What do all those logo’s mean?

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01 Jul What do all those logo’s mean?

Have you ever wondered what all those logos are at the bottom of the web page of your soccer clubs website?

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Well, today I am going to attempt to explain it and by doing so I may be able to explain some of the off the field drama we go through every year.

Those logos represent the different youth soccer organizations kids in the United States can be associated with. Your club is a part of one or more of those organizations and posts these images to show you who they are associated with.

I’ll explain, let’s start from the top with a little graphic organizer. (BTW, to keep things simple we are only going to look at youth soccer.)

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At the top of the soccer organizational bodies is FIFA. This is the international governing body and hosts the world’s biggest soccer tournament, the World Cup.

FIFA recognizes United States Soccer Federations (USSF) as the soccer organization governing soccer for the United States. Until recently, USSF was not really involved in youth soccer. Their only concern was the US National team and for nearly 40 years the USSF left all youth soccer in the hands of 3 “affiliated” organizations.

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The first and oldest is the AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) which was founded in 1964 in California and currently has about 500k players apart of its organization. The AYSO is primarily recreational focused and is founded on the principles that everyone plays and teams are balanced.

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Second, there is the SAY (Soccer Association for Youth) established in 1967 in Ohio and currently boasts about 100k players.  This organization is also primarily recreational based, but in 2014 began a “premier program”.

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Third, is US Youth Soccer, the largest of the youth soccer programs in the US with 3 million youth soccer players. Established in 1974 USYS has expanded to 55 state organizations, most commonly known here in Florida as the FYSA. USYS runs several programs and leagues you are familiar with including, but not limited to, ODP, TOP Soccer, State Cup and, in Florida, the FSPL. USYS considers itself a competitive and recreational youth soccer organization.

But here is where things get good. Until 2001 these guys (above) ran everything, but some people didn’t think they were doing enough and to make a long story short, along came US Club Soccer…

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US Club Soccer is one of the new guys, established in 2001 to try and meet the needs of the expanding competitive market and to eliminate the bureaucracy of state organizations like the FYSA. Originally intended to be a lobbying group, they expanded when they found much of their efforts ignored. This is the group that runs leagues like the ECNL, NPL, State Championships, id2 and, as of 2017, ENPL (think ECNL for boys).

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Wow, what a busy and confusing world we play in…

As if all that was not enough in 2007 the USSF finally decided it wanted a piece of the 2.2 billion dollar youth soccer pie and came out with US Development Academy (DA).  Think of this as their own “in house” organization. Everyone else was only affiliated with USSF, DA is USSF. This is the new guy and like all things new is currently creating the most buzz.


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Next, is the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), also affiliated with the USSF, organized in 1968 with a focus on softball, but expanded to soccer in 1998 and currently has 3.7 million youth players, of all sports, in its organization. USSSA is striving to be the biggest youth sports organization in America. In Florida, the USSSA is not a major player, yet.

Each of the organizations above are not mutually exclusive, except DA, meaning you can play for USYS and US Club Soccer and USSSA all at the same time and many of you do, as the screenshot above suggests. Most people don’t even play attention, they just show up and do what they are told. Also, as you can imagine, youth soccer is super confusing and this post, as good as it is, still doesn’t include every possible organization your child could play for!


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Finally, there are youth soccer programs NOT affiliated with USSF and by extension FIFA (after all they don’t own soccer), the two biggest is the NCAA and NFHS. The NCAA along with NAIA and the NJCAA is college level soccer and include about 100k soccer players. The NFHS is the governing body for high school soccer with over 8ook soccer players. Because These two organizations do not affiliate with USSF, it can cause friction between them and the USSF. (Ever wonder why USSF does not to want kids to play high school or college, it’s partly because they are not affiliated and get none of the money you spend there. Bottom line is, they have no jurisdiction when it comes to high school or college sports.)


As a guy with a BS in Marketing, I can tell you all the premiere this or elite that is nothing more than marketing pushed to you by the different organizations to get you to pay to have your kid play!!! Clubs or league don’t make great players, players make clubs and leagues great!

PS: Incase you are wondering… Coaches make great players, so wherever you find great coaching PLAY!

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