2016 US Youth Soccer Changes


Overview of US Soccer age-group changes:

The current—and often confusing—August 1 to July 31 “soccer age” will be discontinued, beginning with the 2016-17 cycle. Instead, teams will be organized by player year of birth: 2004, 2005, 2006, etc.  


The primary reason behind this is that the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) decided to move the United States to the global age-group standard. The US already does this at the ODP level, and will now expand this to fully include all of youth travel soccer. This is a 'mandate', meaning that ALL youth soccer clubs MUST comply, without exception.


US Soccer will still categorize age groups with the “Under” designation (example: U9, U10, U11, etc). However, the definition of these categories will change, beginning with the 2016-17 season. This is being done in order to align the definition to the birth year changes.



  • U10 Current Definition: Player must be aged 10 or younger.
  • U10 New Definition: Player must be born in 2007.

Because of the definition change, it will appear to many that their child is skipping a year of travel soccer after the changes go into effect. This is not the case whatsoever! No player will skip a year of soccer due to the definition change.

Hunter Soccer Club (HSC) implementation of mandated age-group changes (Effective 2016-17 cycle):

Because the age group changes go into effect for the 2016-17 season, when HSC travel team tryouts are held in March-April 2016, players will be assigned to age groups by birth year to align with the new standard.


However, HSC recognizes that one of the primary reasons that kids play soccer—at all levels—is the fun and camaraderie of playing with their friends. To that end, HSC has designed the implementation of age appropriate play for the 2016-17 season with the following considerations:


  • Adhere to the developmental intent of the new standards.
  • Stay true to our commitment to age-appropriate play.
  • Allow older, long-established teams to remain together, if desired.


HSC's implementation plan was carefully and thoughtfully constructed starting when US Soccer announced the mandated changes earlier in 2015. Our Travel Soccer Committee spearheaded this plan, consulting with the club's leadership, EPYSA, travel leagues (ICSL, PAGS, Delco), many local soccer clubs, and of course our travel team coaches.


The table below summarizes HSC’s implementation of the USSF birth-year changes (please click on the image to see a larger version):

Implementation plan details:

As part of the implementation of the USSF age-group changes, HSC designates the 2016-17 playing cycle as a Transition Year


U9-U12 Guidelines:

  • Teams with the 2016 re-defined age brackets of U9-U12 will be birth-age pure.
  • Underage players will not be permitted to be rostered on these teams.


U13 Guidelines:

  • Teams with the 2016 re-defined age bracket of U13 are expected to be primarily birth-age pure (born in 2004), but qualified exceptions to be on a U13 team roster will exist for players born in 2005.
    • Qualified Exception Criteria:
    • HSC will follow current EPYSA State Cup roster guidance: Fielded +1 is the baseline, meaning 12 players on a 2016 U13 11 v 11 team must be birth-age pure (born in 2004).
    • The remainder of the player roster (starting at player 13 and up to the roster-size limit of player 18) may include underage players born in 2005.
    • 2005 birth-year Play Up players MUST be rated as starters at tryouts (“Starters” as defined by # field players for the age group. i.e.- top 10 players or the starting goalkeeper)
    • 2005 birth-year players aspiring to play in the 2004 birth-year group MUST try out for their age pure group (U12) AND play up age group (U13), and sign up for both ahead of time.
    • In the event of a player who plays up prevents Hunter Soccer Club’s ability to build an age pure team at that player’s age pure level, then HSC reserves the right to re-slot the player on their proper birth-age pure team. This stays with HSC’s mission of giving EVERY child a chance to play, so long as they attend and pass a tryout.


U14 & Above Guidelines:

  • Teams with the 2016 re-defined age brackets of U14, U15, U16, U17, and U18 will contain birth-age pure players, but may also voluntarily elect to include qualified underage players on their teams.
  • The intent here is to keep HSC's older, longstanding teams together and thereby prolong their longevity.


2016-17 Tryouts:

  • During March and April of 2016, Future Player Academy (FPA) will run tryouts for the 2016-17 playing cycle, and will rate prospective travel players within their age groups.  
  • FPA will not be given prospective player names or birth years.
  • No coaches, assistant coaches, or team managers will be permitted to force any player to play up out of their proper birth year.
  • In the event a player playing up prevents Hunter’s ability to build an age pure team at that player’s age pure level, Hunter Soccer Club reserves the right to re-slot the player on their proper birth-age pure team. This stays with HSC’s mission of giving EVERY child a chance to play, so long as they attend and pass a tryout.
  • Hunter Soccer Club reserves the right to request (but never force) that a player or players play up in order to complete a roster, if and when extenuating circumstances require this. This is also in line with the Club’s mission to give every child a chance to participate.
  • Secondary/guest passes will be issued to fill all empty rosters spaces as required. This will apply for the 2016 re-defined age bracket of U12 and older.
  • This is a one year transition. It is designed to allow the older teams another year to play together and then move on. In 2017-18 travel teams will be 100% age pure from U9-U13, and this will expand naturally as time passes.
Hunter Soccer: 2016 USSF Age Group Mandate Information
This document contains details on the HSC's implementation of the 2016 US Soccer Age Group mandates.
2016 US Soccer Changes.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [143.3 KB]


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