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The 50/50 Blog

Note:  Opinions expressed on the US Youth Soccer Blog (web log) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer). Links on this web log to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by US Youth Soccer with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of topics and issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.


The 50/50 Blog: 10.24.13


MLS Pumpkin Contest

MLS Pumppkin Cropped is running its third annual MLS Pumpkin Carving Contest from Thursday, October 24 - Wednesday, October 30. One person's pumpkin carving will be selected based on style, creativity, originality, and its connection to MLS ie: club logos, players etc. The winner will receive one MLS jersey of his/her choice* from, and the photo of their pumpkin will be featured on on Halloween. Learn more here.


MLS player looks for US Citizenship

New England forward Diego Fagundez confirmed he plans to seek US citizenship after securing permanent residency status earlier this week. Fagundez, 18, now counts as a domestic player for the Revolution after securing his green card. He didn't delve into the specifics surrounding his new status, but he noted the positive outcome represents the first substantive step toward a possible shot with the US national team. Read more here.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic strikes four times

PSG were visitors as they faced Anderlechtin UEFA Champions League player yesterday. Check out two of the four goals here that were brilliant on the way to PSG's 5-0 win over the home-side.


Sam Snow on youth soccer rankings

Sam Snow
US Youth Soccer's Director of Coaching, Sam Snow, shares his thoughts on the recent lowering of the ranking age for youth soccer players by a registration company. Read Sam's thoughts here,, and then leave a comment about your thoughts on the rankings.


Stadium of the day

The Aviva Stadium is located in Dublin, Ireland and is co-owned by both the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Football Association of Ireland. The stadium was officially opened in May 2010 and hold 51,700 spectators. Learn more.

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Ranking youth players is often more than a number

Sam Snow

Recently an online registration company announced it will begin to rank U9 to U11 teams. Right up front here’s my take on that – bad move! Fortunately the soccer public responded immediately and loudly against such a move. From our Men’s National Team head coach to Soccer America magazine to state and club coaches the pushback was strongly against the ranking of such young teams.
I am sure though that many adults will jump at the chance to have their U12 and younger teams ranked. Why? Bragging rights and revenue streams. Those are the only two reasons that otherwise reasonable adults would sell out the kids. Not to mention stalling the growth of the game in the USA.
The players will have been sold out since they will be robbed of the incentive to improve. After all, why have a growth mindset and a strong work ethic when you’ve been told you’re number 1 in the nation at the tender age of ten. Good soccer coaches, administrators, moms and dads know that to help young players improve their skills you praise their effort not the outcome. [Read the book Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck for more information on the growth mindset.]
Players are already disrupted in their development continuum by jumping from club to club. Rankings at such young ages will exacerbate the problem. This outcome will happen when soccer club customers (parents) quickly change from club A to club B as soon as club B goes up in the rankings with their U9 to U1_ teams. Buyer beware! Choosing the right soccer club for young players (consumers) is more complicated than picking your new refrigerator. Yet many parents will research the new fridge more thoroughly than the club; even though the development of a young soccer player is far more complex than the features on a refrigerator.
The aspect of the decision to offer national rankings for U9 to U11 teams being about money is obvious. The registration company will only rank teams in the events with which the company is affiliated; i.e., creation of a revenue stream.
A club that buys into ranking systems is also looking for a deeper revenue stream. They hope that by achieving a high ranking they’ll attract more players (consumers) along with their parents (customers). Let’s be clear, rankings have nothing to do with player development.
Rankings themselves are dubious at best. The only ranking that can be valid is one in a league with head-to-head competition. Even the FIFA rankings of national teams are a guessing game. No national team coach thinks the world rankings are absolute. I spent six years on the NCAA Men’s Soccer Committee. At the end of the college soccer season we had to rank teams to sort out the post season bids for the NCAA national championships. We considered head-to-head competition, common opponents and strength of schedule. We had three different mathematical formulas to help with those evaluations. We had six to eight hour long conference calls to sort it all out. Ranking college teams who hadn’t played each other wasn’t easy. And this was evaluating teams with adult players on them, not children’s teams.
In short, ranking preteen teams is not only a fruitless effort; it can be one that hinders the healthy growth of players and clubs. Just say NO to rankings!
What is your opinion on rankings? Are 9-year-olds too young? What about 13-year-olds? We want to hear from you, so let us know what your feelings are about ranking youth players by commenting on this article.

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The 50/50 Blog: 10.23.13


Orlando Soccer Stadium Approved
In Florida, the Orange County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted in favor of the approval of funds for a new multi-purpose, downtown soccer stadium for Orlando City SC. The move could help push the current USL Pro team into the MLS.


NCAA Top 25

Here are the weekly college rankings from Soccer America. Is your college/prospective college on the list?


Champions League Recap

Tuesday's UEFA Champions League games were full of great matchups that resulted in several entertaining games. Check out some highlights and analysis of the contests by watching these videos.


Soccer on TV
If you missed out on watching yesterday's Champions League, Soccer America has you covered with a list of soccer games you can catch on your TV during the rest of the week. Check it out.


Messi Makes Top 10

The 26-year-old has just become the first soccer player to break into the top-10 list of America's favorite athletes, according to the vast ESPN Sports Poll (October 2012-September 2013). Read more.


ODP Alum Wins Championship with Liverpool FC

ENYYSA Alum Amanda DaCosta Earns Championship with Liverpool FC | Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association, ENYSSA, Randy Voigt, Amanda DaCosta, Liverpool FC, Women\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Super League
Amanda DaCosta, a former US Youth Soccer ODP Eastern New York player, won the Women’s Super League championship in England with Liverpool Football Club. She started in every game as an attacking midfielder and dished out 12 assists during the course of the season.

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The 50/50 Blog: 10.22.13


Nike + Ronaldo

Ronaldo cleats
Nike has released the superstar Ronaldo's new line of Mecurial Vapor's the Nike Mecurial Vapor IX. Inspired by the Supernova, this shoe is supposed to celebrate Nike's brightest star on the field and in the sky.


Tim Howard to make broadcasting debut

Just 24 hours after Howard's Everton take on Guzan's Aston Villa at Villa Park, Howard will hustle himself down to London to make his broadcasting debut on NBCSN alongside former Seattle Sounders and MLS commentator Arlo White. Read More.


World Series ticket for six dollars

world series

Whether it was an error or on purpose, one lucky man will attend Wednesday's Game 1 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox for only six bucks. If you could get a ticket to the 2014 World Cup for six dollars, would you sell it, or would you go to the event? We would definitely go! Read More.


UEFA Champions League

The UEFA Champions League resumes today and tomorrow with games starting at 2:45 CT. There are some exciting matches so if you are lucky enough to be able to tune in during the day make sure you check them out. Find out which teams are playing.


Volley Goals


If you were fortunate enough to be able to watch this game between Fulham vs Crystal Palace Monday, you would have seen three spectacular volley goals. The three volleys would help lead the way for Fulham to secure a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace. Watch the highlights here.

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