The soccer landscape, how the “pandemic” has affected it and the path forward
To say that Covid -19 and the restrictions and lockdowns measures that followed disrupted life in the United States could easily be the understatement of the century! Every aspect of life as you know it has been turned on its head and spun around until it is hard to recognize anything.
This includes the development of soccer in the United States. Sports of every kind had to postpone or take almost a whole season off, which is unprecedented. Unfortunately, this means that young players who are in their critical developmental years had to take time off when they would have otherwise been honing their skills.
A Double-Edged Sword for
Soccer in the United States
It can be hard to see the potential upside of this situation. The restrictions and public health measures that have been put in place due to Covid-19 have led sports leagues, including MLS (Major League Soccer), to cancel or postpone many games and the beginning of their seasons.
What has most impacted the development of soccer in the United States has been the delays and outright cancelation of soccer programs on college campuses around the country. Attendance restrictions and the resulting lack of revenue has led to the termination of many of these programs. Many of the remaining college soccer leagues that would have played seasons in 2021, didn’t.
This is one edge of the sword. The sharp and unforgiving side. The delayed and postponed seasons cannot be regained and that is unfortunate for the development of the players that are developing in these leagues.
This unexpected and seismic change to the soccer model in the United States brings with it an opportunity to make changes for the good. You may be asking, “What good could possibly come out of a situation like this?”. Great question!
For one, if young soccer players with great potential don’t have any college programs to enroll in, they can skip the college route and go directly into professional soccer. In most other countries around the world, this is what players do. Instead of playing for a college, they go play for a professional club. If this trend continues, colleges that have programs will have to make them more attractive to entice the players to join.
Colleges are also considering changing the structure of their soccer seasons, moving towards a model that resembles those of professional leagues. Changing to a spring and fall season sport has many advantages and it is a move that is encouraged and supported by many in the soccer community. This type of structure gives players more time to train, rest and develop their skills. This is the other edge of the sword, the edge of potential.
Soccer in the United States
What will the future look like?
Desmond Tutu said, “A time of crisis is not only a time of anxiety and worry. It gives a chance, an opportunity, to choose well or choose badly.” Can there be a silver lining to this crisis? The answer is yes. Soccer development in the United States can be better and stronger than if it’s ever been… if we choose wisely.
Upright City is committed to the development of soccer and soccer culture. Are you building a soccer business? Or working to grow the soccer culture and community in your area? Upright City is here to grow with you.