There’s a rumor going around that US Soccer is mulling a change from its current birth year cutoff that was implemented in the fall of 2016. It was shared recently on Facebook by one of the leagues we participate in (Buckeye):

US Youth is wanting to understand your thoughts, the implications and/or your concerns on going BACK to the old method…

Posted by Buckeye Premier Youth Soccer League on Friday, December 6, 2019

We haven’t seen anything from US Soccer yet. We have been told that US Youth Soccer has asked its State Association Presidents to provide feedback on the impacts that occurred when changes were made from a school year to calendar year, and what they’d foresee as impacts if we went back.

Cincy SC’s official take (not trying to speak for an individual coach or parent though) is this:

  • The change to birth year in 2016 was a mistake and should be corrected.
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  • The birth year cutoff is challenging socially at the youngest age groups (1st graders don’t want to play with 2nd graders, and vice versa), and a big problem each year for the trapped 8th graders and trapped Seniors whose former club teammates have now moved on to high school or college.
  • The BEST cutoff would match the school cutoff (i.e., Sept. 30, but not sure if that’s consistent across the US).
  • US Soccer matching the culture of America (grouping by school year) is a better way to increase soccer participation than grouping like FIFA. The compelling reason to “switch back” is that participation has decreased (not certain and don’t have stats to prove it, but think so).

To those who are quite reasonably upset about another possible change, here are a few more thoughts:

  • It may not happen.
  • Change is hard (but it’s easier for the kids than it is for the parents & coaches).
  • Having 2 systems as some have proposed (i.e., grandfathering older groups into keeping the birth year cutoff) is unrealistic and short-sighted (sorry); players can play up to solve that though.
  • Letting the frustration over the last change (to birth year in 2016) affect today’s thinking would be throwing good money after bad.
  • It would be easier this time, because now we’re pros at changing and because players will see some positives in it.
  • US Soccer’s leaders better have thick skin – they’re gonna need it.

What are your thoughts?