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U.S. Club Soccer: What's the deal?

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by Beau Dure, Jan 21, 2013.

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  1. Beau Dure

    Beau Dure Member+

    Joined:
    May 31, 2000
    Location:
    Vienna, VA
    I'm sure this has been beaten to death in some thread I haven't seen, but can anyone briefly explain what U.S. Club Soccer is trying to do and where it fits into the grand scheme of things?

    Sure, I understand the ECNL, but what about all these regional "Premier Leagues"? Is it really such a good idea for the Suburban Carolina U16 Eaglebones to travel and play Wheresville Alabama FC U16 United in a "league" when we already have so many other leagues that do that AND fit more neatly into the soccer pyramid, such as it is?

    Is this basically a matter of egos, or is U.S. Club Soccer really trying (and even succeeding at) something different than whatever the Developmental Academy, Super-Y League and the USYSA's various leagues are doing? How do the Premier Leagues compare with the Super-Y and the USYSA's leagues?
     


  2. rhrh

    rhrh Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Club:
    AC Milan
    In my state, there are hundreds of teams in each gender/age bracket. There is EDP which has about 30 top teams per bracket, across three states. There are also the regional leagues similar to those you list, but most have only 3 or 4 teams in a bracket for the same three states. Super Y is VERY inconsistent here in the Northeast, since all the DA programs left (boys' side). There are extremely poor teams included, and I have seen teams who cannot crack the top ten in my state sweep in Super Y (16 games).

    I think freedom of choice is better than a monopoly. NJ is a huge soccer state, but there is only one ECNL club. For comparison, there are four DA programs for boys.

    What I see happening is year-to-year some leagues get "prize teams" to join up, and then maybe the next year the team leaves. Certain policies such as number of games per weekend, amount of travel, and fines for missing games have driven teams away. In our area, the boys side has DA, then EDP, then all the rest. EDP has joined NPL, so there is some consolidation. Every top team must have a state pass and a US Club pass, there is really no way to do tournaments without both.

    As for states with fewer soccer teams, if there is interest to travel for soccer, why not? We always make our away soccer games into a mini-vacation, I don't have a problem with it as parents can always say "enough!" and put their child on a local team.
     
  3. Beau Dure

    Beau Dure Member+

    Joined:
    May 31, 2000
    Location:
    Vienna, VA
    But aren't parents pretty much told there's no way their kids are going to advance in soccer unless they play in the Gargantoport College Showcase weekend of the Super Duper Developmental Academy League?
     
  4. rhrh

    rhrh Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Club:
    AC Milan
    It's like the subs for a DA or ECNL program - the parents drive, the kids practice, and all they do is pay for the starters to get opportunities. It's probably much more worthwhile to get your kid seen on your own than depend on his or her coach to put them in as a "super sub". For 99% of these "top teams", only the top few players are really recruited, the rest pay their way.

    And you probably have noticed that youth soccer in the US is a lucrative business. Never was that more apparent to me when I (and many others) saw the head of my son's previous club call two 14 year olds over, and proceed to yell at them for their parents owing $200 each out of $2,000. One he ended up taking off the roster because of owing money. This was about 1 month into a 4-month season that he wanted full payment.
     


  5. cdskou

    cdskou Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Club:
    Olympiakos Piraeus
    Pretty sad state of affairs.
     
  6. rhrh

    rhrh Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Club:
    AC Milan
    Oh, and I just heard my son's previous "club" (=training company) is now affiliated with a local poorly performing DA. They are offering "combined" teams which are not in the DA system, but just working off of the DA's (or more importantly, the former national team player who is head of the DA's) name. Very sad, talk about caveat emptor.
     
  7. Softtop67

    Softtop67 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2012
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    I am from NJ as well and I cannot believe how poorly run and how poor the training is at the "club" you mention, especially for the under 10 kids. Someone is spending too much time trying to build his name as a coach, US U20's, and is letting his namesake club go to crap. Its become a place for local rec players to play in the winter and far from an elite training program
     
    Bookmesir repped this.
  8. philly villain

    philly villain Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2008
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    Club:
    TSV 1860 M√ľnchen
    Country:
    Germany
    U.S. Club has been a bit of a blessing for us if only because it gives our club the oppurtunity to play better quality competition than they would find in south jersey. We have 2 or 3 clubs that recruit/attract heavily outside their own towns and the quality of the remaining "Flight 1" teams in the local league drops off dramatically. Our ability (and success) to play clubs from north jersey and se pennsy, maryland etc., as well as DA's and their ilk thru U.S. Club has been a big help in retaining our players who otherwise would be looking to leave for one of "those" DA's.
     
  9. Bookmesir

    Bookmesir Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    Country:
    United States
    I am amazed at how little true information is passed onto the parents of aspiring young soccer players in our country. I have coached at the college level for 15+ years, albeit D3. The expectations for players seeking to play in college always seems to stem from them playing on club teams that go to these mammoth exhibition tournaments to get seen by college coaches. The fact is, from a coaching perspective, the plateau of playing ability makes assessing players at these tournaments very hard. The really good players are hard to find, and when you do notice them, they all seem to have made a verbal commitment to a D2 or D1 program. The vast majority of players seem to have achieved a very average level of tactical/technical playing acumen. Most are primed for middle of the pack D3 programs. But this is not what they, or their parents want to hear, or want to believe.
    Having colleagues who coach at D1 programs, they rarely even attend these big entrepreneurial tournaments anymore in search of recruits.
    I believe the better way to be seen is to go the summer camp route. This, too, is a money making machine of gargantuan proportions, but it places the prospect into the coaches backyard.
     
  10. Beau Dure

    Beau Dure Member+

    Joined:
    May 31, 2000
    Location:
    Vienna, VA
    No need to qualify it with "albeit" -- you've clearly been up to your neck in this. Thanks for the info.
     
  11. Bookmesir

    Bookmesir Member

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    Juventus FC
    Country:
    United States
    I have always felt the real difference in training soccer payers in the US compared to, say, the Netherlands, is that experienced coaches are employed to teach the U10's in Holland. In the US, the more experienced coaches seem to want to have nothing to do with the youngsters, when it is precisely at that age that they can truly benefit from a sound tactical introduction to the sport.
    This is why, IMO, we still see the youth game in the US dominated by the better athletes, as opposed to the better soccer players.
    Developing better soccer players requires patience and a real schematic plan designed on age appropriate challenges to learn to think as a player and progress accordingly.
    I don't see where this is occurring in the US with any sense of insight to the notion of long term development and a willingness to invest better coaching for younger age players.
    There's no money in it...sad but true. Altruism is a poor employment perk.
     
  12. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Location:
    Illinois
    I completely agree which is why (IMO) it's important to look for clubs that focus a good deal of attention on the younger ages. It's no different then learning a language or music - this is the time of their lives when they absorb the most.

    The big problem - as you mentioned is that clubs tend to toss their worst coaches at these ages. In some cases they actually hire low graded staff just to deal with what they like to call "Youth Academy" in order to impress parents.

    All it ends up is kickball. Kids get really fast but are completely unable to apply any finess on a ball while dribbling from one end to another.

    I just don't get it. Build from the botton and you will have better players at all levels and ages. Perhaps it's a $$$ issue? Nonetheless what we see at our club is a ton of u10-u12 players coming from these sorts of clubs with bad habits and no basic fundementals of ball control at all.
     
  13. Softtop67

    Softtop67 New Member

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    Nov 29, 2012
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    Manchester United FC
    In my area there are two distinct issues. First are the clubs who are purely focused on the $. They spend an inordinate amount of time fixing issues with u14s and up that could have been easily prevented with proper training at earlier ages.
    Then there are the trophy whores. They tend to dilute the player pool as they pick better athletes at a young age to line the trophy case and by the time they are u14 they have horrible habits , poor technique and for most just a lost cause. Very different from the attitude in successful soccer areas
     
  14. Timbuck

    Timbuck Member

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    Jul 31, 2012
    When did playing sports as a kid become all about playing in college and/or getting college paid for? I played football and basketball in HS. I was average, I started. I had fun. I never (or my parents) played with the vision that I would be going to college for free. I played because it was fun and because my friends played. And because the cute girls seemed to like athletes.
    My daughter's play soccer now and are decent, but way to young to make a judgement call on their future as an athlete. I'd rather "invest" the $2,000 per year for club fees into their college fund or on private school.
     
    guignol and Jeddy Rasp repped this.
  15. Bookmesir

    Bookmesir Member

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    Juventus FC
    Country:
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    I can't give you an exact date, but I believe things began to change in the early 1990's when youth soccer clubs were formed that offered tryouts to young athletes who lived well beyond the borders of the new club's field.
    In my area that club was FC Westchester. At first it seemed odd that a club could just spring up out of nowhere and be competitive. However, they did this and more. They began to attract the better players from a whole slew of other local clubs, in the process diluting the strength of those other teams, while upping their own status.
    They promised better coaching, tougher competition, year-round training, which at that time, was not the norm. This, too, changed the notion of how things ought to be done.
    The two and three sport athletes of old, revered for their versatility (and athletes who performed for his/her school teams), were being challenged by the concept of the specialist youth athlete who performed exclusively for the entrepreneurial club team.
    The whole thing has devolved into something parent/adult driven, not something that kids might opt for on their own if left alone.
     
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  16. Timbuck

    Timbuck Member

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    Jul 31, 2012
    Thanks for the reply. I know a lot has changed from when I played as a kid. But I remember the 2 best kids on my team when we were in 5th grade tried out for a club team. I was decent, but my parents knew and I knew that I had no business trying out.
    Now it seems like anybody that wants to play "Club" can "tryout" and get a spot on one of the teams. And it starts at the age of 7 now? Maybe even sooner. The parents pay their $1,500 and they get to put a sticker on the rear window of their car to show off that their kid is on "The Club Team".
    There are so many clubs in So Cal that it is ridiculous.
    Will it get worse before it gets better?
     
  17. Bookmesir

    Bookmesir Member

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    Juventus FC
    Country:
    United States
    It has gotten more insidious, if not worse.
    The academies now forbid their players from playing for their HS teams. So, the schism between club and school, for those aspiring to be termed elite, has been laid down. The general feeling amongst club coaches is that HS soccer is not advancing their players' games. Whatever extrinsic rewards a student may get from playing with schoolmates is deemed to be of lesser value than concentrating on the more competitive milieu of academy matches/training.
    Of course, there are HS programs that are perennially strong, coached by knowledgeable soccer people, and there are multiple benefits for any student to be involved in inter scholastic sports.
    Soccer is not the only youth sport to be influenced by the year-round training mentality, it's part of a larger trend of sport specific coaches who are not part of the educational system seeking to earn a living by attracting youthful athletes who's parents are affluent and well off enough to pay for the "advantages" of specialization.
    It requires a certain salesmanship and, almost, an arrogance, that, from a marketing standpoint, must demean the competition in the field (in this case scholastic sport) as being a lesser product.
    In reality, these are games for our children to play, that have been hijacked by the profit-driven motives of a select few.
     
    Jeddy Rasp repped this.
  18. GKParent

    GKParent Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2011
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    I don't post much, but I thought I'd post here just to provide some counter-points. I'm not intending to start an argument. It's just that everyone here is posting things that are completely counter to my experience, and basically assume that some of my best friends are complete idiots.

    I don't think it the system will change any time soon, and I don't necessarily think that it should. There are parts of it that I don't think make sense, but it's just the free market at work. Everybody wants freedom until somebody else does something they don't agree with.

    At the highest levels, there is plenty of talk of college scholarships, but I know plenty of parents with kids at mid-low levels of travel soccer, and I don't know any who are under any delusions about their kids' chance of college scholarships. Why do they pay $1500-2500 a year?

    1. The kids are actually learning the sport they enjoy and get to play with the same kids year after year. These ARE some of their best friends.
    2. They have a goal of making teams in high school. This is likely a local phenomenon, but if you want to play in high school, you'd better be playing club (or be a naturally great athlete).
    3. Travel games are more evenly matched. Again, this may be a local problem, but the rec leagues allow some coaches to retain players year after year and dominate their leagues by means of artificial car-pooling needs, "assistant coaches," etc.
    4. They can afford it. These are intelligent professionals. They know what they're doing.
    5. It's healthier and more fun than rec sports. My son won't even play for his school soccer team because it's such a low level of soccer it doesn't look like fun to him. He thinks it would just frustrate him. Sure, he'd be a star on the team, but that's not what he cares about.

    I do lament the loss of the multi-sport athlete, but I don't see evidence that it is parent-driven. I now have two single-sport athletes. When they were younger, they tried everything. At one point, my son was playing high-level soccer, mid-high baseball, mid-low football, and low level basketball. We were fully supportive of all of his activities. Unfortunately, one-by-one, almost always as a result of having a really bad coach, he quit everything but soccer. I was disappointed, because I though he had the potential to be decent at football and maybe baseball, but it was his decision.

    Meanwhile, this has gotten far off of the original topic, which was US Club. They seem to have been created primarily to fill a need that was not being met by USYS. That is, better competition for the top tier players, and better identification of the best players for National Team consideration. USYS has attempted to respond with their own Premiership leagues, but it may be too late.
     
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  19. Mirzam

    Mirzam Member

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    Club:
    Arsenal FC
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    England
    I have no problem with the DAs not allowing HS soccer. My DS is a serious player and has no intention of playing HS. He can get far superior training and development at his (MLS) club and he doesn't want to risk injury playing with less skillful players. He sees soccer as his future (whether or not he makes it is largely up to him) so playing in HS is meaningless to him and he is happy to leave it for other kids to play for fun and whatever kudos they get from being a HS athlete.

    As many DAs are completely free, right down to the food the boys eat when traveling then I can't see how these particular clubs are taking advantage of affluent parents.

    You sound like you have a chip on your shoulder, there is plenty of room for all kinds of skill levels to participate in soccer. HS soccer is not a lesser product for those that want to play it. For elite players with serious intentions to turn pro, let them have their academies.
     
  20. Bookmesir

    Bookmesir Member

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    Juventus FC
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    United States
    No chip, Mirzam...honestly.
    You make several good points and with a son of your own aspiring to the pro's more power to him.

    There are 80 DA's in the US. I'd venture for a country our size, there should probably be more to serve the population.
     
  21. Beau Dure

    Beau Dure Member+

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    May 31, 2000
    Location:
    Vienna, VA
    Some, not all.

    So to get back to U.S. Club Soccer and its Premier Leagues -- OK, so these kids aren't in the DA. Their parents are paying for a lot of travel. Are they getting ripped off?
     
  22. Mirzam

    Mirzam Member

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    Arsenal FC
    Country:
    England
    Right. the kids in the US Club Soccer and their Premier Leagues are not in the DA. I can't speak for any other of the leagues except the Mountain Developmental League and specifically CO, but my son has many friends on one of the teams and I know the parents well (we have watched a couple of their games) so far these parents have have paid out $200 which included uniform, this is on top of their regular club fees (teams play in both State and NPL leagues). This particular club also managed to get a sponsor so maybe they were able to offset some of the costs. They haven't had to pay for travel yet as the games were all in CO, and as the finals are in Denver, they will only have gas to worry about, I don't know how much they will have to pay for tournament entry fees.

    Is it a rip off? The general impression of these parents, most of which can spare the cash, is that it has been worthwhile for their kids. The level of play was above the state level so the games were more meaningful.
     
  23. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Location:
    Illinois
    That's a very good point.

    Not everyone is thinking college. I put my kids in a development program because it was away from their friends - they got to meet new friends with different backgrounds and experience something outside the "neighborhood". I wanted to build their social skills, confidence and more. That has worked very well with both kids but especially with my youngest who used to be incredibly shy.

    IMO I think we as parents need to sometimes help in guiding our kids to develop an identity. Some parents have their kids in tons of programs. For example my best friends wife has their boys in rec soccer, rec basketbal, rec baseball and boyscouts. IMO that's way too much to manage.

    In some cases - as in with theirs, the oldest starts to identify what they want to do and may jump into the competitive version of that - leaving rec behind.

    I choose to not take that route because at 6-8 these kids are like sponges in terms of learning. The problem is that many of the clubs near us are not teaching development and I want them to learn in that sort of environment - this is really an American based problem with Youth Soccer actually.

    As a result, in order to learn the right way you have to spend the $$$.
     
  24. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Location:
    Illinois
    I think this is a result of what Bookmesir mentioned when he spoke of it being parent driven.

    At the rec level you have a great player leaving and parents go bat s*&t crazy about whether or not the u10 rec team will now not wualify for the world cup.

    Now you got other parents on this team leaving for the same club the great kid is heading. Most those kids end up in clubs that train based on skill set - not age and are thusly not development. A lot of these kids will spend the rest of their youth in the lower divisions and parents wasting their $$$.
     
  25. VolklP19

    VolklP19 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Location:
    Illinois
    My oldest is going into High School next year and she will play basketball and track.

    I feel it's VERY important to participate in the social aspects of team sports in high school - it's a ton of fun!

    But she is staying with her program (club) for soccer.
     
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