Understanding US Soccer’s Mandate for Birth Year Registration and Small-Sided Games

US Soccer and US Club Soccer's Mandate for Youth Soccer Development - Black Oaks Youth Soccer Club - Santa Rosa, California

Many of you may have heard about changes afoot for US Club Soccer in partnership with US Soccer, which manages national team soccer in this country. The changes involve switching age registration from school year to birth year, which aligns the US with the rest of the world.  Also, for ages 12 and under there will be smaller sided games to allow players more space and more touches on the ball.

The birth year registration means that most teams will need to be split in two and merged with older and younger ages.  Within the club we feel that change is good for player development.  The move will give players a chance to make new friends and learn from new coaches.  Also we feel this is part of the greater good for US Soccer.

Many have expressed confusion and frustration with with smaller sided games for young players.  But if you have ever watched bunch ball and seen the failure of our soccer culture to match the soccer talent of other countries, then we look forward to seeing our young players with the ball at their feet, their head up, taking on defenders.

Below is the original announcement by US Soccer and US Club.

Black Oaks Youth Soccer Club - Santa Rosa, California

Black Oaks Titans

US Club Soccer announces implementation plan for U.S. Soccer’s recent coaching initiatives

UPDATE (Oct. 30, 2015): On Sept. 15, US Club Soccer communicated how our organization would be implementing the new birth year registration and small-sided game mandates from the U.S. Soccer Federation. This communication was made to help our members plan for the future with significant time to prepare. It is accurate with respect to US Club Soccer competition structures until Aug. 1, 2016.

In the past weeks, there have been some interpretative changes in how competition age groups are labeled, and potentially the effect these changes will have once birth-year registration is introduced on Aug. 1, 2016. We understand that there are significant questions being raised in many areas – from parents, coaches and clubs – about intent, implementation and intended or unintended effect of various positions and changes.

US Club Soccer is in extensive dialogue with other youth organizations and with the U.S. Soccer Federation regarding these changes. We hope to have clear and concise responses to these questions in the coming weeks. We will communicate exactly what the appropriate age group labels will be and the implementation plan to most efficiently adjust to these Federation mandates, as soon as we are able.

Thank you for your patience as we work through this issue.

(Sept. 15, 2015): US Club Soccer has announced its implementation plan for U.S. Soccer mandates to calendar-year competition and small-sided games. US Club Soccer’s Board of Directors approved the action late last week in accordance with U.S. Soccer’s recent coaching initiatives.

  • US Club Soccer members will be required to transition age grouping of teams from school-year based (Aug. 1-July 31) to calendar-year based (Jan. 1-Dec. 31) by Aug. 1, 2016.
  • US Club Soccer members will be required to follow the U.S. Soccer mandates related to small-sided games, which also includes changes to field and goal sizes, by Aug. 1, 2017.

If able to do so, members are encouraged to implement these initiatives prior to the mandates coming into full effect.

The new calendar-year format is consistent with international standards and U.S. Soccer youth national team programming. Players will still be allowed to play in an older age group. Small-sided and field size standards are for U-6 through U-12 age groups.

In order to ensure the smoothest and most efficient transition, US Youth Soccer and other youth soccer organizations are also implementing these standards at the same time.

The National Cup XV Finals will accommodate teams constructed both from calendar-year competition (Jan. 1-Dec. 31) and school-year registration (Aug. 1-July 31).

The 2016 NPL Finals will also accommodate both roster structures. Many NPL clubs are already calendar-year based, though.

In addition, all tournaments submitted for US Club Soccer sanctioning that will be played after Aug. 1, 2016 will only be approved if age groups are calendar-year organized.

Player passcards will continue to be issued on an Aug. 1-July 31 competition season.

Questions may be directed to your respective US Club Soccer membership services representative.


A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer is an organization committed to the development and support of soccer clubs in the United States.

US Club Soccer offers youth and adult registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms at the recreational and competitive levels, as well as a variety of other programming, including the Olympic Development Program-sanctioned id2 Program and Player Development Programs.

Through US Club Soccer, all of a club’s programs – recreational, competitive and adult – are able to be united under one organizational umbrella, creating a “members for life” culture within each club. US Club Soccer is sponsored by Nike.

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About Alex Campbell
“Alex” is a creative writer, editor, blogger, and digital marketing professional seeking freelance opportunities in marketing, communications, social media, public relations, investor relations, government relations, sales and service. Offers over 20 years experience elevating brands, sharing stories and driving sales for interesting, innovative and disruptive products, services and new technologies.

3 Responses to Understanding US Soccer’s Mandate for Birth Year Registration and Small-Sided Games

  1. Pingback: Annual General Meeting January 9 | Black Oaks Soccer Club

  2. Steve says:

    If my child was born in 2003 this puts her in the u14 (birthday July 7) if their are not enough girls to be a u14 team how much can she play up

    • Alex Campbell says:

      Thanks for writing, contact us directly if you have any questions. Your coach and club will help you find a team.

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