• Should Refs Adjust Their Style to Fit the Players?
    Most youth soccer referees quit within the first couple of years of officiating with verbal abuse by kids' parents being the No. 1 reason for quitting. But if they can get through those critical first two or three years, refs will develop a reputation and style, both of which will evolve over the years.
  • MLS should mandate minutes for homegrown players
    In 2007, Major League Soccer created the Youth Development Initiative, requiring its clubs to field youth teams.
  • Strides made; improvement still needed (Steve Swanson Q&A, Part 2)
    In September, Steve Swanson coached the USA to the 2012 U-20 Women's World Cup title. A women's college coach since 1990, including the last 13 seasons at University of Virginia, Swanson has also coached in the U.S. national team women's program at the U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels since 2000. Swanson spoke to us about his U-20 team's victory and the state of women's and girls soccer in the USA.
  • College recruiting starts too young (Steve Swanson Q&A, Part 1)
    Steve Swanson, who guided the USA to the 2012 U-20 Women's World Cup title in September, has coached women's college ball since 1990. After stints at Dartmouth and Stanford, he has coached the University of Virginia since 2000. He spoke with us about the perils of a recruiting system that has girls commit to colleges when they're still sophomores or 9th-graders.
  • Should Championship Games Be Officiated Differently?
    Soccer America columnist Paul Gardner has lamented that championship games are generally not as good as the matches that proceeded it as the teams often are more concerned with not making a mistake defensively than going for the goal. Although teams might play title games more conservatively, should refs officiate a championship game any differently than other games?
  • A plan to spur pick-up play
    Nearly all discussions in the soccer coaching community of the United States concerning how to improve youth soccer arrive at the conclusion that youth players do not spend nearly enough time pursuing soccer on their own and/or in a street soccer or pick-up soccer environment.
  • Coaching girls as Title IX turns 40
    I stand on the sidelines watching my soccer team. I can hear my girls breathing hard as they sprint past, see their fierce faces. One of them collides with a player from the other team, fights to hang on to the ball, then takes off down the field.