Is it time for college soccer to catch up with the rest of the world?
Aug 18, 2014 3:44 AM EDT
“Influential Indiana University coach Todd Yeagley backs proposal for split college soccer schedule”, a heading soccer fans across the nation may have encountered in recent weeks. The importance of college soccer and its role in developing the next generation of soccer talent has come under great scrutiny in the wake of the recent heroics of the national team in Brazil.
The college soccer schedule has long since adhered to a fall schedule that commenced in August and often culminated in November, with the nation’s elite competing in the national championships latter stages which concluded in December. Once the spring season begins, soccer players are resigned to a schedule of tireless amounts of conditioning and low key scrimmages.
The proposal to prolong the soccer season through the duration of the academic year and beyond (August-June) certainly has its advantages. Players would be involved in a schedule that mirrored other parts of the globe in which soccer remains a primary sport. The fall schedule at present often involves two games a week, preventing sufficient time for physical and mental recovery. By extending the season, one game a week will become the norm, allowing coaches to spend more time developing their player’s skill set and tactical understanding as a result of the increased time spent with them during practice.
The quality of games would improve as a result of increased practice and recovery time. Players will also have the opportunity to devote more time to academic commitments having previously had to juggle travelling up to twice a week with their work in the classroom.
The domino effect caused by this change in schedule could prove to be a disadvantage as well as a rather intriguing ordeal. The string of collegiate athletic associations that govern college soccer would need to work in conjunction with the MLS to devise a strategy to amend the possible conflict between the draft (January 16-21), the commencement of the MLS season and the college spring season.
The USL and NASL leagues will also need to take in to consideration how the proposed change in schedule will impact the ability to recruit players from the collegiate level. Professional development leagues such as the PDL and NASL alike, notorious for their reliance upon college talent, would surely need to search elsewhere to fill team rosters.
Whether the proposal is approved will rely heavily upon the approval of other "influential" coaches and their ability to sway the opinions of an already obstinate organization in the NCAA.