College Soccer About To Undergo Big Changes?

(Photo By Rich Schulz- Associated Press)

It is a well-known fact that the college soccer system is broken when it comes to developing players. In fact the college soccer system is not utilized by any international soccer powerhouses, or even by any soccer minnows, because of it’s ineffectiveness. Most national teams around the world believe development is better facilitated through club and national team youth teams because it is on those teams that the players can get close attention and learn to play a single unified style. On these youth teams exceptional youth talent can get accelerated in order to better develop players. The current college soccer system does not allow this type of focused attention. Players compete in a shortened fall season with a lot of games crammed into the schedule. Since there is so little time players often have a tough time keeping up with their academic workload while also being more prone to injuries because of so many games being played in close succession. The propensity for injury and lack of development time has led many within the college soccer system, as well as US and MLS soccer officials, to push for a change in the current college soccer schedule. The new proposed schedule would be 10 months with 25 games spread out over that time-span and a winter and summer break. The benefits to this system would include

1. Being able to change the college soccer liberal game rules so as to conform better with the established FIFA rules. Most notably the college soccer system has a liberal sub policy because of the tightly packed schedule but a more spread out schedule would allow them to follow the 3-sub policy enacted by FIFA.

2. A more spread out schedule allows the players more time to develop and focus on their academics.

3. By having the season end in May the College Cup will be able to get more viewership because it won’t have to compete in the crowded winter sports schedule anymore.

4. College teams will be better able to retain talent because they will be less likely to jump into the professional ranks to get more development.

5. Players will get more personal development at college then they would at an MLS team.

There are downsides and problems facing this proposition though. There are many fears that a longer schedule will force colleges to invest more in their soccer teams and in this era of tightening budgets may be the final straw that convinces a college to get rid of their soccer team. There’s also the problem of the MLS draft being in January and the competition for stadiums between the soccer and lacrosse teams during the spring. However, this schedule could be the only thing that saves college soccer and with so little money in MLS it is not a bad idea for future professional MLS players to have a degree on which they fall back on in case they get injured.




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