Posted by Team Chicago Soccer Club on Mar 24 2016 at 11:43AM PDT in 2015-2016

Updated March 26, 2016

Upon careful consideration of all the potential pros and cons of the various options laid out in my October 30, 2015 and January 6, 2016 statements, and after consultation with like-minded clubs in Illinois, Region II, and across the country, Team Chicago has made the following decision as it relates to team registrations for the 2016-17 season:
1) As a rule all age groups will move to birth-year teams.
This does not mean that players will necessarily play in their own birth-year as players might play up, or we might combine two birth-year age groups to create a competitive or viable team. As an example, it is likely that some “B” teams will be “two birth-year” teams to allow classmates to play on the same team and to ensure a full roster of players. And we might move a player up an age-group or two to create the most competitive “A” team possible in an age-group, or because that player’s talent warrants playing and training in a more competitive environment.
The main reason for this decision is that in order for our “A” teams to stay competitive at the state, regional, and national level we cannot afford to “play up” with teams that are considerably younger than the competition.
In our final assessment of the U7-U12 (2010-2005) age groups we determined that it will make the most sense to mirror the older age groups for the ease of transition in subsequent years.
2) “A” teams will train in the following “two birth-year” training groups (1998-1999, 2000-2001, 2002-2003, 2004-2005, and 2006-2007) with 2 head coaches – one for each birth-year team.
This is a necessity as the 1998 age group will only consist of players born August 1st-December 31st, and the 2002 age group will have 7/12 of the players in high school and 5/12 of the players in middle school thus missing more than half the players in the spring of 2017. One of the advantages of the training groups will be that the training environment will change every year as the players will alternate between being the younger and the older players in the training group. This will provide a fresh feel to the training environment and a more appropriate balance between “punching above your weight” and being a “big fish in a small pond” on a daily basis.

Please, note that we are not in favor of the U.S. Soccer mandate, and that we are simply trying to make the best of what we believe to be a poor decision. The only real advantage we see is that this will give us an opportunity to structure teams around the talent and commitment level of players to a much greater extent. Thus pairing like-minded players rather than merely pairing grade-level players.

The initial placement of the U17-19 (2000 through 1998 birth-years) girls’ teams in the Fall 2016 season has already been determined based on the Fall 2015 season results. The 1998 team will be an MRL Premier I and National League participant. The 1999 team will be an MRL Premier II participant. The 2000 team will be an MRL Premier II participant. The 1999 and 2000 teams’ placement could change to MRL Premier I as teams across Region II get restructured at tryouts.

The placement of the boys’ teams and the U15-16 (2002 and 2001 birth-years) girls’ teams will be based on the results of Spring 2016 season.

Also, please note that the age-group monikers have moved up a year, so the oldest age group is going to be U19 (1998s in 2016-17) instead of U18 currently. This does not mean that players will lose a season even though as an example some players will go from being U14 this year to being U16 next year.

Phil H. Nielsen
Technical Director
Team Chicago Soccer Club


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