CHICAGO (Jan. 17, 2019)— With the objective to expand and improve the Men's Youth National Team player pool, U.S. Soccer will launch a new Youth National Teams Under-14 Talent Identification Program this month. This new scouting model will function as a collaboration between the U.S. Soccer Talent Identification department (TID) and the Youth National Teams Program.
The new YNT U-14 TID Program is designed to discover and introduce a larger base of top talents at the U-14 age group into the scouting funnel of the older U-15 to U-20 YNTs. A mini-camp format will help evaluate and inspire high-potential players while accelerating their development in an engaging and challenging environment. A similar YNT U-14 TID Program will be implemented for female players next season.
“With this Youth National Teams and Talent Identification program, we will be able to identify a higher number of talented players at an important moment in their development,” said U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Tab Ramos. “This will help us to create an even more competitive Youth National Teams environment, which will deliver more competitive Men’s National Team players for years to come.”
The program starts with the in-market scouting process: players will be observed in games and the top talents selected to attend YNT Identification Centers. Formerly known as Training Centers, Identification Centers are scheduled to be held in 25 key markets nationwide and will be overseen by U.S. Soccer TID Managers and YNT Network Scouts. These single-day sessions, hosted at local clubs or U.S. Soccer member organizations, gather more than 600 top talents each year in the U-14 and U-15 age groups. Depending on the number of top players identified in each market, YNT Identification Centers are held there two to three times each year in the fall, winter and spring.
“Our TID Managers and YNT Network Scouts, along with the Academy and member clubs, are identifying more and more players with YNT potential that we want to influence and get to know better through our in-market YNT Identification Centers and mini-camps,” said U.S. Soccer Director of Talent Identification Tony Lepore. “We can use these settings to create an engaging and fun environment over multiple days to help us compare players from different scouting areas in order to eventually identify the top talents that will funnel into our U-15 Boys’ National Team.
“At the same time, by bringing together the best-of-the-best, we have a special opportunity to really challenge and inspire the players to take responsibility for their own development. We also can use the time off-the-field to educate the players about important topics like nutrition, sleep and recovery as well as use video to provide individual feedback and introduce YNT principles.”
Following the in-market scouting process, YNT U-14 TID Regional Mini-Camps will bring together 80 of the best players from each of U.S. Soccer TID’s three scouting regions – East, Central and West – for a three-game, round-robin competition. Overseen by the U-14 Boys’ National Team Coach, the five-day camp will feature four, 20-player teams (one representing each scouting area), playing three games against each other over the course of four-and-a-half days.
The inaugural West Regional Mini-Camp will run from Jan. 17-21 at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. The Central and East mini-camps will take place in March and April, respectively.
Girls’ Talent Identification Director Mirelle Van Rijbroek and the three Girls’ TID Managers will be on-site at the Boys West Regional Mini-Camp to observe the new YNT U-14 TID Program in action and continue their planning for the Girls’ edition of the program.
After the Regional Mini-Camps this winter/spring, 60 players will gather for a U-14 National Identification Camp this summer. Roughly twenty players will come from each region, but the roster may also include international-based players beginning at this stage. Held for a full week in the vein of a traditional YNT training camp, the U-14 BNT head coach, all three boys’ TID Managers and six U.S. Soccer Development Academy coaches will be on-hand to guide the camp.
The culmination of the new U-14 Identification Program then comes in the fall, when 20 players will compete in an international event as the U.S. U-14 Boys’ National Team, giving the selected players the opportunity to represent their country in their first international games. From there, players will have the opportunity to advance to the U-15 BNT and continue to progress through the YNT program pathway.
In addition to expanding the YNT player pool at its early stages, the new scouting and identification structure changes programming for U-14 players by allowing them more time to absorb core principles of the YNT philosophy and accelerate their development. Each region’s best talents will compete against each other in three additional meaningful games. Additionally, travel is minimized through the first stages of the program, helping minimize days away from home, school and club.
The new program also offers the opportunity to bolster U.S. Soccer’s national network of scouts to further their education and development while also building its connection with clubs across the country. While the U-14 BNT coach and TID Managers will be on-hand at Regional Mini-Camps, the four sub-regional teams will be coached by scouts from U.S. Soccer’s YNT Scouting Network and local Development Academy coaches from the same area.
“This model will really help us strengthen not only our own YNT Scouting Network, but also our relationship with the clubs in each of the key markets,” Lepore said. “It’s a critical relationship, because scouting starts with the clubs in their own communities. Everyone will begin to have this reference point, which is important with the size of our country and also when comparing the level of players from different areas to make the right recommendations. We want clubs to have a really clear picture of the key qualities we’re looking for in this age group and a better understanding of the level of the top talents in their region.”
“The new program helps us cast a wider scouting net for national identification but also allows us to evaluate players with an eye towards the future, identifying the ones to keep monitoring in their own environment as we move into the U-15 cycle and beyond.Read more
CHICAGO (Sept. 7, 2018) – As part of its mission to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States, U.S. Soccer announced the Innovate to Grow Fund is available for the second straight year. The Fund, which was launched for the first time in 2017, provides up to three million dollars to help members launch new and innovative programs to stimulate growth amongst their membership.
The goal of the program is to identify and take scalable and transportable ideas related to growing the sport of soccer in the United States and push them forward.
U.S. Soccer members will need to apply to receive funds. There is no limit on the amount a member can request, and the project can be up to three years in length. The application must meet certain criteria, including:
- The program must be new and different from current efforts.
- The program must demonstrate capability to grow participation
- The program must demonstrate potential to scale in other markets.
- The program must align with U.S. Soccer Player Development Initiatives.
The member must also be financially invested in the program.
The application process will be announced in the near future.
Last year, the first round of the initiative, the award winners included: the joint (youth and adult) state associations of Alabama, Tennessee, Colorado, Georgia and Louisiana; the youth state associations of Alaska, Cal North, Illinois, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and Missouri; and the adult state association from Washington.
I pledge to be educated on the signs and symptoms of concussions.
I pledge to be honest with my coaches, teachers, parents and teammates.
I pledge to be supportive of anyone who gets a concussion.
The ThinkTaylor pledge encapsulates the goals of Concussion Awareness Week. It’s not just about the recognition of traumatic head injuries, it’s about building a culture.
“We’re all advocating for player safety,” said Dr. George Chiampas, U.S. Soccer Chief Medical Officer. “The game of soccer is probably one of the best outlets for youth sports. It’s our responsibility as a federation to make sure that we can put all the parameters around it to keep it safe. That is by first and foremost, building a culture. It’s ok to come out of a game. It’s ok to take a step back and put the most important priorities first.”
U.S. Soccer, Recognize to Recover, presented by Thorne and ThinkTaylor will partner from Sept. 1-11 for Concussion Awareness Week. As millions of players, coaches and referees kick off their seasons across the country, constructing this reformed culture around concussions will be top of mind.
While it’s just the second annual Concussion Awareness Week, U.S. Soccer has long been a leader in player safety. Proper concussion protocols have always stood as a critical responsibility in the National Team set-up. Last year, the first Concussion Awareness Week brought those standards to the country’s highest level of youth soccer, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Now, the program will reach out to everyone involved with the Federation nationwide. In addition to outreach through U.S. Soccer member organizations, Concussion Awareness Week will feature during upcoming friendlies for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams.
“Taking the standards from our National Team environment and bringing them to everyone is the goal,” Chiampas said. “It’s always been a pivotal piece there and we want to disseminate the most accurate and quality information across the four million youth players, coaches and referees so that we can say broadly we’re trying to build a culture of safety.”
Part of that nationwide reach comes in the newly-released grassroots coaching courses. Made available online at the Digital Coaching Center on Aug. 23, each level includes a 30-minute video module on player safety, featuring concussion protocol, cardiac arrest, heat guidelines and more. A similar program will be rolled out in referee licensure programs in the near future.
“Every coach and eventually every referee that is licensed in the U.S. will go through this module. We are really excited about this platform,” Chiampas said. “We can now say broadly across the country, regardless of what state your child plays in, that every coach has taken this safety module. By that mechanism, we’re leaders with regards to soccer safety in the United States and hopefully in the world.”
While every coach and referee across the country will eventually have gone through the player safety module, the ThinkTaylor pledge helps players contribute directly to a more effective concussion awareness culture. U.S. Soccer first partnered with ThinkTaylor last fall, as the Development Academy’s 17,000 players were encouraged to take the pledge. This year, the pledge will reach millions more across the country through U.S. Soccer member programs like AYSO, U.S. Youth Soccer and U.S. Club Soccer.
ThinkTaylor is the passion project of former U.S. Men’s National Team player Taylor Twellman. Concussions cut the forward’s career short, and he launched ThinkTaylor to spread awareness of traumatic brain injuries. The pledge’s three pillars: to be educated, honest and supportive aim to bring about social change in the world of concussions.
“It’s a mechanism for us to be able to engage with our players and our coaches broadly,” Chiampas said. “They’re pledging to protect themselves, protect their teammates and protect their players in and around this injury. When you’re a player or when you’re a coach, in that moment, you may not want to come forward and say, ‘I think I’m having some of the symptoms’ because you’re in the moment of playing. As a player, it’s ok to come forward and say, ‘Hey I don’t feel right.’”
U.S. Soccer has continued to grow its concussion awareness campaigns, but the federation has consistently been a global leader in the field. In 2015, Chiampas and his staff introduced groundbreaking heading initiatives for younger players, designed to limit risk in aerial challenges, one of the game’s most dangerous situations. The directives put the focus on purposeful headers, situations where a player sees the ball, properly protects them self, gets in good position and completes the play with good form.
“A vast majority of head injuries that occur in soccer occur on aerial challenges: two players going up for a ball, hitting heads, elbow to head, shoulder to head, or head to ground,” Chiampas said. “If we protect those players, especially at a young age, and decrease incidence of those collisions, we therefore indirectly will decrease the incidence of concussions at an age that may be vulnerable.”
That same year, 2015, marked the launch of Recognize to Recover, a comprehensive player safety program. The first platform of its kind, Recognize to Recover provides a world-class resource of information to improve injury prevention and management. Now, Concussion Awareness Week will trumpet its message nationwide.
“We’re excited with where we’re at, but we also know we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Chiampas said. “We need our players, we need our parents, we need our coaches, we need our referees to engage with us, because we’re all in this together and that’s how we’ll keep our sport safe. It comes with a positive behavior, it comes with an underlying culture and attitude where player safety is first and paramount. If we can build that within our sport here in the United States, we can potentially be a precedent across the world.”Read more
U.S. Soccer, Recognize to Recover, Presented by Thorne, and ThinkTaylor Partner for Concussion Awareness Week
CHICAGO (Aug. 30, 2018) – As U.S. Soccer and ThinkTaylor continue their partnership to promote safe play and reduce injuries in soccer players of all ages, the two organizations will highlight the importance of concussion education during Concussion Awareness Week.
The initiative, which is part of U.S. Soccer’s comprehensive player health and safety program called Recognize to Recover, presented by Thorne, will take place from Sept. 1-11 across the country.
Concussion Awareness Week encourages everyone involved in the game of soccer to take the #TTPledge, an oath for players, coaches, parents and fans to be educated about concussion symptoms, to be honest in self-evaluation and to be supportive of anyone with a concussion.
Visit recognizetorecover.org to fill out a certificate confirming you have taken the #TTPledge.
“After the success of our inaugural Concussion Awareness Week in 2017, we are once again looking forward to the partnership between Recognize to Recover and ThinkTaylor as we continue to connect with all those involved with the game of soccer across the United States about health and safety,” said U.S. Soccer Chief Medical Officer George Chiampas. “An important part of managing concussions is the education around how to identify when a possible head injury occurs and informing parents, coaches and medical staff. We want to change the culture within the game around reporting concussions and that needs to start at an early age."
U.S. Soccer Member Organizations will aid in driving support of Concussion Awareness Week as will the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams. Various pre- and in-game announcements and ceremonies will bring attention to Concussion Awareness Week during the U.S. MNT’s Kickoff Series games against Brazil (Sept. 7) and Mexico (Sept. 11), the U.S. WNT’s World Cup Qualifying preparation games against Chile (Aug. 31, Sept. 4) and the opening weekends of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (Sept. 1-2, 8-9).
Throughout Concussion Awareness Week, players, coaches, parents and fans are encouraged to visit recognizetorecover.org, the U.S. Soccer Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for coverage and information about concussion awareness and player health and safety.
Recognize to Recover, a first-of-its-kind comprehensive program dedicated to safe play and reducing injuries, was launched by U.S. Soccer in 2015. The program was developed with the help of medical experts to provide coaches, players, parents and referees with information, guidance and educational materials to improve the prevention and management of injuries.
Concussion and head injury awareness and prevention are a core part of the program, and in 2016, U.S. Soccer released a new video designed to raise awareness of this important issue and highlight it throughout its coach and referee education programs.Read more