In early May, the youth soccer community is approaching tournament season. The early months of the year are devoted to State Cup and tryouts for the upcoming fall season. Once teams are established, preparation for the Fall begins with tournament season. This year, Cal South’s list of officially sanctioned tournaments is extensive and you can be sure that each of the clubs hosting these competitions will be looking forward to welcoming neighbors and rivals to compete as newly formed teams balance their chemistry and gear up for the 2017 competitive season in which U.S. Soccer’s mandates for youth development are due to be enforced.
For many clubs, the birth-year mandates caused chaos and confusion. Early adoption in 2016 was a route that several clubs took in order to “rip off the band-aid” so to speak and iron out the kinks that were inevitable when it comes to overhauling the entrenched infrastructure that had been set for so long. The field size regulations, coupled with new goal specifications to boot, affected both players, coaches and club administrators as they made to comply with the new mandates from the Federation.
Under the new age groups of U6 to the U8 there wasn’t much change to the field size but rather the amount of field players. These games will be played on a 30 by 20 yard field with a 4′ x 6′ goal. There will be no goalies or offsides for these age groups. In addition, the length of the game will be 32 total minutes with four quarters lasting 8 minutes each. However, the U8 age group will be playing 3 periods lasting 15 minutes each.
For U9 through U10, the field size will be 47 x 30 yards with a 7 v 7 field player format. Each team will have a goalie protecting a 6.5′ x 18.5′ foot goal with 6 field players in front of them. The game clock will consist of two 25-minute halves with a 10 minute break in between.
Lastly, the U11 and U12 age groups will be playing with the same goal size as the two younger age groups, and the offsides rule will be in effect. The game clock will increase by 10 minutes and will include two, 30-minute halves. The only differences here are the increased game clock and it will be a 9 versus 9 format.
Now, with Spring in the air and the 2017 Fall season approaching, the time for all clubs to adopt the Federation’s standards is nigh. Most of the sting of restructuring teams has subsided, and new field lines have been drawn with new field equipment secured. Will the changes enforced by U.S. Soccer result in improved players development? Only time will tell for certain, but for now, embrace 2017 and set your goals high whether you’re a player, coach or club admin; make 2017 the best one yet.