US Soccer adds U-16, U-19 national teams; Working to change NCAA model

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The United States Soccer Federation is filling the holes in its youth ranks.

Our country’s governing soccer body is adding U-16 and U-19 national teams to both its men’s and women’s set-ups, additionally posting a U-12 academy.

This gives the USSF national teams at U-14 through U-20 and U-23 (the latter commonly referred to as the Olympic team).

From USSoccer.com:

Sustaining our commitment to overall player development, U.S. Soccer will be augmenting Youth National Team programming by adding U-16 and U-19 National Teams. These additions create two separate programming tracks for even-birth-year players and odd-birth-year players, allowing for a more consistent approach toward development and opportunities for additional players to participate.

US Soccer also announced it will work with the NCAA to change and lengthen the current season to have it run outside of the Fall.

Since the dawn of Major League Soccer, college soccer has played a significant role in producing players for the professional and international level. U.S. Soccer is collaborating with the NCAA to make changes to the college soccer model that will benefit the health and wellness of the athletes by extending the season over a longer period of time. Off the field, former MLS executive Nelson Rodrìguez has taken on the role of Managing Director, National Team Advisory Services. This new department will provide guidance, counseling and education on a variety of career-related topics to members of the National Team player pool

That’s a big deal. Changing the structure of the college soccer season is not a new idea, but one that will drastically alter and possibly crush soccer at the fourth-tier level. Those leagues, the National Premier Soccer League and Premier Development League, currently utilize college players in the offseasons and help new markets begin to embrace the game at a higher level.