Super Y League
For many years, soccer afficionados in the United States, including the leadership of the United States Soccer Federation, the sports national governing body, have grappled with the issue of player development.
In a country as large as the United States, and with the sport of soccer growing on so many grassroots levels, the task of identifying the best players across America’s 50 states has been a problem, which has been confounding the games experts.
In 1999, United Soccer Leagues (USL) – the largest system of national soccer leagues in America – introduced a program to help solve the dilemma of identifying America’s top young players. The Super Y-League (SYL), a North American youth soccer league for elite level players, began year four in 2002 in an effort to help U.S. Soccer in its quest to put a bead on the top youth players who are best bets to play on the professional level and, possibly, become members of the U.S. National Team.
“This is the final piece to the puzzle of what we have long envisioned as a complete system to help players work their way toward higher levels of play,” said Francisco Marcos, president and founder of the United Soccer Leagues for the past 15 years. “The launching of the SYL is in concert with what we are trying to accomplish at all levels of soccer in the United States – that is, make American players better equipped to move into the national arena,” Marcos added. “It is in direct support of project 2010 and supports ways in which we can accelerate the development of our players.”
Over the past four seasons, the major youth clubs, professional and amateur teams in the United States and Canada have contributed their ideas on providing a league for North America’s top youth players. The SYL pilot season in 1999 began with 16 teams in two major regions of the United States and expanded to 75 teams in five major regions in 2000. Currently there are over 330 teams competing in week in – week out league competition in the 2002 SYL season.
“A lot of clubs took a wait and see approach to the SYL,” said Matt Weibe, Director of the Super Y-League, “Now that they are a part of it and see its capabilities, they want to expand and enhance their individual program. In the past, there has only been one outlet for competition. That has been US Youth Soccer and the state associations. Now that clubs have seen the progress of the SYL, I expect we will nearly complete the national scope in 2003.”
Many professional teams from the MLS, A-League and D3 Pro League, including MLS’s, D.C. United have initiated youth development programs for the elite level players in their area. The scope of the league stretches from as far as Vancouver, B.C., Canada to Miami, Fla., and from Boston, Mass., to Los Angles, Ca.
“The developments over the past few years with professional teams creating opportunities for advanced level player development and the focus of stronger league competition from the major youth clubs have opened many new doors for American soccer,” said Weibe. “Youth programs of first division clubs are something that must be established to advance soccer in this country. The only answer to make soccer stronger that will prevail over any other is the direction that professional soccer takes with youth development. The Super Y-League has proved that it is capable of being the catalyst and competitive outlet for these programs. I expect that the soccer leadership in the U.S. will now focus efforts to move forward with more professional teams creating youth development programs and that the SYL will become the definitive playing ground for the elite level player.”
In 2003 the SYL will expand the scope of the league to Texas, Southern California and the Rock Mountain areas. In addition to expanding the scope of the league, the SYL will also create new programs to enhance player identification, and establish new standards for clubs that will enhance their organization and create higher standards for league competition.
Concorde Fire Football Club
Atlanta – Alpharetta, GA