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US Soccer Changes

Player Development Initiatives

Up until now, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has given “recommendations” to state organizations throughout the country on how to develop players and the format for which soccer should be played over the various age groups. As a result, each state association was able to choose which format they felt was appropriate for their own membership leagues. For example, two of our neighboring states Michigan and Wisconsin, play 6v6 at U8-U10, and 8v8 at U11-U12, whereas Illinois has been playing 7v7 and 9v9 for these age groups.

US Soccer has now made it mandatory for the whole country to follow these new guidelines, which should result in the whole landscape of youth soccer following the same format when it comes to long term development.

US “Youth” Soccer along with other youth soccer sanctioning bodies will be implementing the U.S. Soccer’s “birth-year” registration mandates on Aug 1, 2017. In short, all soccer clubs in the US will be switching to BIRTH YEAR rather than 'school year' to determine what age group a player will be eligible for. Our State (IYSA) and leagues (IWSL & YSSL) have made the decision to implement these new changes one year in advance of the mandates, as a form of best practice.

In the past, age groups were dependent on the year and month a player was born. In the new system, all players born in the same "full" calendar year will be placed together.

The decision on how best to transition into the new mandates is being taken by each individual organization. After much research, our club has decided to keep ALL current age groups together for one more season. This will allow us to better prepare all our players over the course of the full 9-month season, by using "calendar year" pool training sessions.


Small Sided Standards

Other major changes include;

  1. U8 going to 4v4

(see diagram below)

  1. Fields, goals, and game times are all being reduced (see table below).




1. What steps has FCLC taken to address these changes?

Our Technical Directors have attended multiple state and league meetings since the announcement was made in August 2015, and have also been speaking with other clubs on a local, regional and national level to find the best solution to implement these changes across our program.

FCLC also held a parent meeting this winter to update our members on the changes in a face-to-face setting. (This presentation can be found on our club website)


2. What position is FCLC taking in response to these new changes for the 2016/17 season?

As these new mandates do not “officially” come in until the 2017/18 season and with so many unanswered questions from state and league organizations, FCLC has decided to keep ALL our current age groups together for the coming 2016/17 season.

We feel that this will provide us approx. 18 months (from the initial announcement), to better prepare our; players, teams and coaching staff to transition into these changes more effectively.

Consequently this means, that each team has to play at the age of the oldest players on their team. An example of this is: a U12 team, will play U14 next season. (This may sound a little intimidating, but in reality, our current U12 teams will have U14 players on them (based on the new mandates).


3. Will my child have a team to play on next year?

One of the reasons we made the decision to keep our teams together, is that all players and families have a stronger understanding of where they are for next year if they stay with their current age group.

During tryouts, all “existing” players will be asked to tryout with the age group they currently play with.

If an existing player would like to tryout with an age group based on their new age eligibility (if different from their current age group), we would ask that you speak with your age group technical director prior to tryouts.

I.e. If a U9 player would be a U10 in the new classification and would like to play there as opposed to moving up to U11 with their current age group. (Please note, the change of moving everyone up will only be for the 2016/17 season)


4. My child skips from U10 to U12, will they miss out on a year of youth soccer?

Those players who will skip an age group based on their year of birth will NOT miss a whole year of playing as they will get that year back playing U19, which the league has now added. (High School ages will be classified as U16 to U19, as opposed to U15 to U18)


5. What happens at the U15 age group for players who are in 8th grade?

As briefly stated above, the U15 age group will now actually become a year round (8th grade) group. (What U14 used to be).

The YSSL and IWSL are creating leagues in the fall (Boys) and spring (Girls) so players in 8th grade can still play travel soccer. (These leagues may be 11v11 or 9v9 depending on other clubs numbers). The league structure may be a more OPEN DIVISION format, which means clubs will schedule their own games and it’s not an actual league. (This is subject to change).


6. How will players be selected at tryouts?

Tryouts will take place on May 9th and 15th for U16 to U19 Girls and May 23rd to 26th for players going into the U8-U19 Boys & U8 to U15 Girls (see schedule posted below).

Please note: All existing FCLC players are constantly being evaluated throughout the year in practices and games. Our Technical Directors work closely with our coaching staff to discuss EACH player’s level of development on a bi-weekly, seasonal and annual basis. This gives us a more accurate overview of a player’s development over an extended period of time, as opposed to a one week tryout.

Performance levels, development stage, commitment, and attitude throughout the full year are just as, if not more important than the tryout itself.


7. Who will be my child's coach? How do coaches get assigned?

Coach assignments are based on many different factors such as; the level of the coach to the level of the team/players, the experience and qualification of the coach, personality match-ups to certain age groups, previous years assignment, coach availability, and simply what is a good fit for the development of both the players and the coach, to improve and raise their own levels.

Coaching assignments will be made after all teams have been formed and registered. This will give us the most accurate understanding of the exact makeup of teams.

We typically use the off-season to source and  interview new staff coaches who can raise the development of our clubs and players. We may hold off on confirming any staff until we have all staff confirmed for the new season, and we can confirm the right fit for those teams and players.

(As a large portion of our staff are existing, or will have worked with the majority of our players through team training sessions, clinics and camps, a familiar face will coach most players).


8. What can parents do to help with their child's transition?

Players will look to parents, coaches, and teachers for answers, so we ask that parents stay positive through these changes whether or not they agree with them.

The changes that are occurring are coming down from the Governing Body of our sport in this country (US Soccer), and are impacting each and every soccer organization is some capacity.


We ask that you as a parent accept the reality of these changes and help your child understand this is part of the landscape that US Soccer is attempting to formulate nationwide and will only make them stronger.


All players should continue to have fun and develop their soccer abilities, and also develop as a person learning about teamwork, responsibility, commitment and hard work. We ask you to help them work through these new transitions with their head held high ready for the next challenge.


9. What will FCLC be doing in the 2016/17 season, to better prepare players for the change in the restructuring in the 2017/18 season?

During each outdoor season, we shall be hosting Player “pool” training sessions.

These sessions will give each player the opportunity to play with other players who are in the same age classification in the new mandates.


Our primary goals in choosing to take the 2016/17 season to transition into these new initiatives, are to provide players an avenue and time to create new friendships, and for our Technical Directors and training staff to review the ability levels of each player and the overall group of players in the new age eligibility system over an extended period of time.


**Should parents wish to discuss the playing age of their child for next year, i.e. play in the new classification as opposed to staying with their current age group, we encourage them to speak to their age group Technical Director ASAP.


Best Wishes,

FC Lake County Technical Directors


For the 7v7 game, the field will include build out lines to promote individual skills and facilitate game flow.

  • The build out line is used to promote playing the ball out of the back in an unpressured setting.
  • When the goalkeeper has the ball, either during play or from a goal kick, the opposing team must move behind the build out line.
  • Once the opposing team is behind the build out line, the goalkeeper can pass, throw or roll the ball to a teammate.
  • Punting the ball is not allowed as this would defeat the purpose of the build out line and reduces the opportunity to play out of the back in an unpressured setting.
  • After the ball is put into play, the opposing team can then cross the build out line and play can resume as normal.

U.S. Soccer Player Development Initiatives

Tab Ramos - US Soccer Youth Technical Director

Please watch the video shown below to better understand the U.S. Soccer Player Development Initiatives.