As the end of the year fast approaches, the MDSL is celebrating the conclusion of its first official year. After starting the league in the spring of 2022 with just 3 teams, the league grew to 28 teams by the fall and has set its sights on greater expansion as it continues to search for coaches who place player development over winning. Development is a term that is used frequently in youth soccer circles, but the MDSL believes that it has a different approach to the term with heavy emphasis placed on the quality of coaches that it looks to attract to the league. The league is also not afraid to not invite coaches back as it has decided to remove two teams who the league believes are not a good fit for the league.
According to Acting Commissioner Justin Reid who chooses to keep the names of the teams who were dismissed anonymous, “We want to be a league that stands on its principles and values. It is important for us to provide a platform where the teams are competitive because competition makes us all better, but we will not sacrifice that competitive spirit to accommodate teams who do not fit the league’s approach to competition and development. There are other leagues in and around the MD, DC, VA area that those teams can be members of and we wish them all the best.”
Due to the lessons learned this past season, the league is looking forward to implementing new changes to the spring of 2023 ranging from a change in the duration of the game, to forfeit bonds, etc. See the changes below:
- Divisions: The league will no longer consist of a variety of teams at different levels. Starting in 2023 (for the futsal league beginning in January too) there will be an MDSL Recreation and MDSL Classic division. The league plans to expand on divisions in the future as the teams become more competitive.
- Public scores: Will be recorded for U-9 teams and up across all divisions. Keeping scores we have determined is part of development, however, we want to still ensure that teams are playing the game to play the right way and not to just kick the ball aimlessly to win games.
- Game formats: U-6/U-7 will remain 3 v 3, U-8 will move from 4 v 4 to 5 v 5 including goalkeepers, U-9 – U-12 will be 7 v 7, and we have added a U-13 age group to play 11 v 11. This format aligns with some of the other leagues nearby and when helps teams to prepare for tournaments with a similar format.
- Build out lines: Last season build out lines were used sparingly during U-6/U-7 and U-8 games. The build out line will now be extended to U-9 – U-12. We want our league to continue to follow US Soccer guidelines but we also want to add pieces to the rules from overseas as well. Expanding to U-9 – U-12 has been used in Europe and South America and we will add it to our league as well.
- Referees and Game Managers: Last season, we had referees for most of the U-9 – U-12 games but for the spring we want to ensure that we have referees for the entire season. Therefore, we will provide referee training for people interested in becoming a referee. We will use the winter futsal season to recruit more referees and training will commence in February as we prepare for the start of the spring season in April. Game managers will be used for U-6/7 – U-8 to help the game flow of the games. Coaches will still be allowed to be on the fields to coach the kids through the games.
- Carding: Teams will be required to card all players prior to the start of the season. No carding, no game. Players will not be allowed to have travel players double roster in the Recreation division, however, they can double roster in the Classic division. But teams are only allowed to have up to 2 travel level players on 7 v 7 rosters for U-9 – U-12 and up to 4 travel level players on 11 v 11 rosters for U-13. Clubs in good faith must only double roster players from travel who are among the weaker players on the team.
- Forfeit Bonds: Last season the league dealt with several no-shows and teams showing up late for the start of games. To combat that, the league will enforce a forfeit bond for clubs and individual teams. That bond will be returned at the end of each season as long as the teams fulfill their obligations. For Clubs the bond will be $300 for up to 3 teams, $450 for up to 5 teams, and $850 for up to 10 teams. The bond will be divided among the teams and if a club with 3 teams has one team that doesn’t show up to a game, then $100 will be deducted. For every additional no show regardless of which team, $100 will be deducted, and if the club continues to not show up then the team will be removed from the schedule losing its registration fee, forfeit bond, and that team will not be invited back the following year. For individual teams, the forfeit bond is $200. For teams who show up to the games late or if a game does not start on time, the team will be deducted $50 from their forfeit bond for every game that they are late to arrive. If your forfeit bond is in arrears, meaning a negative balance then your team will be removed from the schedule.
- Game Duration: U-6/7 teams will now move from 10 to 12 minute quarters. With the kids being new to the rules of the sport, we noticed that there was alot of time spent teaching kick-ins, goal-kicks, corners, etc. So by adding the additional 2 minutes per quarter, we provide the kids with more playing time. U-8 will remain 12 minute quarters, U-9 – U-12 will remain 25 minute halves, and U-13 will be 30 minute halves.
These changes will be effective starting April 1, 2023 as we kickoff the spring 2023 season.