The Maryland Developmental Soccer League (MDSL) Fall 2022 season is set to kick-off September 10th at the Sandy Spring Friends School. The league will enter its 2nd season following its inaugural spring 2022 season where it featured three clubs: Sandy Spring SC (SSSC), Aspen Hill SC (AHSC), and Elite Soccer Youth Developmental Academy (ESYDA) all founding club members. The league will feature four age groups this season from U-7, U-8, U-9/10, and U-11/12. Teams will have the option to choose co-ed, boys only, and girls only divisions however with the league being fairly new it may consolidate the divisions. The growth of the league in a matter of months is exponential from season one that only featured one U-8 age group.
The league began as an idea between the Executive Directors of SSSC, AHSC, and ESYDA to help resolve various issues that it pinpointed with current leagues and the overall soccer landscape in the state of Maryland. So the clubs decided to meet to resolve three main issues:
- The high costs of leagues in Montgomery County for recreation teams that do not have large budgets. League costs range anywhere between $650 – $1600 in youth soccer.
- Driving to the northwestern part of Montgomery county for recreational level players to play in highly expensive leagues vs. competition that they can get in their own backyard. Both AHSC and ESYDA had been traveling to Gaithersburg and Germantown for their recreational level teams to play, so the clubs wanted to cut down on travel expenses and time.
- Follow US Youth Soccer guidelines with focus on development over winning. USYS has created strict guidelines that it wants its members to follow but many local clubs haven’t followed them over the years.
The clubs believed that if they could focus on resolving these three issues that they could attract other like-minded clubs and teams to come together and it has worked. The league considers itself as a bridge for teams transitioning from recreation to competitive with the main focus on player development. The MDSL’s expectation is for all of the coaches to teach their teams how to play the right way. The league prides itself on not being a league where you will find U-10 recreational level players playing 11 v 11 on a 40 x 60 yard field with 8 x 24 goals and a size 5 ball, rather a league where U-10 players play 7 v 7 with a size 4 ball on 6 x 18 goals. The latter format provides players with more touches on the ball. At the younger levels, the MDSL also features 3 v 3, 4 v 4, and 5 v 5 options, with again emphasis on touches on the ball. The MDSL also allows 2 players who are not quite ready to play in their age group to play down, this will help those players to build up their confidence to eventually return to their age group.
The league is also very affordable with prices between $400-$450 which is 25%-75% less than the price of other youth soccer leagues in the county. With this major price decrease, the MDSL chooses not to focus on profits but rather on player development that will set the teams in the clubs on a path for long-term success. The affordable price will also encourage clubs to enter more teams in the league, thus helping the clubs to build their programs.
According to MDSL’s Acting Commissioner Justin Reid, “We wanted to provide a platform for each club/team to prepare for the long-term. Every club in the league either already has a travel/competitive level program or will soon have a competitive level program so this league was created to help the clubs with that transition. There is one other league/club who provides this opportunity in the county, but in my mind they are not a true bridge to travel. They have an endless amount of players and their focus remains on quantity, but they aren’t truly focused on player development. Eventually we want to cap the number of clubs in the MDSL and continue to place emphasis on player development helping to make us the pre-eminent youth soccer developmental league in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.”
Reid continued, “We also wanted to give the power back to the clubs. Unlike some of the other leagues in the area, the clubs/teams can wear their club branded uniforms. Another special perk that we have for clubs who join our league is that they can sell their club merchandise on our online league store.”
For the upcoming fall season, in addition to SSSC, AHSC, and ESYDA, the league has added Olney United/Little Soccer Stars, Rockville Olney Soccer Academy (ROSA), and LM Football Club (LMFC). All league games will be played at the Sandy Spring Friends School, a beautiful 140 acre campus located in Sandy Spring, MD. There are four soccer fields on campus that the league will access and games will be held on Saturdays and Sundays. The league will provide a tournament style feel and encourage families of the players to come on out and experience the one the field and off the field activities of the league. In the future, it will add various activities for spectators including vendors and much more. With the Adventure Park next to the facility, the SSFS campus has everything in one place to host what the leaders of the MDSL believe will be the best youth soccer developmental league in the DC, MD, VA region.