Changes Coming to Travel Soccer

U.S. Soccer mandated changes coming to Fairmount Soccer:

As many of you may have already heard, U.S. Soccer will be mandating many changes for youth soccer in the next two years. None of the changes for 2016-17 directly affect anything the current teams will do this winter or spring season. Team changes will go into effect starting with the formation of the Fall 2016 teams. As the rules governing the formation of teams for the fall will change, we’d like to give families a guide to explain how we will organize the travel teams starting with the spring tryouts for the 2016-2017 travel teams.

The most obvious change with respect to the formation of travel teams regards the age groups of travel teams. U.S. Soccer has decided to follow the international soccer norm of forming teams by year of birth. This is a change from the old birthdate cutoff of August 1. For example, starting in the Fall of 2016, travel teams at the U12 age group will only contain players born in 2005 or later. Also, the number of players on the field has been adjusted for the younger age groups. U10 will play 7v7, and U11 and U12 will play 9v9 (currently they all play 8v8). It is not clear if the roster sizes will be adjusted from the current maximum of 14. The full line-up of age groups and age ranges is listed below.

What will that mean for our current travel teams? The Board of Directors in consultation with our coaching staff, has decided that it is in the player’s best interest to play at their own age level and not “play up” by playing with an older team, especially at the younger ages. The intramural program has already adjusted their age groups to account for the change.

Current ACADEMY, U10, U11, AND U12 TEAMS: The club will only allow players born in 2004 or after to play up in the next age group in limited circumstances. A prospective travel player that would prefer to play with an older team than his age group must have both the permission of the coach of the team and approval from the travel players committee in order to play up. The committee will be composed of the President of Fairmount Soccer Steve Moosbrugger, Travel Commissioner Marcia Henisz, and Head of Travel Coaching Mario Bono. The request will be evaluated by what is in the best interest of the club and the player, and will only be considered for players that have been evaluated to be in the top 6 players for the designated team, by the teams’ Head Coach and the Head of Coaching, Mario Bono. In the case that the club is unable to field a team at any age group, all players will be eligible for the next oldest age group.

Current U13, U14 and U15 TEAMS: For the older players who have already played a year with a team at the maximum of 11 v 11 level, the teams will adjust to the changes on a per team basis. Some teams may elect to skip an entire age group to allow all the players to be eligible for the team the following year. Some teams may branch off into two age groups, etc. Please see your current coach and/or manager for details on the planning for next year. For the older kids we will be more flexible about playing with older teams, as it is more common for teams to form across several age groups

Age groups that will take effect in the Fall 2016 season. Tryouts will be conducted in April 2016, tentatively scheduled for April 181-23.

2008/2009 Births Under 8/Under 9 The Academy Program* (still part of our intramural program)
2007 Births Under 10 travel (plays 7v7)
2006 Births Under 11 travel (plays 9v9)
2005 Births Under 12 travel (plays 9v9)
2004 Births Under 13 travel (plays 11 v11)
2003 Births Under 14 travel (plays 11 v11)
2002 Births Under 15 travel (plays 11 v11)
2001 Births Under 16 travel (plays 11 v11)
2000 Births Under 17 travel (plays 11 v11)

Other in game rule changes, to be phased in at a time and date TBD:

Players ages 10 and under will not be allowed to head a ball in games or practices. U.S. Soccer has not yet determined exactly which travel team age groups this will affect. This will announced at a later date. Also, the penalty for a player heading a ball in a game has not yet been announced.
For players ages 11-13, U.S. Soccer will mandate that there be only a “limited” amount of heading in practices. Heading in games will be allowed. Sometime in the future, U.S. Soccer will define how much heading will be allowed in practices.

SMALL SIDED GAMES: Many of these guidelines have been in practice at Fairmount Soccer for years because of the excellent leadership of Head of Intramural Coaching Steve Jackson. Fairmount Soccer practice of small sided games (3v3 to 6v6) for all players younger than our travel ages will not be much affected – we already do what U.S. Soccer is forcing all leagues to do. U.S. Soccer will mandate smaller sided games for players 12 and under. Games for travel teams who at U-10 will play 7 vs. 7 (6 field players and a goalie). Games for travel teams who are U-11 and U-12 will play 9 vs. 9 (8 field players and a goalie). Games for U-13 and up will continue to be full sided 11v11.

No punting is to encourage teams to not simply kick the ball down the field, but instead to pass and possess and build skills. In order to facilitate the ball being “played out of the back” there will be a safe zone on goalie restarts and goal kicks. It will likely be a line that defensive players must retreat behind somewhere between the goal box and midfield.

The ideal field sizes will adjust for each level of play (7v7; 9v9; 11v11). This will not be mandatory on existing fields, but we have several different field sizes already that will be adjusted accordingly.

Likely to not affect our ages of travel play.

Travel team games up through U-12 currently play 8v8 and use 7 x 21 foot goals. U.S. Soccer will be asking clubs to switch to slightly smaller 6 ½ x 18 foot goals. Clubs who are currently using 7 x 21 foot goals may continue to use them.