Soccer Age Group Definition and Explanation

U.S. Soccer Mandate: Birth Year Change Q&A


What is the ‘U.S. Soccer mandate’ and ‘birth year change’ I keep hearing mentioned? 
 U.S. Soccer has mandated that a player’s soccer team age group will now be determined by the player’s birth year.  Previously, the player’s team was determined by the player’s age on July 31st prior to the fall season.
Beginning with the 2016-2017 soccer year, U8 teams will be made up of players born in 2009, U9 teams will be ‘08 birth years, U10 teams will be ‘07 birth years, U11 teams will be ‘06 birth years and so on. Please reference the birth year matrix below for guidance.


Why is U.S. Soccer making this change?
  In the words of U.S. Soccer, “to be in line with the other 208 countries that register youth players by their year of birth. The change will also make it easier for American club teams to play internationally”.

Have other clubs made the same change?  Yes, our state governing body NJYS as well as the Boys and Girls South Jersey Travel Leagues have adopted the Best Practice Recommendation of US Soccer to implement the birth year realignment in the fall of 2016, so all other clubs in the state must make this birth year age group adjustment.  However, the state and leagues have left it up to the clubs to determine whether they require players to play birth year only or allow players to play up.
How do I know which age group corresponds with my child’s birth year?  Please reference the chart below.

Season 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Birth Year Age Group Age Group Age Group Age Group
2014 U6
2013 U6 U7
2012 U6 U7 U8
2011 U6 U7 U8 U9
2010 U7 U8 U9 U10
2009 U8 U9 U10 U11
2008 U9 U10 U11 U12
2007 U10 U11 U12 U13
2006 U11 U12 U13 U14
2005 U12 U13 U14 U15
2004 U13 U14 U15 U16
2003 U14 U15 U16 U17
2002 U15 U16 U17 U18
2001 U16 U17 U18 U19
2000 U17 U18 U19
1999 U18 U19
1998 U19


Are there any other changes resulting from the U.S. Soccer mandates?
  For travel teams, field and goal sizes as well as roster size and the number of players on the field will be adjusted slightly for some of the youngest age groups per mandated requirements. Age groups U8, U9 & U10 will play 7v7; U11/U12 will be 9v9; and, U13-U19 will remain 11v11.  For our recreation program, US Soccer has mandated that all age groups U8 and younger play 4v4 with no goalies.  We will most likely follow the travel team age group guidelines for the U8 and older recreation teams and go with the 4v4 format for U7* and younger.


So, in summary, what is our guidance on the Birth Year change?  For the 2016-2017 travel year and going forward, our teams will be determined by player’s birth year as mandated by US Soccer and the NJ Soccer authorities.