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U.S. Youth Task Force Leadership Council Distributes “Open Letter”

A common theme in the youth soccer landscape this past year since our men failed to qualify for the World Cup has been the lack of collaboration in our youth soccer landscape.  There has been a call to action for organizational structures that make sense and speak to the needs and desires of the players.  I wrote recently about how Collaboration is a Force Multiplier and called on leaders to find ways to work together to elevate the game in the United States.

I was in Washington, DC yesterday attending the Aspen Institute’s Project Play Summit.  This is an annual gathering of youth sports leaders.  At the Summit, Nico Romeijn, Chief Sport Development Officer for U.S. Soccer spoke on a panel about soccer in America and Ryan Mooney, Chief Soccer Officer for U.S. Soccer shared a statement about U.S. Soccer’s commitment to coach education.

At one point in the day I walked into a room to find Chris Moore, Executive Director of US Youth Soccer, Nico RomeijnJay Berhalter – Chief Commercial Officer for U.S. Soccer, Mike Hoyer – Executive Director of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), and Ryan Mooney all enjoying a conversation!  I couldn’t help myself and immediately asked for a picture (above) to demonstration collaboration in action!

Later last night a symbolic first step towards a reorganized youth soccer landscape was made – with the distribution of the below letter to the American soccer public.  My understanding is that this task force will continue to meet regularly and that change will result.  IT MUST RESULT. I know change will be hard as business interests must be protected – however we need to make certain the player is always placed first.

We have an amazing opportunity in front of us in hosting the Men’s World Cup in 2026.  It is essential that we look forward to 2026 as a hard deadline for this exciting restructuring.

Oct. 17, 2018

Letter from Youth Task Force Leadership Council

As you may know, U.S. Soccer formed a special task force to specifically address youth soccer matters. The belief is that our sport is much stronger when its stakeholders are working together.

We took our first step last Friday, Oct. 12, holding the first Youth Task Force Leadership Council meeting in Tampa, Fla. With a council comprised of the leadership from AYSO, SAY Soccer, US Club Soccer, USSSA, US Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation, we discussed a number of critical issues facing youth soccer in America.

We believe that with an eight-year runway toward the 2026 FIFA World Cup, we have an opportunity to transform soccer in America, and it starts by tackling the challenges in front of us at the grassroots level.

This Task Force, which will grow to include experts and thought leaders supporting a number of working groups, will focus on areas where we believe we can work together to create significant and lasting change, while supporting the strategic vision for U.S. Soccer.

As we work together, the following statement guides our approach:

Soccer is the most beloved sport in the world, and we believe its future in the U.S. will be positively impacted by our efforts to work cooperatively under a shared sense of purpose and a common belief in supporting the development of players, coaches and referees.

In that way, we believe…

… that players should be kept at the center of every decision, and should be provided with an environment that is fun, inclusive and safe.

… that coaches should participate in courses and educational opportunities that match their ambition.

… that referees should be treated with respect, and provided with the resources that allow them to develop and enjoy the experience.

There are many faces of youth soccer – across all ages and levels of competition – and we are unified in our desire to grow the sport together.

In closing, we wish to express our deepest gratitude to the many thousands of volunteers and professionals who have dedicated their lives to this beautiful game. You inspire us, and together we will work to improve the game for all those who participate in it.

AYSO – Mike Hoyer 
SAY Soccer – Doug Wood
US Club Soccer – Mike Cullina
USSSA – Craig Scriven
US Youth Soccer – Dr. Pete Zopfi
U.S. Soccer – Carlos Cordeiro, Dan Flynn, John Collins and Tim Turney

  • Put resources and build fields in poor neighborhoods

    Keep the kids in their neighborhoods stop the recruiting at youth level till age 15 unless it’s a professional academy not any academy

    the big club coaches then would have to coach and develop players instead of recruiting special talented players from around them to win championships

    Biggest problem is youth recruiting and greed to win so the club’s can get more customers to support the club coaches pay checks

    In Phoenix we have the best development club TUZOS and they produce great talent with non licenced coaches then the wolves from bigger clubs and bribe them and take them out of their environment and destroy the kids potential to reach their FULL potential FACT


  • Our child played club soccer for 9 years and quit this past year because of an abusive coach. He is a very high level coach of a big soccer club and interesting fact happens to be “socially” connected to Sky Eddy Bruce and is very proud how he places many NCAA soccer players.

    He was verbally abusive and most of what he said was not related to soccer, things that would have him fired in any real workplace. Unfortunately, our child didn’t tell us until it got bad but we saw a major difference in the soccer passion and knew something was changing. We walked away in the middle of the season and just recently our child has (thankfully) started kicking the soccer ball around at school recess and in the backyard. This is a kid that always had a soccer ball on the foot and not because a parent or coach mandated it. We are not “high test” parents and our child is well rounded and really just loved, loved soccer. Trust this, our child is very mentally strong and we would not have thought a coach could get away with this type of abuse but do not underestimate the power a coach has over a young player. We are so relieved that our child finally realized that no adult should speak to a child that way and decided to walk away and realized that no sport was worth that type of abuse.

    Soccer in the U.S. will never be what it could be until someone pays attention to the mental aspect of these coaches who don’t (or can’t) understand what kind of life impact (good or bad) they can have on young children (in soccer and out). We have anger over the fact that we payed alot of money and put trust in the club/coach and had no idea what he was saying to our child when he was supposed to be teaching soccer on a field and we were not there. It will not be our decision if our child plays again competitively but when, or if, our child wants to play soccer we will help support and watch very closely.

    There should be some system in place that these club coaches (even the top, very connected ones) are held accountable for how they treat kids. Our fear now is that because we didn’t hold this coach accountable that another child will go through the same or worse. There is no easy answer but organizations that deal with kids should have strict protocols on how to do no harm (physically or mentally) and soccer licensing should be required to include coursework.

    We have no idea why this ‘coach’ targeted our child or if he knows any better. We do believe that (most times) when people know better they do better. Really good players are quitting soccer for all different reasons. Our child can’t be the only one that left because of a coach that damaged a child’s love of the game. Let’s Know Better, Let’s Do Better.

    • Thanks for speaking up and sharing your families’ experience! We must hold coaches to higher standards when it comes to their interactions with our children! I hope you raise your concerns and share your experiences with the soccer club leadership!

  • I just want to clarify in my previous post that by “socially” connected to Skye Eddy Bruce I meant he is connected to her social accounts and appears to care about learning/educating himself to be a better coach. Clearly he isn’t absorbing the quality information she is sharing because this coach is verbally abusive to young players.

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    Skye Eddy

    Founder, SoccerParenting.com
    Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF "B" License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.