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US Youth Soccer statement on U.S. Soccer’s birth-year registration mandate



US Youth Soccer statement on U.S. Soccer’s birth-year registration mandate

FRISCO, TEXAS (Jan. 26, 2016) — As previously announced in August 2015, US Youth Soccer, along with other youth soccer sanctioning bodies, will be implementing the U.S. Soccer Federation’s birth-year registration mandates on Aug. 1, 2016.  

This means that beginning Aug. 1, 2016 all regional and national US Youth Soccer competitions, including all levels of the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, US Youth Soccer National League, US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program, US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues and US Youth Soccer Presidents Cup, will be based on age group cut-offs of January 1 for each age group. Due to additional interpretative changes by U.S. Soccer since this announcement in how competition age groups are labeled, US Youth Soccer and other sanctioning bodies are now clarifying the age group structures for the 2016-2017 season.

  • Beginning Aug. 1, 2017, all youth soccer sanctioning organizations will form competitions based on birth-year age groups.
  • Beginning Aug. 1, 2016, US Youth Soccer will be using the following birth-year “labels” for competition, based upon the season in which competition ends. For example:
    • Players born from August 1, 1997 – December 31, 1998 will be labeled as Under-19/20s.
    • Players born from January 1, 1999 – December 31, 1999 will be labeled as Under-18s.
    • Players born from January 1, 2000 – December 31, 2000 will be labeled as Under-17s.
    • Players born from January 1, 2001 – December 31, 2001 will be labeled as Under-16s.
    • Players born from January 1, 2002 – December 31, 2002 will be labeled as Under-15s.
    • Players born from January 1, 2003 – December 31, 2003 will be labeled as Under-14s.
    • Players born from January 1, 2004 – December 31, 2004 will be labeled as Under-13s.
    • With the exception of the US Youth Soccer Under-19/20s, the age group “label” will be determined by subtracting the year in which the players participating in the competition were born from the year in which competition ends. 

The change to birth year age groups and to the “labels” for naming each age group have been made by U.S. Soccer. You may view the U.S. Soccer matrix here, please note the definition for US Youth Soccer Under-19/20s competitions above.

US Youth Soccer, along with other members of the U.S. Soccer Federation, have been collaborating with each other to help ensure that these changes forced by the U.S. Soccer mandates are implemented as efficiently and smoothly as possible. This collaboration of youth members is ongoing, and each member is continuing to provide feedback and recommendations.

Clubs may continue to organize their teams for competition with players of any age younger than the age group cut-off.

The US Youth Soccer Board of Directors encourages US Youth Soccer State Associations to transition as they deem necessary to accommodate their soccer landscape at the local level.



K Hendricks in Columbus, OH said: I am terribly disappointed in this change. My daughter who is '02 will jump 2 years from u13 to u15. This fall, she will start 8th grade, while the majority of the u15s will play for the high school teams. If she wants to play, then she'll have to play on some u15 team cobbled together from a variety of teams. Then what happens in the spring, when her current teammates return to club ball? Will she be locked into the cobbled team of 8th graders or will she be able to reunite with her "real" team? My understanding is that she won't be able to play with her real team. So she's worked hard for the past 2 years to help her team earn points, establish a record & qualify for regional league play...BUT if she wants to play for her "real" team in the spring, then she'll have to sit out this fall. How exactly does that help her? I don't really care that she moves to being the youngest. But I do care that she get's locked out completely for this fall season!!!!!!!!!
02 February 2016 at 10:10 AM
Jerry in Hendersonville, TN said: This whole age group thing that US Soccer is ramming down everyone's throat is absolutely absurd. ODP level of play, and higher, are already calendar year based, so this isn't even helping the 0.0001%. It's almost as if the decision makers didn't even think about the impact this decision: Hurting 99.9999% of the players, while not even helping the 0.0001%. At the height of the game's popularity, US Soccer has effectively imploded the foundation of its sport. If our country was so bad at developing players, why is the USWNT so dominate? The reason that our USMNT isn't as dominant is because the majority of our country's elite athletes choose to play football, basketball, or baseball. It has absolutely nothing to do with where the 12-month age cutoff line is. To suggest such, is a slap in the face to entire soccer community.
02 February 2016 at 9:30 AM
L. Schmidt in Selden, , NY said: I completely agree with how negatively the new mandate will effect the teams who have been together for many years and how it should have been implemented on the younger age level. In addition, how some age brackets are skipping complete years and playing older with the new mandate. However, I have a specific issue with the mandate. In New York, the age cut off for entering Kindergarten is December 1st. As a result, any New York players born in December of any given year will find themselves in a difficult situation when they are trying to be looked at by colleges. If the player is on a strictly birth year team (which most will be), the December born player will be on a team with players that are one grade ahead of them. More than likely, the December born player will find themselves at a disadvantage at any college showcases because they are graduating a year behind all of the player's teammates. The college coaches may only be interested in those upcoming graduates. In addition, when the December born player reaches 12th grade, the player will no longer have a team to play with because all of the January-November players on their team will have graduated the previous June. This same scenario will occur in other states depending on when the school age cutoff is. For instance, in New Jersey the cutoff is October 1st. Therefore, any players born between October 1st and December 31st will find themselves in this situation. At least there are three months of players that could try to form a team. However, it is even worse in New York, because you only have one month of players. I would like the USSF to explain to the December born New York players (and the players in this situation in other states) how this new mandate is helping them? Such a shame.
02 February 2016 at 8:48 AM
Andy B in Menomonee Falls, WI said: You will see a decline in the number of kids playing soccer. I just completed the on-line F License and 2 of the top 3 reasons kids play soccer are (1) Fun and (2) Friends. US Soccer has made the wrong decision to switch to calendar birth registration. This change will negatively impact millions of kids playing soccer but benefit 50-100 who are lucky enough to play on the international level. Kids (especially those 7-10 yrs old) will now not be able to play with their friends from school. This will decrease the amount of fun and long-term decrease the number of kids playing soccer. US Soccer should be trying to get and keep the funnel of youth players as big as possible. This decision will do the opposite. One of the greatest experiences of my life was playing youth soccer with my classmates. It's sad my kids won't have that same experience.
02 February 2016 at 8:44 AM
Mike S in Decatur, IL said: This is just so crazy and thinking of such a small minority. Yes big clubs can still field teams in those transition years. But our club is a small club, with typically one team at each age group. Next year there will be 4 players from our U13 team that do not have a team to play on in the fall. We are also 50 miles from the next club so combining with another club for fall is not very practical either. Yes we could play some of players up so they have a team but in a small club that snow balls and then you are left without enough players at the next age group below and so on. On top of that you have players that loose an entire year of training. My youngest son this year is a U10 next year he is a U12. So he just lost an entire year!!! Seriously why not put some thought into this and start it at U8 and work your way thru if the birth year change is so critical! I get and agree whole heartedly with the small sided games but this birth year change does nothing to help development of players in US Soccer!!
02 February 2016 at 8:32 AM
Kim in Bella Vista, AR said: My daughter has a December birthday and was completely devastated when she learned that she was one of the few who could not return to her team next year. Of course we have encouraged her and reminded her that change is inevitable, but there is no denying the genuine pain she feels. We do fear this may be her last year playing soccer. Is this really necessary? We can only imagine there are thousands of other boys and girls facing this when it could have been a easily avoided with a more thoughtful and sensible approach. Start the change with U5 or U6!
02 February 2016 at 8:30 AM
MichelleP in Copley, OH said: There are so many negative opinions from parents, coaches, and directors of youth programs. It is hard to believe the decision was made with no consideration for the 'typical youth player'. To me, realistically, 90% of the kids out there are not ELITE or beyond. The new structure is a design to benefit that small 10% and I don't think it was wise to force it on the general populous. Truly, it could have been rolled out as an option for elite club teams and beyond. Making it a mandate has raised a lot of hackles! I agree with so many others; kids are going to bail because of the new ruling. Oh well, who are we to say anything now? (unimportant at best, you can tell by how much our opinions were taken into advisement)
02 February 2016 at 8:00 AM
Concerned Parent in Milwaukee , WI said: This change is crazy. It serves no real purpose other than to shake things up. Small clubs may be forced to fold or merge with larger clubs as they may not be able to stay competitive. Why are we changing the rules for millions of kids when it benefits a handful at most. Those kids can already play up at the international level if they qualify. Taking a year of soccer away from every kid, and making u15 miss part of a season if they are still in 8th grade will make more of kids drop out of soccer and focus on other sports in high school - a time when we typically lose kids already. If a kid plays multiple sports already and is on the fence about which sport to focus on, this will likely push them out of soccer and into the other sport. We then lose talent, and the clubs and national organizations lose money. How is this a Win for anyone???
02 February 2016 at 7:45 AM
Owen in Crystal Lake, IL said: While I understand the side that focuses on the school calendar vs. birth year calendar and I can even see the point about those kids in 8th grade not having a team to play based on when this ruling takes effect, but what I can't wrap my head around is the fact that having your child play up against bigger and better competition is still an option. Rather than say its not fair to have my kid play with the teammates that they have been for the last few years, have them play up so that their abilities are challenged. It will only help with talent development. How will you know if your child's skills and abilities are any good if they do not step outside their comfort zone? Or is this more about yourself and the social aspect you get from the team parents? Who's the team really for anyway?
02 February 2016 at 7:43 AM
Chris in Cleveland, OH said: Seems like those most upset are the parents of kids born Aug-Dec who up till now have had the advantage of being the oldest, more developed kids on the team. Now they are not and will have to play with kids born the same year as them. For those that have played with the same team since forever, it is good to learn to play with different players. Do you think you won't have new teammates when they go to high school? We need to teach our kids to be able to adapt to change and not sit in our comfort zone their whole life. I have a feeling the kids will adapt to this better than the parents that may be loosing a few drinking buddies by the change.
02 February 2016 at 7:16 AM
Bob in Dublin, OH said: Read tge comments US Soccer. This change is a mistake. You are hurting way more kids than helping and you will negatively impact the number of kids who try soccer. The school year allignment was made to increase youth numbers and it worked. You will undo all the good it has brought
02 February 2016 at 6:25 AM
Dann de in Philadelphia, PA said: This is an absolute terrible decision! I'm ok with all the changes but the birth year. You are ruining so many young players and you couldn't care any less. I haven't come across one person that agrees with this. The hardest thing for young players is to get confidence and be comfortable. Both attribute to solid play and making young players switch teams and coaches will set them back. Reconsider this and show you care about our youth. If you are stuck on this then let existing teams be grandfathered and start regulating this with incoming U8's.
02 February 2016 at 6:07 AM
Tom in Sidney, OH, OH said: I've waited to comment on this, but can't hold back anymore. Mostly all comments about this are negative. Sorry, folks, but I am a supportive of these moves by US Soccer. Calendar year is easy to understand and increasing the numbers on short-side games gets more kids on the field. As far as kids having to play on a "new team," having to skip age groups, "play up" or "play back down," I think a lot of people are making a mountain out of a molehill. Tons of kids from across the country have had to switch teams - when you are younger, it makes sense to play with friends, but as you get older it is a BENEFIT to play with other teams / teammates. And get real, kids play up or get forced back to their own age group all the time - get over it. Furthermore, if you have intelligent people running your club, they will be able to figure this out to arrange rosters for minimal disruption. If your club is run by idiots who can't do math, then you might be in trouble. As far as the players that won't have a team to play for in that 8th grade transition year, that is the responsibility of the CLUB to make sure they are recruiting enough players to "play up" to fill a roster. I do think the bigger roster sizes and the age mandates may eliminate some "micro-clubs" (clubs with maybe 1-4 teams), because they will not have enough personnel to make this work. So, if you are a micro-club, maybe instead of complaining about this, roll with it and grow. All the whining in the world isn't going to change this - nor should it. It's a good idea. Some people just don't like it because it's change, and about 95% of the people in this world do not handle change very well.
02 February 2016 at 5:38 AM
A Culp in Waynesburg, PA said: When I learned of this move was based on how the rest of the world was doing things. I thought who had the bright idea to do this. Here is the deal in regards to the school age system we have right now. School age actually benefits the players and the world needs to be following our example and not the other way around. Because a school age takes into account level of maturity of a child and that is key to a child's ability to learn. Not to mention this a huge leap for many late birthdays. Who will essentially jump not one but two age groups with this coming change. Losing at least a year of development. Unfortunately my child is one of the millions of kids that is going to be affected by this. This move should have been better planned. It should have allowed for grandfathered player system with younger kids starting the game in this manner. I am truly disappointed in how this was handled. I believe the children and parents are owed a huge apology for the mess that is being made with this change.
02 February 2016 at 5:15 AM
Disappointed Dad in Woodbridge, VA said: I'm predicting my daughter will leave soccer and run cross-country and track where there is no problems with age. Not sure why the shift in age groups is occurring. Didn't the USWNT win the world cup with the program we've had in place for decades?
02 February 2016 at 4:41 AM
Jake in Minneapolis , MN said: Obviously, this change is because of the US Women's national team (sarcastically written). Please someone correct me if I am wrong here, but isn't the US Women's national team the reigning World Champions? Not once, but they have been crowned World Champions 3 times out of the 7 World Cups. They have placed in the top 3 of all 7. We obviously need a change. #WWYThinking?
01 February 2016 at 10:56 PM
Frank Seldin in Rhinebeck, NY said: The rational thing to do is phase this in, so teams that are currently together get to stay together. Where age cut-offs are drawn is arbitrary, and there is no right answer, but the wrong answer is to break up teams of young children that have worked hard and formed a tight social bond. On my daughter's team (U-10 for 2015/16), three girls who worked hard to overcome soccer and/or social challenges will be dropped. Because we are a small town, there is no other place for them to play. Hurt children and angry parents are now turned off to soccer. As a coach of this team, I will work harder to help those girls (mine is not one of them) find another avenue to be part of something than I will promoting soccer. That's what it means to care about kids, and any successful athlete (or anything else) will tell you their career got launched by a coach or mentor who cared more about them than the activity. It's a pity that USYS doesn't fit that description. It's not too late to rethink this atrocious decision and find a way to implement it over time that is not destructive to children. I implore USYS to do so. The USSF gave you until Aug 2017 to implement this. Maybe the right thing to do at this moment is delay until then and use the time to find a better way. There is a better way.
01 February 2016 at 8:11 PM
S Morgan in Atlanta, GA said: I'm sure the reasons are good for this change over all, but I don't see the need to implement it this way. Every bracket in every age group is going to be a mess. Some of these kids have worked hard to earn their spot in the bracket. With this change it's all going to be a huge mess that will take years to straighten back out. Why not implement the change for the rising U13's and under. Leave the older brackets intact. Granted this will take a few years to get the changes implemented across the board, but with far less grief for those involved. Is that any worse than having every bracket in every age group a total mess for years??
01 February 2016 at 8:06 PM
Zippy in LA, CA said: Why doesn't US Soccer address the concerns? I've yet to hear one person explain what 8th graders born Aug-Dec are supposed to do development wise while their HS teammates are in the school season. On a side note, the best player on my son's team only started soccer to play with his pre-school friends. He was this past year on a regional ODP team. How many kids will never give soccer a try because they can't organize a school team at a young age? We may miss out on our Messi and never know it. These changes should be for teams that play a national schedule only. Most of those kids don't play high school ball. And they are the likely ones to potentially make a national team.
01 February 2016 at 3:32 PM
Ken in Durham, NH said: I am a youth coach with almost ten years of experience coaching ages 6 - 15. I agree that while the intention is good, the implementation of this is flawed. The new age groups should be phased in starting with roughly age 6 players. Or better yet, implement this only at the ODP and Premier level. The new age groups will hurt half a generation of women's soccer players especially hard since many of the young ladies are very socially/peer motivated. It's simple: they want to be with and play with their friends from school. If they aren't, they're not as likely to do it. I see this program being the cause for many less dedicated travel players dropping out. My daughter who has has a November birthday will end up skipping U13 and playing with a group of older girls. She doesn't want that and I'm going to have a difficult time convincing her to stay with soccer. Can the younger girls play up? Sure. But that's making the age effect even worse and not always appropriate for the younger players. The FAQ states: "However, players joining and leaving teams is something that already happens regularly throughout country." Maybe on the ODP and Premier level, but not at the town travel level. Most of these girls have been playing together for years with very few players joining/leaving. I understand this isn't about team success. However, to get to individual success, there needs to be a team & player motivation. At the town level, that motivation happens via the team and peers. Most of the girls we work as a coach will NOT be professional soccer players. Very few will go onto Div 1 college teams. So why are the girls playing? Because of the rewards of participating in a team effort with their friends. The new age policy is removing that reward for the current generation of U9-U14 players.
01 February 2016 at 3:28 PM

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