If you’re new to the travel or recreational soccer scene, your child may have played in a league or tournament sanctioned by US Youth Soccer (USYS). But many newcomers to the youth soccer community aren’t familiar with the various organizations that manage the game at the state, regional and national levels.
So, what exactly is US Youth Soccer, and what do they do?
US Youth Soccer is the largest youth sports organization in the country, registering nearly 3 million players on an annual basis. Since its inception in 1974, USYS has served as a governing body for youth soccer associations across all levels of play.
Through a democratic structure, the membership of US Youth Soccer is able to provide guidelines which facilitate intra-state, inter-state and international play.
State: Currently, USYS oversees 55 Member State Associations, encompassing 10,000 clubs and leagues, along with close to 1 million administrators, coaches and volunteers. The membership body features one State Association per state except for California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, which each have two.
Regional: State Associations are grouped across four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Each year, regional competitions send the top teams and players from their member state associations onto the national level.
National / Global: For teams and players who advance through the regional stage, USYS holds several national competitions on an annual basis. At a larger glance, organizations across America are members of both US Youth Soccer and U.S. Soccer. U.S. Soccer, along with over 197 other national soccer organizations, are members of FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association. FIFA serves as the international governing body for soccer and U.S. Soccer has been a member since 1913. Together, local, national and international organizations form a family of support for the young soccer players of America.
Main Competition Platforms
The following programs are the primary competition platforms managed by USYS. The common structure of most USYS events – including the National Championship Series, Presidents Cup and Olympic Development Program (ODP) – is the progression from the State, to Regional to National levels throughout the season. The best teams at each level move on to higher levels of competition, culminating with each season’s national title events.
Each summer US Youth Soccer crowns a boys and girls national champion in each of its seven age divisions (13U, 14U, 15U, 16U, 17U, 18U and 19U). The finals are a culmination of a year-long series of competitions at the state and regional levels known as the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series which provides approximately 185,000 players on 10,000 teams from US Youth Soccer’s 55 State Associations the opportunity to showcase their soccer skills against the best competition in the nation.
The US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) was formed in 1977 to identify a pool of players in each age group from which a National Team will be selected for international competition; to provide high-level training to benefit and enhance the development of players at all levels; and, through the use of carefully selected and licensed coaches, develop a mechanism for the exchange of ideas and curriculum to improve all levels of coaching.
The US Youth Soccer National League is comprised of three areas of competition. The primary league competition features 13 regionally aligned National League Conferences that operate team-based and club-based leagues. Two national-level competitions — the National League Showcase Series and the National League Playoffs — provide connectivity betw:en the conferences and offer a platform for teams to play unique cross-conference matches with added exposure to scouts. The National League Playoffs also provide teams with opportunities to advance to the US Youth Soccer National Championships.
The US Youth Soccer Presidents Cup provides a progressive, competitive experience to US Youth Soccer teams from the state to regional to national level. The Presidents Cup gives players an additional opportunity to compete against teams from across the country at a high level for the joy and the challenge of the game. It provides the chance to experience a unique US Youth Soccer event with camaraderie, community and competition through sport.
Soccer Across America is designed to introduce the sport of soccer to youngsters living in communities not yet served by existing clubs and leagues. Focused on making soccer available to lower-income children in under-served communities, Soccer Across America provides soccer training and administrative guidance to players and organizations who might otherwise not be exposed to the sport.
The USYS United Cup aims to provide recreational youth soccer players an opportunity to experience a consistent and high quality statewide tournament in a fun, family-like atmosphere. It fosters stimulation and excitement about soccer in an effort to increase the recreational players interest in and love for the game.
US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl, who has a mental or physical disability.
In September, the National Youth Soccer Month campaign revolves around educating the public about the joys, rewards and benefits of playing youth soccer, and offers a variety of resources to learn more about youth soccer and get involved.