This past Wednesday, the United States Soccer Federation -- in conjunction with six NCAA men's soccer programs -- announced the launching of a new player development initiative: the Spring College Program.
The goal of this collaborative program (between U.S Soccer and these select colleges) is to provide both further player development opportunities for Division I student-athletes as well as additional opportunities for U.S. Soccer scouts to identify potential U.S. Olympic and national team players. Often criticized for a lack of breadth in its scouting efforts, it seems that the USSF is seeking to introduce more innovative ways to expand the player pool.
Starting next month, the six programs -- a group that consists of traditional powerhouses Duke, Clemson, Georgetown, Virginia, Wake Forest, and North Carolina -- will each host two games before the program culminates with a round-robin tournament hosted at Wake Forest University on April 21. The team with the most points after the three-match event will be crowned champion. Even more importantly, all games will be played under international standards, similar to how the U.S. Soccer Development Academy functions in its implementation of international standards; games will be played with a traditional running clock, a game-day roster of 18 players, and no substitute re-entry.
This announcement came a few days before Carlos Cordeiro was elected as President of the United States Soccer Federation and may serve as a precursor for more changes to come within the landscape of college soccer. Proponents of the new Spring College Program believe that it has the potential to help better connect college soccer to the national team player development pathway, providing scouts with an additional series of opportunities to identify more players.
“We are excited about this program and the role it will play in helping college soccer become more connected to the player development pathway. It provides us with additional opportunities to identify more players for Youth National Teams and for the Olympic Team in an environment that mirrors the international game.” -Tab Ramos, U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director and U-20 Men's National Team head coach
2018 U.S. Soccer Spring College Program Game Schedule
"College soccer serves an important role in the development of soccer players in the United States and I am looking forward to the integration of meaningful FIFA standards into the college game."
-George Gelnovatch (Head Coach, University of Virginia
“We believe this is a positive step to build a closer connection with U.S. Soccer and the college game. A cooperative relationship is exciting and can only help to develop and improve our beautiful game."
-Carlos Somoano (Head Coach, University of North Carolina)
- March 4
- North Carolina v. Clemson
- March 17
- Virginia v. Georgetown
- Clemson v. Wake Forest
- March 24
- Georgetown v. North Carolina
- Duke v. West Virginia
- March 29
- Wake Forest v. Duke
- April 7
- North Carolina v. Virginia
- Clemson v. Duke
- April 8
- Georgetown v. Wake Forest
- April 14
- Duke v. Georgetown
- Virginia v. Clemson
- Wake Forest v. North Carolina
- April 21 (Event Hosted at Wake Forest)
- Duke v. North Carolina
- Georgetown v. Clemson
- Wake Forest v. Virginia
Bold = Home Team
U.S. Soccer is accepting applications from Colleges and Universities for participation in the 2019 Spring Program. While the program lacks competitive incentive for the schools involved, other than bragging rights, college players will be fully invested in the opportunity to display their talent. Stay tuned for more as the Daily Soccer Digest follows these matches.
Author: Nick Woolf