. IMHO, the "melding/allowing" ayso get the same rights and priviliges as USYSA was more damaging for the developmental processes of our very vast youth sphere of influence.

  28. Ric Fonseca, December 19, 2016 at 1:33 p.m.

    Forgot one point related to ayso: It's policy has always been that everyone plays no matter the skill level; back in the days, every year the draft was conducted and teams picked by non-soccer folks, but well meaning volunteers, and coaching per se was non-existent, and if a parent wanted his child to play, that parent was "drafted" to coach or officiate. There is also a lot of darkness related to this organization, that given the time I will not list, but the manner in which my own children were treated by the so-called commissioners, completely soured me to the organization and actually drove me away to look for a better and fairer competitive model of youth soccer. As for USYSA, I'd only heard about it then via the local state association and local competitive leagues, until such time as I became part of the competitive "machinery" to include direct participation with the Cal South state association for almost fifteen years.

  29. Bob Ashpole replied, December 19, 2016 at 3:26 p.m.

    In the 90's I had experience with both AYSO and USYSA clubs at the U-Little level due to a move. I saw no difference at all. Labels changed but the parents controlled the clubs in the same manner. Quality of the experience was entirely dependent on the quality of the coach. Coaching quality had nothing to do with coaching experience or licensing. It had everything to do with the coach's teaching ability and athletic experience of lack of them.

  30. Bob Ashpole replied, December 19, 2016 at 3:38 p.m.

    Ric I only know you from your posts here, but I am confident that you would not select a player that you did not intend to play, despite your implication that you don't favor the "everyone plays" policy. I suspect the issue was rather an "equal playing time" policy with is a common feature of recreational sports regardless of affiliation. I only point this out so others won't take what you said out of context.

  31. Karen Smejkal, December 19, 2016 at 2:41 p.m.

    This article does not mention the soccer politics happening in Washington state the last 10 years or so. About 40-45% of the club teams in WA have left WYS (and USYS) and play under US Club and the US Club leagues operating in the state. In Eastern WA, the percentage is more like 70%. The top teams (which are in the big clubs) are in a closed league run by WYS. WYS is organized into regional associations which control who can join WYS---and have to be a member of WYS to play in WYS leagues and play in the WYS state cups. The association controlling Seattle (the largest city with hundreds of select teams), only one club is allowed to have select soccer teams: Seattle United. The other clubs are forbidden. So of course, they joined US Club and play under US Club. On the eastside of Seattle, home of two big clubs Crossfire and Eastside, other clubs are allowed to have teams but they are forbidden to have 'premier teams': year-round teams that play in the highest divisions, highest state cups, and act in other ways like 'premier teams' with paid coaches and such. The result being that the club with some top girls and boys left WYS and now plays solely US Club. Within WA, the news of USYS cutting off WYS from leagues and programs is met derision and amusement by many in the state since this is exactly what WYS has been to WA soccer clubs.

  32. Bob Ashpole, December 19, 2016 at 3:19 p.m.

    Never underestimate the ability of an adult to remove the joy of playing from youth sports.

  33. Ric Fonseca replied, December 20, 2016 at 3:31 p.m.

    Bob, it isn't what you might think that I was not of the "everyone plays" philosophy of recreational sports, rather, for reasons that I will not belabor the point, my souring on this organization was based not so much concerning the policy, but it was directly related to my nationality vs the nationality of the then regional commissioner. What was more than an insult to not just me, but to my daughter was that even when the commissioner's wife was in charge of the very early beginners, and needed players, we were told there was no room for my five year old; or the time in another region, we were told that they had too many players and thus were to break up her team. Or another time during some playoffs - or whatever it was, I still boil as to what happened - by yet another commissioner who called out one of the players I was coaching in a "select" team, pulled him off just prior to kick off and grilled him about his age, where he went to school, what grade, etc. Imagine, this did not happen to ANY other player, to the point that the boys parents almost pulled their son off the team right then and there, although several of other parents interceded and convinced that lady commissioner that the boy had been properly vetted the whole season and to single him out was more damaging to not just one player, one team, but to the whole ayso concept. Lastly, my daughter went on to play club, made the varsity as a freshman; while the other player went on to play in the local Mexican leagues and flourished in high school and last I heard went on to play college ball in Northern Calif. And btw, this all took place in the mid-80s and into the early '90s not too far north of the area where ayso was "born."

  34. Bob Ashpole replied, December 20, 2016 at 5:16 p.m.

    I regret your experience. There is nothing more I can say. Thank for the explanation.

  35. Wesley Hunt, December 20, 2016 at 1:49 p.m.

    Agree with Cony and Aarron. US soccer oraganizastions do very little to help with improving the skill of our players. Cony hit the nail on the head witht the passion part. I did not grow up playing soccer or futsal. It was basketball. There were baskeball courts right around the lake from my house. Could go there after school anytime and get in a pick up game. Winning team stays on....”king of the court”. The best players were there all the time. If you were good enough the older better players might pick you for their games. If not you played with the younger kids. When you were tired you could quit. There was no parental prescense and no pressure. Aside from winning and keeping your team on the court it was often about the style and the moves. An easy lay up might be safe but if you wanted bragging rights you had to put something on it. One on one match ups could often be seen as duels to see who could beat who. We watched the older players on the court and during the high school games and the professional players on tv and mimiced what they did. Hours of free playing time and study to coached time at least 100-1 probably more for the best. If our kids were playing like this either futsal or small sided games on grass we would be winning world cups.

  36. Wesley Hunt, December 20, 2016 at 1:49 p.m.

    I am not saying that good teaching can not further a childs ability. However, unless you have a master teacher working with a group of young kids (6-12) in an enviroment that is all about soccer 5-6 days a week coupled with a family and community that supports that you are not going to get a majical level of skill on the teenage player. At twice a week for a couple of hours there is just not enough intense time on the ball during those early learning years. As Cony often says coaching is overrated.

  37. Wesley Hunt, December 20, 2016 at 1:51 p.m.

    As for the a gazillion futsal courts I agree except with one caveat. Don’t waste too much money on building them in the wealthier suburbs. Those kids no longer free play at anything outside. I got our city to turn a tennis court into a futsal court in exchange for running a free futsal scrimmage program during the summer. The program is well attended but the rest of the time the courts are only used by a few of the kids I have trained in my league. In the poor part of our small city their is free play but it is almost exclusively baskeball. Those kids I can get to play futsal and they like it, but it is not part of their culture yet so when I leave they go back to basketball.

  38. Wesley Hunt, December 20, 2016 at 1:53 p.m.

    It is amazing to me how many kids play soccer at ther youth level in our part of the country. It also amazes me how few of them after 6-7 years of playing have not even the simpliest of skills. I run a small futsal league and coach the sport as well. Futsal is good for skill because of the tight spaces and ball etc. Yet I will get high school age kids that cannot do much more than chop the ball one way or another. What is up with that? I do a few tip taps everyday and play with my players and some old guys like myself yet I look like a Messi compared to some of them. It shouldn’t be that way, I did not grow up in the sport. The sport is growing not because of these organizations but in spite of them. My league is growing not because I am a good salesman but because the kids, especially the young ones, love playing futsal. They tell their friends about it and next thing you know the volunteer parent is flooded with more kid who want to play and he comes back the next year with two teams. It is like we are selling cocaine to kids. The sport is that addictive. So is soccer. Although I have no complaints so far the main thing the organization that I am affilated with does for me is supply the insurance for the league and our referees. Other than that I could probably run just fine independetly. I don’t trust large organizations because quite often the grass roots participants can be ignored or taken for granted. They have little imput into what they are actually buying. For that reason I am not sure one organization would be better than the plethora we have now. Change must happen from the bottom up. It must fit what works for our country. It needs to evolve like Jazz music did in this country a hundred years ago. If an organization could assit in that process then I would support it.

  39. Wooden Ships replied, December 20, 2016 at 3:01 p.m.

    Excellent observations Wesley, et al. Passion, free play, culture are lacking. I'm going back old school, but I promise you that we had better touches on the ball back in the 60's and 70's St. Louis. The communities we lived in had the culture, the older players and then us had the passion and we played wherever we found space. Coaches were mostly volunteers, many had top notch playing backgrounds and there wasn't yelling from them or parents. We have over thought and coached this game.

  40. frank schoon, December 20, 2016 at 4:37 p.m.

    Having grown up in Europe during the "street soccer era" meaning before the car revolution hit Holland, the street were basically empty in Amsterdam. Dutch kids of the Johan Cruyff generation learned their game basically on CONCRETE, ASPHALT, or on COBBLE STONES. Only in small parks was grass but kids played for the greater on concrete. And on weekends we would take our bikes to go a big park and play with real cleats and letter ball. The more serious kids,like myself played about 30 to 40 hours a week soccer, for that is basically what all kids played. The kids of the 40's 50's , 60's generation and even of the 70's had so much skill or rather "TOUCH' on the ball then todays youth at all levels up to the pros. We played on CONCRETE with all kinds of soccer balls, usually made of rubber of all sizes ranging from tennis ball ( which was about 50% of my game) , plastic balls like a size of 6 or 7, as it was round and rolled. We didn't wear sneakers but ordinary shoes one would go to church with, simple street shoes. The shoe repair man obviously had lots of work.
    Kids of all ages played together, thereby you learn and see moves from older kids. Everything you learned and tried was always done under pressure with a competitor on you ,thus you learned under conditions to make you survive against older ,better and faster players. Kids, in other words, had their ball touch and skills pretty well down before going out to become a remember of a club which in my case was Ajax. The kids who played for Ajax were also the more serious kids. I carried two tennis at all times with me for pick up games. The reason I carried was that in 50's there were no leash laws for dogs. Dogs in those have broken up quite a few
    games by stealing the ball. The city kids were always better than those who lived outside. The reason being is that city kids who play on concrete were more skillful because they applied techniques , tricks to beat their opponent, for obviously you couldn't apply speed in beating an opponent. In all those I never saw kid because he fell on never fell on concrete, never saw one... Johan Cruyff stated playing on concrete makes you think more and what you plan to do ahead of time while taking into account not to fall. Kids at an early age began to think game of what to do ahead of time due to the conditions they played on. As a result kids had much more body balance because having played on concrete. Today kids don't have body balance especially those who learned to play on grass . They fall all the time and they don't think the game the way kids of my generation played. What was good about learning to play in the city was also the WALLS.
    Kids all the time was kicking a ball against walls which today's kids lack. I don't even see a tennis on soccer complexes. In other words kids today lack good touch on the ball for rarely work out passing ball against wall or for the matter kids passing a ball back and forth to each other.

  41. frank schoon, December 20, 2016 at 5:06 p.m.

    Soccer complexes should have tennis walls and a long plastic pipe on the ground for players to walk on and learn body balance, like I did as a kid balancing myself on railings of bridges crossing the canals in the city of Amsterdam. The kids of my generation had so much better body balance.
    Kids in the city learned at an early age to apply a give and go with themselves and a wall. We beat an opponent with a give and go by either using the curb or the wall of a building. Dennis Bergkamp in his book talked about employing the tires of parked cars for a give and go in the streets of Amsterdam. Kids of the street soccer generation were 'street smart" and quickly thought of applying anything to beat an opponent.
    Today, I make sure that my team practices 45min. on concrete and 45 min. on grass. They need to have that balance. Concrete forces them to apply skills and thinking and on grass they can blend their speed with their skills. Actually good soccer players don't need speed to beat an opponent.

  42. frank schoon, December 20, 2016 at 5:17 p.m.

    I think the most important aspect for kids to the develop to play with mixed ages. Coaches should always invite older kids to practice with their teams. I had a 13year old play with my men's team and of course a few years later he became one of top players in high school. No licensed coach or youth organization or soccer academy can develop a player like the way you can develop a kid by having him or her play with older, faster and better players, which is really what street soccer did for kids, playing with mix ages...

  43. Bob Ashpole, December 20, 2016 at 5:37 p.m.

    Good comments Frank. Adults supply inspiration and opportunity. Players supply the motivation and sweat. If either is missing development suffers. Essentially to a large extent both are missing today. Out of many millions of players, we identify and train a few teens who for want of a better adjective are accidental elite players rather than developed by youth soccer. To significantly improve the level of play in the US, we have to improve the opportunity qualitatively and quantitatively for pre-teens. We have parking lots and streets still today, however, the majority of parents do not allow their kids to play unorganized sports and do not personally promote their kid's physical development during early childhood. To a substantial degree the player population is limited to children of athletes due to family values and lifestyles.

  44. frank schoon, December 20, 2016 at 6:10 p.m.

    That is true Bob. As far as concrete goes, Basketball courts will do as well. What I don't see youth soccer organizations support is to assign certain fields, which in most cases are astro-turf fields, to certain age groups to play pickup games on during the summer. For example around 6 to 7:30 pm in the evening there will be a volunteering adult to sit at field 2, for example, to watch kids between 11-14 and at field 3, kids between 14-18 to play. To play pick up games during the summer
    evenings will do more for their skill development and play then during soccer season itself.

  45. Wesley Hunt, December 21, 2016 at 10:03 a.m.

    Actually that is another thing I have noticed. How many kids are really uncoordinated and how many are overweight. That may not be an issue of playing on grass vs concrete so much as just a playing on a variety of surfaces and the variety of things that can happen for a kid during unsupervised free play. I am not talking just sports but things like climbing trees, swimming playing chase its up and down slides or on bikes riding through the alleyways. Games of war with rotten fruit or dirt clods as ammo. Climbing on roofs downtown or sneaking in into the high school friday night football game by climbing the stadium understructure during the game and popping up at the top seats and running when they tried to catch us for our trespass. We were kids who were everywhere and would try anything even from the earliest ages. Mostly the mothers wanted us out of the house so they could get work done. There was very little screen time so we had to make our own entertainment. That meant hanging with friends and figuring it out. A lot of times it was basketball but it could just as easily be another sport or some other activity In my opinion the growing human body and mind thrives on that kind of physical creative play. Playing sports was just part of it. Too much sitting, too much screen time, too much over protection and organized activity is killing the minds and bodies of the majority of our youth. The ones that are athletic and healthy are the exception not the rule and that is not good in the bigger picture of things.

  46. Wesley Hunt, December 21, 2016 at 10:21 a.m.

    Franck what you described is exactly what we do during the summer on our Tennis/Futsal courts. Every Tuesday and Thursday 5-6 hour 5-8 year olds. 6-7 hour 8-13 year olds, 7-8 13 and up. Coaches or parent volunteer are there more to just organize. NO COACHING allowed parents or coaches. Sign a waiver and pay $5 to the city to pay for the nets and balls we supply and that gives you two months of playing time. Once the kids know each other they pick their own teams. Winning team stays on. It is not completly kid run but getting close to it which was my goal. The nets are there for the summer but are not used much outside of our program. Some of my older kids who have played futsal with us since very young will text each other and go play on there own. Other than that nothing. My observation is there is not much free play going on outside of any sort except in the poorest neighborhoods and even there not as much as it used to be. This is a cultural shift and is not something an organization can correct easily.

  47. frank schoon replied, December 21, 2016 at 12:50 p.m.

    You are so has to be a cultural shift not an organizational one to improve the kids. To bring that cultural shift around is create , nurture the habit of playing pick up games. I remember years ago we began to play every evening pick up games in the summer at the high school. It just needs a beginning and if kids are having fun they'll come out every night to play. It becomes a social event.

  48. frank schoon, December 21, 2016 at 12:43 p.m.

    Great.. but you don't need nets. We as kids in Holland just used two jackets on the ground. Or instead of a goal use a cone of any size, or just a bag. The goals are not important but the playing. As I look back at how players developed in the "Street Soccer Era" which is according to Johan Cruyff the best training ground ever.
    Street soccer developed the player individually.
    Some kids in holland in my days use a stand up brick for a goal which you had to hit. Everything was game.
    As a city kid we had everywhere wall we can kick a ball against or used it to head the ball against and so often we found ourselves kicking long balls back and forth in the streets. Our kicking and passing were automatically developed in a fun way and no kid thought of it as practicing one's skills. Allow the kids to use bouncy type balls or a small ball and employ the standard soccer ball only half the time. The reason for using various balls is to teach the kids to employ different touch or weight on the ball, which again is a subtle process of thinking and feeling with the ball.
    If they play on grass, don't let them wear soccer shoes but indoor flats,for it forces them to think about their movements with the ball in case they slip and fall (offensively and defensively), just like I did as a kid playing on concrete. I find it so desponding that I see kids continually falling on the turf or ground because they just don't think or anticipate about what they are doing or what could happen. The thinking aspect about what could possibly happen later turns into tactical thinking as they get older.

  49. Wesley Hunt, December 22, 2016 at 9:35 a.m.

    Frank, you and I are on the same wave length. The kids I trained starting with AYSO switching to travel and playing lots of futsal are just exactly as you say. If the group of them are together they will play with anything. I have seen them play pick up using posts as goals. Using everthing from beach balls to tennis balls. I have even seen them using half filled plastic water bottles and then try to do fancy moves on them just for fun. They get it but that is because I started them like I learned playing every possible creative way you could think of. We they were six-10 we would even games that involved park benchs and slides. We would play on hillsides and uneven surfaces. Now they are some of the most skilled players in the area but quite often that creativity they have is not much appreciated by the local High School coaches who are old school kick the ball down the field to the fast kid to score. There is almost nothing in the way of DA or pay for play clubs in this area like in the cities. Most of them are not even thinking of college soccer though I have seen enough of it to know they are more than skilled and athletic enough.

  50. frank schoon replied, December 22, 2016 at 10:38 a.m.

    Wesley, all the kids that I train personally or the teams that I train and have coached all know the "Greats" of soccer" and I talk about what they did and the moves they were known for and I demonstrate them. We are lucky to have Youtube. Stanley Matthews when I grew up was known as the "magician", then you had Garrincha, Pele, Di Stefano( this is the player Johan Cruyff copied for his style), Dzajic of yugoslavia, Ginola, Keizer, Beckenbauer, Jimmy Johnstone of Celtic fame of the 60's( he has a video out called "Jinky", and in this video he talked about how learned body balance by walking on top of a fence. There were so many more...
    And for fun look up Utube, "Jan mulder twee ballen". He juggles two balls at the same time. He played with Johan Cruyff and the Dutch National team in the glory years.
    Talking to the kids about the old stars that were much better than today's players ,technically and tactically made the kids excited. In other words what the kids today alsomiss is the history that made soccer so exciting. One of my players from long ago just called me and has read the latest book by Johan Cruyff's in which Cruyff put Keizer a former teammate as one the top 11 ever...He stated he remembered how I use to talk about Keizer years ago. It is not only the technical development but the history of some the greats and how they played makes the kid which further excites them and wants to emulate those greats. The national coaching school should teach a course on the Greats and how they influenced the game. Soccer is more than X's and O's. I always recommend coaches to never by soccer books but autobiographies of the "Greats" for you learn more about the game, especially the insights of the game. For example Stanley Matthews one of the greatest wingers increased his quickness by sprinting in sand on the beach , 3 meters 200 times every other day. Again that is something soccer complexes should have, a little sand box .

  51. Wesley Hunt, December 22, 2016 at 10:04 a.m.

    I and my partner coach them now only for the winter futsal season. Now they do quite well when we go to the regional tournaments. The first year we went however the boys and couple of girls got beat 20-0 our first game. But we kept at it through the past 5 years. Last year my older group won the Atlantic regional. One of the boys was scouted by an MLS scout but the distance and expense his family would have to do to make that possible is too much. When outdoor season rolls around it is back to playing for the High School coaches. Not much improvement, competition, or recognition for them. We are not yet a soccer culture that appreciates high skill. Some people still think that they were just born with that talent but that is not true. They played/worked for it. They did it because they love the game. All I did was set it up so that it could happen for them. Unfortunatly my kind of coaching is the exception and most parents are not going to put in the time to make soccer and the skills for it the coolest thing ever for thier young kids even if they have a good coach/teacher. With out that all the paid coaching in the world will not produce much more than a robot. With out passion nothing exceptional happens. Passion/obsession can be cultivated but it takes a different mind set and it takes more than just the coach. It takes an enviroment that is all about the game and for the most part it is not there yet in this country. As I said earlier if an organization wishes to address this problem directly then I am all for it. Until then I don't trust any of them to do much more than gaurd their own financial self interests.

  52. frank schoon, December 22, 2016 at 10:50 a.m.

    You are doing the right thing. I also use tennis courts with nets and make the kids pass back and forth over the net, employing the outside of the foot as well as the inside. Another thing I do is to hang a hoola hoop on any
    fence and let them aim for it, stationery and also on the dribble. I used the fence on baseball diamonds or any fence. On the tennis courts you can see right away how much touch the kids have in passing. As far as the high school coaches who look for big and fast players for midfielders let us say, well Barcelona proved to the world you don't need race horses or muscle at midfield , instead they use small midfielders like Iniesta, Xavi, Rakatic, Busquets: or look even at the Italian player Pirlo. None of these players are big and fast but are very skilled and know how to move the ball quickly. In other words nothing is faster than the ball.

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