What we know, what we’ve heard about the switch to USCS and the new United Soccer Clubs league.
I wanted to provide a post that would present what information I know and what information I’ve heard but do not necessarily trust about the league changes. This is a big fight going on in the world of South Texas youth soccer. I am posting things I know to be true under the Verified list, Rumors next, and ending with list of possible explanations of why the move. I will include sources where possible and my own commentary in italics. This post will stay on the top of the website until no longer needed. Don’t forget that if you find yourself wondering what some of this material is referring to you can find further details in this article.
15 Clubs from South Texas announced their intent to form a new league (or leagues) under the sanction of US Club Soccer. These 15 clubs are:
- Albion Hurricanes FC (Houston)
- Austin Texans
- Challenge SC (Houston)
- Classics Elite SC (San Antonio)
- Dynamos SC (Houston)
- Eclipse SC (Houston)
- Houston Express SC
- Houstonians FC
- Kingwood Alliance SC (see below)
- Liverpool FC America (Austin/Temple, plus possibly Beaumont?)
- Lonestar SC (Austin)
- Lonestar SC San Antonio
- Space City FC (Houston)
- Texans SC (Houston)
- Texas Rush SC (Houston)
Source: US Club Soccer website 4/30/15
Kingwood Alliance dissolves their competitive soccer program; “sells” teams to Texans and Challenge; becomes Rec-only club. Source: South Texas forums 5/9/15, verified in numerous posts and conversations. Implication: KW Alliance will no longer be a part of the new league.
USYSA reconfigures their Premiere League structure. Gone are the Premiere League West, Central, and East. Now there is a 20-team Southern Regional Premiere League West with teams from STX, NTX, OK, AR, LA, and MS, divided into two 10-team brackets. It looks like this replaces not only the PLW, PLC, and PLE level, but also the higher Southern Regional Premiere League, but that is not made clear. National League still exists. This reconfiguration is cited by many as a major reason for the departure, as many complain that expanding the region increases travel without increasing competition (as teams from AR, LA, and MS are considered not as strong). But if that’s true, why do so many clubs seem to be trying to keep their PLW teams’ slots? Source: USYSA Region III 2015 PLW qualification list, 5/21/15
STYSA/USYSA try to force the hand of clubs/teams that look to be joining new league. STYSA has issued a deadline of May 22 for teams to register AND PAY A BOND to play in either SCL or SRPLW for Fall of 2015. This is more than a month earlier than usual. STYSA is trying to quash the breakaway league by forcing clubs to either: explain in detail to their families what the new league structure will be and the benefits over playing in STYSA (when that structure is not yet known), risk the fury of their families when/if the new league fails or fails to meet expectations and there is no option to return to STYSA leagues.
Western District clubs will not completely break with STYSA. Only SCL/PLW-level teams will play in the new league, while D1, S2, D2 and D3 will stay with STYSA. There is a certain logic to this, as the lower levels in Western District may not want to travel to play, but if they stay in their region most of the teams belong to Lonestars Soccer Club. Why play only each other? Source: South Texas forums, numerous times. But Eastern District is looking for a more complete break.
STYSA will not allow teams from clubs who join the new league to play in USYA sanctioned leagues (ie they will forfeit their SRPLW and SCL slots). STYSA seems with their language to be encouraging teams to flee their clubs, saying that a TEAM (ie the players of a team) earns a spot in a league, not the clubs. But the converse is not true—a team can lose a spot in a league due to the club they play for. I’ve heard that some clubs not part of the new league structure are actively recruiting entire teams to move to them from their previous clubs based on this issue. Thus STYSA threatens the club if parents get upset that their children will not be able to play at the level they’ve earned they may pack up and depart en masse.
STYSA will no longer allow EDDOA to exist. Specifically, this: “but you left out the good part [of the EDDOA meeting] when Mr. Delay the STYSA President suprised [sic] everyone stating that the EDDOA gaming league would no longer be the qualifying league for any of STYSA’s competitions (SCL, Premier League, cup play) and STYSA would now directly administer the competitive league in the east for U11-U18 in collaboration with the Houston Dynamo and Dash. Details to follow in a couple of weeks. Guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too. And be careful, you might not be the biggest fish in the pond.” But why would they partner with Dynamo/Dash? Their academies play in USCS. Not sure of the value here to either side. Source: South Texas forums post, 5/20/15
North Texas and Oklahoma are considering a move to US Club Soccer leagues as well. If not for the 2015-16 seasons, then the following year. Source: South Texas forums, numerous times. This is hard to ascertain. No one who claims this cites any evidence whatsoever. There is no hint of this in the USCS statement, nor on the North Texas or Oklahoma Youth Soccer websites (unlike STYSA which acknowledges the conflict on its website), nor even anything obvious on the North Texas forums. But there have been a few hints I’ve seen on those forums, suggesting that the “monopoly” (of league structure) will soon be challenged.
So Why Leave?
- The new SRPLW. Some have argued that the new structure (see above) greatly increases the travel burden while reducing the quality of competition. The new league would be just South Texas, or South Texas, North Texas, and Oklahoma only.
- Poor management by STYSA. I have recently seen decisions made, much to the detriment of low-level players, whose only conceivable explanation is maximizing revenue. I’m sure if I’m seeing this, there’s much more to be seen by those who run the clubs.
- Unfair Rules that seem to protect the biggest, most powerful clubs. Clubs being allowed to retain high-league positions even after the players who earned that leave to play in US Developmental Academy leagues (they can dual-roster the players as the USSDA is US Club Soccer sanctioned). Small league sizes (why is State Classic league and each level of Division 1 only 6 teams?). Promotion/relegation playoffs. (Why should teams not promote and relegate automatically. Instead, not only is there a playoff, but a TWO GAME playoff. This seems designed to protect the big clubs, and the dual-rostered teams.)
- Poor Behavior and cheating by very small clubs and independent teams. Some have argued that STYSA has been too lax in dealing with cheating, especially in terms of player eligibility, with player age being a big issue. There has also been poor behavior, ranging from ranking teams as weaker than they are so they can beat up on other teams, to withdrawing from competitions or adding to competitions so late that advance scheduling becomes impossible.
- Officiating. There are concerns that the officiating is still not what it should be. Part of that may have to do with accountability, but part may also have to do with more stringent control of sideline behavior (poor behavior from coaches/players/parents towards referees causes high referee turnover). Update 5/22: I’ve heard from a Texans coach that the new league will have coaches submit evaluations of referees after each game.
- More control of game scheduling and location. The clubs struggle with schedules that require their trainers to be in widely separated locations without the time to do so. The effect for us may mean both games played closer to where we live (including Express fields), and having our trainer able to attend more of our games).
- Club enrichment. Some argue the clubs just want to force more of the independents into their ranks, by not allowing independent teams to play in the league. Of course, this doesn’t account for the girls side, where there are few if any independent teams.
- Club embarrassment. Some argue the clubs don’t like being embarrassed by losing to teams from very small clubs and independent teams. Now they won’t have to play them. I disagree with this notion, which suggests that parents get upset when they spend a lot of money and their teams get beaten by teams coached by volunteers. Tournaments will still exist, and those teams will still defeat club teams. Also, only applicable to boys side.
- Racism. Some have claimed the big clubs are racist and don’t want to have to play the heavily Hispanic independent teams. I find this hard to believe. Looking around our age group, I see a very diverse club, with kids of lots of different ethnicities and economic backgrounds. Our club VP is Hispanic, and is passionate about raising funds to provide scholarships to players who otherwise couldn’t afford to play. I can’t believe this is an issue for our club.