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News - Details

Changes Coming to Youth Soccer


TO: Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Members and Affiliates
CC: Board of Directors
FROM: Chris Branscome, Chief Executive Officer
DATE: August 25, 2015
RE: Changes coming to Youth Soccer

Over the past year, US Soccer has been working on an initiative to  improve player development in our country.  The proposal, first made public in December 2014, was presented to, and approved by the US Soccer Board of Directors in July.  The pillars of the player development initiatives are mandating standardized small sided games for U12 and below and to align team rosters with the calendar year as opposed to our current seasonal year format.

US Youth Soccer, of which our state association is a member, also voted to support US Soccer’s changes through its Board of Directors.

Starting in the 2017-18 season, US Soccer will transition fully from the current seasonal year/school-year age breakdown to the calendar-year system used by all members of FIFA (The US and Canada are the only exceptions).  In addition, to emphasize the benefits of small-sided play, US Soccer will move to 9v9 for U12 play, 7v7  for U10,  and 4v4 for U8 and below. This initiative also includes alterations to field and goal sizes and has made modifications to the rules considered more appropriate for development.  Both changes will bring the United States in line with international standards as well as align with our national youth team programs.

Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer has been aware of the proposed changes as they were being developed.  A number of the changes were already being addressed through the coaching schools in terms of philosophy and methodology.   We were officially presented with the proposal after the US Soccer July board meeting.

US Soccer, and US Youth Soccer, are asking that all member associations adopt and implement these initiatives as best practice for 2016-17, but it is mandated for full compliance by 2017-18.  It is our intention in Eastern Pennsylvania to follow this request and use 2016-17 as a transition year.  For an historical reference, this is essentially the first time that US Soccer has made a mandate such as this and provided a specific direction to the development of youth soccer in America.

At this point, there are still questions to be answered to properly transition us by the start of the 2016-17 season.  Implementation plans have not yet been completed nationally.  Basic questions such as roster sizes, National Championship Series rules (and by extension, state cup and league rules), allowance for local variances, maximum/minimum field sizes and so forth will be discussed in the coming months.

Eastern Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of small sided games for over 15 years.  The concept and philosophy is well ingrained throughout our association and the member organizations, but, patience will be necessary as the transition takes place.  We will need to further educate our clubs and their families.  Our board and technical staff support the ideals and goals of this initiative and will make ourselves available to the membership in the months to come. 

To further learn about US Soccer’s program, please click on this link: