The United States Soccer Federation (US Soccer) announced major changes for youth soccer which will affect travel teams throughout the United States, beginning in August, 2016. The guidelines originated with US Soccer and are being adopted by Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association (EPYSA) and the Inter County Soccer League (ICSL). These changes will impact our 2016‐2017 Travel Team Program, starting with travel team tryouts this spring. This page is intended to explain the changes and how they will affect the Chestnut Hill Travel Team Program.

The biggest modification will be the change to “birth year eligibility.” For the past 25 years, age groups were defined with an August 1st cutoff. For example, in 2015-2016 Under 12 age group teams were comprised of players born between August 1, 2003 and July 31, 2004. Starting with 2016-2017, the age group cutoff switched to January 1st for all age groups.

This change will took place throughout the United States. The main purpose of this change is so that our country uses the same age group classifications as all other countries that play organized soccer.

Tryouts for next year’s travel teams will take place in the spring. Our tryouts will use these new age classifications, as mandated by US Soccer.

Another change mandated by US Soccer will be the number of players on the field for some age groups. Currently, games Under 12 and younger are played 8v8 while games Under 13 and older are played 11v11. Beginning next season, travel team games for Under 10 and younger will be played 7 vs. 7 and played on slightly smaller fields. The Under 11 and Under 12 age groups will play 9 vs. 9. Age groups Under 13 and older will still play full sided 11 vs. 11.

Below is a listing of how the age groups will be determined for the 2017‐2018 season and their game format:

  • Under 9 2009 births 7 vs. 7 games
  • Under 10 2008 births 7 vs. 7 games
  • Under 11 2007 births 9 vs. 9 games
  • Under 12 2006 births 9 vs. 9 games
  • Under 13 2005 births 11 vs. 11 games
  • Under 14 2004 births 11 vs. 11 games
  • Under 15 2003 births 11 vs. 11 games



Most other clubs are implemented without exception. Failure to adopt these changes will have our children playing at a disadvantage against teams that are older. As the children enter the transformative years, it can be a stark difference. Given this consideration, players will be required to tryout for the age group based on their birth year.

Roster sizes for younger age groups will change since U‐12 and younger games will no longer be 8v8. Under 10 teams and younger will have slightly smaller rosters than in previous years since they will now play 7 vs. 7. Roster sizes for Under 11 and Under 12 teams will be slightly larger since they will play 9 vs. 9 instead of 8 vs. 8. Maximum roster sizes have not yet been defined by US Soccer.


  • Chestnut Hill Soccer will be in full compliance with the new changes, starting at tryouts in the spring.
  • Younger age players will not be allowed to tryout for an age group older than defined by their year of birth.
  • If a player wishes an exemption, the player must put in a written request, before tryouts, to the club. Players will only be considered for an exception if:
    • They were in Chestnut Hill’s program prior to these age group changes and
    • The club believes she/he will be one of the top players on the Blue Lightning team in the older age group.
  • The coaching assignments will be made subsequent to tryouts. The age group shift could alter where players and, consequently, our parent volunteer coaches are placed (Blue, White or Black Lightning).
  • As always, tryouts will include independent evaluators. The contributions of these individuals in this transition year will be paramount.
  • Coaches have been asked and are assembling player evaluations as a complement to the tryout process.
  • ALL players wishing to tryout will need to pre‐register.
  • We’re hopeful to get tryouts started earlier this year to ensure thorough evaluations.



1) My child’s best friends are in the older age group, may she/he tryout for the older age group to be with friends? Unfortunately, no. Keep in mind that there will be a whole new set of players at these tryouts, so even if we let players simply play in an older age group, they would not necessarily wind up on the same team as their friends. We will have up to three teams in each age group. Tryouts will determine which team each player makes. Players will need to tryout for the age group corresponding to their year of birth.

2) My child was born on December 31 and is very small. May she/he tryout for the younger age group? No, this is against US Soccer regulations and would be considered cheating. We would be sanctioned and fined by the league if we allowed this. Children born on December 31 are in the same situation children born on July 31 have been in for the past 25 years. There can be no exceptions to this. As with previous years, all players will need to submit a copy of their birth certificate (or passport) to show their birthdate.

3) My child is in 4th grade. All of her classmates are in the next older age group. Can you make an exception, based on her grade? Again, unfortunately, no. Youth soccer never does anything by grade. We realize that the children in the same grade will be in different travel team age groups, but we are required to comply with the changes which will go into effect throughout the United States. Current travel teams have players on the same team who are in different grades so this is not anything new.

4) Why is the club so inflexible about making exceptions? This is NOT a policy made by Chestnut Hill. The policy is made by US Soccer and is consistent throughout the country. In fact, just about every country in the world will be playing by the January 1st cutoff. We are very confident that players making teams next year will get to be good friends with many of their new teammates.

5) Has anything like this ever happened before in youth soccer? Yes, in 1991, US Soccer changed from “year of birth” to the August 1st cutoff. It caused a lot of headaches for people as teams were totally overhauled and new teams were made. It caused a lot of stress in parents. But, by the time the players were on the field and playing in competitive games, people realized that this wasn’t the end of the world, the new teams were able to go forward and harmony was restored. Players got to be good friends with their new teammates and still remained friends with their old teammates who were no longer on the same team. In reality, this was MUCH more stressful for the parents than for the players.

6) Why did US Soccer make that change in 1991? Same reason as now. Back then, the world cutoff date was August 1 so the USA conformed to the August 1 cutoff date to be in synch with the rest of the world. But, several years later, FIFA (the world soccer governing body) changed to a January 1st cutoff and the USA was out of synch with the rest of the world.

7) Why does it matter that the USA has the same cutoff as the rest of the world? This is just kids’ soccer. One of the main objectives of US Soccer is to produce National Teams. This includes our Men’s and Women’s National Teams as well as Under 23, Under 19 on down to our Under 14 National Teams. These teams compete against the national teams from countries all over the world. Our national team system needs clubs to be using the same age group cutoffs as the other countries so they can properly form national teams. Recent players on the US national teams have come from several of the clubs we play against.

8) Will this impact Chestnut Hill Intramural Soccer?

With the changes occurring, it has seemed to be an opportune time to align the Intramural Program’s age groupings with the school cutoffs.  The August 1st cutoff has often split children from their classmates.  Intramural will now operate on a September 1st cutoff.  For example, U8 would be children born between 9/1/2008 and 8/31/2009 for the coming Fall 2016.



EPYSA’s Frequently Asked Questions for the US Soccer Player Development Initiatives.

US Soccer’s Communications Regarding the Initiatives.