National U14-U18 club championships: new format needed

I complained about this last year when a game finished 18-1. It’s now gone a step nuttier. This morning an Alberta U16 girls team beat the U16 rep from the Yukon 21-0.

How and why does this happen? Well, when you make groups of three with two strong teams and a very weak team and tell them that only one will advance to the semi-finals, it doesn’t take them long to figure out that if the two strong teams tie each other, it comes down to goal difference to decide who goes through

UPDATE: I’m not sure if this makes it much better but I see now that the top two teams in each group of three go forward to a quarter final round while the third place teams all meet in another round robin. If this is the case then it must have been clear to the Alberta team that goal difference was of no consequence…yet they felt the need to fill the net 21 times. The only advantage first place gives you is that you get to place a second place team from another group in the quarter finals.

As some of you can see from the link above, Richmond’s own Red Hot Selects, coached by occasional MMCB commentor Clive Clark is the other team in this group. They play Yukon tomorrow and know that unless they at least match the 21 goals that Alberta put on the board today, Alberta can play for a tie and go through while they will be out. Those girls didn’t travel to Lethbridge to go out on goal difference so they’re put in the position of having to inflict another beating on the Yukon.

There simply has to be a prelim round for this tournament. Let the champions from weaker provinces and territories play against each other with the winner advancing to play against the other provinces. These blowouts do no one any good.

A second solution is to cap goal differences at five. Seed the teams heading in based on historical records so that you have a very good chance of being able to schedule the two teams most likely to advance to play each other last. If they are tied at the end of their games (on points and goal difference based on the five goal cap), have them either play a mini game or go to penalties. Not the most elegant solution but is there a worse solution than setting up a group of kids for two games where their opponents are racing to score as many goals as possible against them after coming 2500km to play.

U16 girls scores here

UPDATE: it gets worse in the U14 boy division. Ontario beat Yukon 22-0 while BC beat NWT 19-0.

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23 Responses to National U14-U18 club championships: new format needed

  1. K says:

    22-10! Are you sure this isn’t the NFL? How ticked were the ONT coaches that they conceded 10 goals!???

    This championship is a farce in all the ways you described above. Shame. Could be great. There should be an A and B pool like in the World Junior Hockey Finals.

  2. Fred Cutler says:

    You guys are wasting your time. Last time I checked NWT and Yukon and Nunavut were NOT PROVINCES. What is the point of national competitions that are based around jurisdictions that, in the case of provinces, vary by a factor of 100?
    The combined population of NWT, Yukon, and Nunavut is half the population served by Gregor’s club, Vancouver United FC.
    The whole thing too laughably infantile to waste time writing about. Mea culpa.
    An A and B pool is a silly solution to an even sillier problem.
    The solution is to include Yukon in BC, NWT in Sask, and Nunavut in PEI.
    Oh, and my money’s on New Brunswick to win it all this year.

  3. Gregor says:

    Fred’s still mad that we think that long ball goal the other day was great… 😉

    I think this works: Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Santa’s Workshop and the next bottom three or four from the previous year’s competition play down so that one team joins the other six or seven provinces. Get it to eight teams, play a knockout format based on seedings and add consolation rounds so everyone gets at least three games. Three games in five days is as much as anyone should be expected to play.

    • K says:

      Your idea is better than the A-B pool idea I had. Yes, seed the teams and have knockout/consolation. Yes, there should be qualification games or a B pool.

      Yes, Fred’s just annoyed! 🙂

      Somehow I doubt the teams want to win 22-0. I remember winning a game easily 4-0 once and one boy asked “do we have to play them again, that was boring.”

  4. Colin Elmes says:

    yes but the periodization I am sure is spot on

    • Rasta says:

      Yes, BC Soccer and CSA have always slammed the club for not implementing (let me get my mouthwash) a periodization segment.

      But they plan a National, that’s right, a National tournament where a team plays five 90 minute games in five days.

      Much credit to my 13 players who played hard for five days in a row and came out of this with no injuries save for a neck cramp from sleeping crooked on a pillow.

      The girls did well.

      • Gregor says:

        Hi Rasta/Clive, I’d really like to hear more of your impression of Nationals in terms of what you liked, didn’t like and any suggestions you’d have to make it better. It really is a strange format/process to determine national champions in youth age groups.

        And having played in Lethbridge many times with UBC, and knowing how windy it can be, how much do you think the location played a role in the results?

  5. Fred Cutler says:

    Not annoyed anymore after you guys and the blogosphere gave me a place to vent. 😉
    Could easily be regional like CIAU football.

  6. Colin Elmes says:

    they rested for 4.2 minutes in between goals

  7. DJones says:

    I’m starting to question the purpose of this tournament. Are the best teams there? Are you telling me that the best team in Saskatchewan is better than the 4th best team in Ontario? Probably not.

    The ‘top’ teams in Oregon like Westside Metros and FC Portland have a refreshing view. They see the US national tournament as just that – a tournament. They don’t compete at state-run cups leagues anymore (they play in the rebel Oregon Premier League run by the clubs). Instead, they forgo the regional and national tournaments and use the money they would have spent on attending these ‘champions’ tournaments by entering better tournaments like Surf Cup, Disney, Dallas etc… where they compete against teams that are just as good were they are guaranteed entry.

    They also know that they are not going to come across teams that they will bounce 21-0.

    • Colin Elmes says:

      its always been like that forever at all levels in our natl championships.

      rebel league…..hmmmmm. note to self

      • K says:

        I am basically counting the days to see if enough teams step-up and try to enter the SYL, that didn’t make the BCPL, to be honest. Can think of 5 large enough clubs for that…but maybe all the clubs wouldn’t have a team at each age group…not that all the teams over the last few years did as well.

  8. Crafty says:

    Hopefully with the new BCSPL format we can hope for a better showing moving forward at Nationals. Out of the six youth teams that represented we had two Bronze and four 5th place teams.

  9. Crafty says:

    I read your article and clearly we have some issues to address at the youth level. I believe if everybody gets behind the new BCSPL format it will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our current standings in relation to the other Provinces for future National Championships. I don’t think you will be getting out your abacus next year, as this will take time, but I would like to be optimistic and say by 2014.
    Hopefully by that that time, most of the critics would be on side and ALL the best players are playing within the new elite youth development model. That is completely up to us as a Province to decide and only time will tell.

    • Colin Elmes says:

      Let me spin this in a different way. Rather than getting players and parents to “get behind” and “on side” with this new BCPL, how about this:

      BCPL needs to “attract” soccer customers with a “superior product” that shows “value for the money” then ALL the best players “may” choose to purchase what the BCPL is selling.

      Putting the onus on the customer to just fall into line is completely wrong and is from the old world of district boundaries and captive audiences.

      As well, with the current level of cost for this BCPL product, waiting until 2014 to see a change that you have described(results at Nationals) is certainly giving this user pay model an extremely wide berth.

      The league has entered into a very different model and their approach to the soccer consumer and the language used (buy in, get behind, on side) must change.

      • Gregor says:

        Just as I often say that a large part of my job as a TD is coach development so that we can leverage the abilities of a more knowledgeable coach to work with players, I’d say I agree with K that the key is now try to educate parents so they know what they should be looking for in a product.

        If we could get more parents to understand what the development process entails and what we’re trying to get to in terms of technical and tactical knowledge rather than presenting a “product” that wins through physicality, exhibits no decision making and takes no chances and having uneducated parents NOT choose that just because it “wins”, we’d be making progress.

        It’s not so much that the customer (parent) needs to fall into line and accept BCSPL, it’s that BCSPL needs to (a) make a clear break from other levels of play in terms of intent behind the development and (b) needs to present a parent education component to their programming, as Colin says he does with TSS parents, so they understand that there is a long term commitment to their kids’ soccer abilities and intellect and it’s going to entail enduring some ‘mistakes’, goals against losses and general growing pains.

        I posted the story about Nationals to really just highlight the flaws in a structure that allows teams to play each other and have a 21 goal difference. I don’t think for a second that it’s any sort of true barometer for comparing how well BC does against other Provinces. Five games in five days is a crapshoot to a large degree and while the best team may indeed win a lot of the time, the format (and often the weather) conspire against allowing players to demonstrate their real ability and you often end up with a compromised tournament that doesn’t demonstrate who the best teams really are.

        I’d really hesitate to use tournaments like this as the measuring stick by which we judge BCPL.

      • Rasta says:

        Totally agree.

        Buy in or else we won’t let you play at the Nationals unless you are with us. We will just make some rule changes.

        By the way is winning a Gold at Nationals is now the new litmus test for whether the BCSPL is a good entity?

  10. Crafty says:

    “And if “ifs” and “ands” were pots and pans, there be no need for Tinkers.!.

    All I was saying is, that “IF” the BCSPL is a success, I would hope we would see an improvement in Provincial representation at National Championships from BC.

    That’s it. Please do not read any more into it than that.

    • K says:

      For me, BCSPL is a success if – not in a particular order – (a) u16 Whitecaps and u18 Whitecaps are full of BCSPL players, (b) BC universities show a large degree of success and/or a lot of BC athletes can get American scholarships, (c) the men’s sides continue to get good results (though this isn’t particularly critical), (d) the PDL teams consistently finish near the top of their conference, (e) Yes, the boys and girls do well at nationals, (f) PTP does well in all competitions, and finally (g) increased % of players from BC fill the national teams and/or move overseas for European play.

      For me – the university aspects and Whitecaps youth would be the more tenable barometres.

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