So how did we do? It’s not such an easy question to answer, but here’s what I understand in the simplest presentation possible.
To understand where we ended, first you have to understand the levels of play. The United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) oversees all that our kids do, and they divide the country up into 4 regions as shown below:
The USYSA also runs the National League, consisting of the top 16 teams for each gender and age group in the country. The process of qualifying to this level is rather confusing (you can read about it here) so I will ignore it for now, except to note that for the teams a year ahead of us 7 of the 16 came from our region.
Our region, Region III, runs an 8-team (for each gender/age level) league known as the Southern Regional Premiere League (SPL), which starts at U15 (U14 teams compete to qualify for it the next year). The teams for this league are chosen from the sub-regions of Region III: 3 each from West (Oklahoma, North Texas, and South Texas) and East (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) and 2 from Central (Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama). Each of those sub-regions runs a next-level down league known as the Premiere League West (or Central or East), which starts at U14 (and the best U14 teams then move up the next year to the SPL). Our Premiere League West (PLW) is a 12-team league for each gender and age group, choosing 4 teams from each of the state associations in its area (Oklahoma, North Texas, and South Texas). Below that, our South Texas association runs its highest level league, the State Classic League (SCL), a 6-team league chosen from the best teams from Eastern District and Western District that do not qualify for higher play. Below that you have Division one play, which is run by either the Eastern District Division One Association (EDDOA), or the Western District Division One Association (WDDOA). They currently have 2 levels, classic and competitive, each with 6 teams per gender/age level (though see below for changes there). Below that is the Super 2 level, which despite being lower than Division One and segregated into East and West is actually run by the South Texas Youth Soccer Association (STYSA). Last year the Super 2 had 18 teams. And then below that you have Divisions 2 and 3, which are run by the local associations (for most Express families they are familiar with Houston Youth Soccer Association, HYSA, which ran the leagues our kids played in for their U9 and U10 years, but in the Greater Houston area there are many others, such as Bay Area (BAYSA) which Space City and South Belt play in, Timberline (TYSA) where northern teams like Rush play, and even others.
So at the end of the Fall season EDDOA and WDDOA each sent their top 6 teams to compete in a process that is called SCL qualifying, though it is actually also PLW qualifying. Those 12 teams (including our Navy team) played each other this spring season with the top 4 qualifying for PLW their U14 year, while the next 6 qualify for SCL. The bottom 2 are sent back to whichever Division One Association they came from. All of this was done without geographic reference, which meant that we had to root for all EDDOA teams to qualify for higher level play, otherwise 1 or 2 might drop back down to our Division One Association and push everyone else further down the ladder.
So this is how the season ended, with rankings for all SCL-qualifying teams, along with all EDDOA teams.
So the good news is that both the bottom teams from SCL-qualifying were WDDOA teams, which meant that we have more slots for other levels. Going into the start of our Spring season, this is what I thought it would look like (key at the bottom), assuming both teams kicked out of SCL would be WDDOA teams, and that the bracketing for our U14 year (number of teams at each level) would be the same as it was this year.
But Mike Matter (trainer for Navy) kept telling me he didn’t think there would be 18 teams for Super 2 our year, that they’d had 12 each year in the past and he didn’t think it would stay at 18. At first I thought it was paranoid of him to say that, but he was insistent, so finally I emailed the man who runs Super 2. The news was not good. Not only would there be only 12 teams in Super 2 our U14 year, but that only 10 of them would come from EDDOA (the other 2 slots are offered to the winner and runner-up of the Fall Division 2 championships). Suddenly we had lost 8 slots, and qualifying for Super 2 looked very difficult:
Then I called Arthur, the man who runs EDDOA. I had called for another administrative matter but I was curious how they would handle the issues of Super 2 qualification considering they moved Tigres 01 Houston into our bracket mid-season and chose to have an unbalanced schedule (Tigres plays only 7 games, 4 teams play only 10, and 7 play 11 games). If only some teams from C bracket would qualify for Super 2, how would they decide what was a fair ranking? His response was actually surprising. He wasn’t worried about it. He didn’t understand why Super 2 wanted to drop back to having only 12 teams, but as he said, “If STYSA (who runs Super 2) doesn’t want them, we’ll take them.” He clarified, saying their plan was to increase their Division One from 12 teams in two brackets to 18 teams, either in two brackets of 9,
or 3 brackets of 6.
Either way we should be safe in Super 2, facing mostly teams familiar to us from C bracket, and ready to try to do even better next year and finish high enough to qualify for Division 1.
So it looks like we will be playing in Super 2 next year, against all the other U13 teams from our C bracket, and in addition the bottom-place U13 team from B bracket, Texas United FC Leones Gold 01B, and the top team from D bracket, North Channel Mustangs 01B Red. They will also offer two slots to the Division 2 Fall Championship finalists, Lamar Chivas and Lake Jackson BYSA United. If they don’t accept (and one or both may not), then Texas Rush Nero 00/01B and Space City FC 01B would be next in line (both teams we beat last season).
So I was thinking about our opponents, and thinking we should feel comfortable against them, and then I had the thought that we had only lost to U12 teams. So I put together a chart of how each team in our bracket did against only U13 teams. It was quite interesting:
Seems like we’ll be in good position to finish in a promotion position next year.
There is one other thought that may alter my tables a bit, and that is whether EDDOA will move teams between brackets before creating the new brackets. If that happens, it could alter things a bit. But I think we are likely to be Super 2 no matter what.