Discussion in 'Women's College' started by Soccerhunter, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. Soccerhunter

    Soccerhunter Member+

    Sep 12, 2009
    #1 Soccerhunter, Aug 16, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017

    Over the years of researching (DI) women’s recruiting classes, there have been some noteworthy shifts and changes. Specifically, it has long been discussed that the pool of girl youth players ias been steadily expanding for the last 20 years or so. Additionally, this expansion has pushed up the numbers of players such that the various local clubs could start to “professionalize” and hire permanent staff and build out facilities. This latter movement has sidelined parents who not so long ago dominated the boards and coaching staffs of the clubs and has brought an increasing focus on competition and the national leagues. Big Soccer has been the host of much discussion among us about the positive and negative aspects of this trajectory.

    But a new wave of a different kind of expansion has hit the club and college scene. Two key factors have converged in the last 12 months to induce a tsunami of quality and numbers of women players entering US colleges in 2017. As much as the men’s college game is withering in the face of direct competition for top players for the professional game, the women’s side has moved to flood colleges with quality players this year.

    Historic patterns seen in the ranking of recruiting classes have changed significantly this year. Diligently using the same rating and raking system, the scores of recruiting classes have remained stable over the past 7 years with regard to the top few schools and the rankings of the schools at about 50 ranks down the list. This year, while the top ranked schools are a little higher (but still in the historic range), the scores normally seen at the 50th rank are now (2017) seen at about the 60th rank. This means that the numbers and quality of the recruiting pool has in the last year expanded by 20 percent. (See table at the end of this post.)

    One of the drivers of this sudden quality/quantity surge is the decision of US Soccer to create and fund national youth teams at each year from the initial identification of players at the U14 level through the U20 level. International competition is now available for every annual age group from U15 through U20. That’s 6 cohorts playing international matches involving perhaps 40 girls/young women each. Less than two years ago is was 4 cohorts, and for along time before that is was, practically speaking, U17 and U20 only. (I am aware, if course, that a U18 team was around, but only met several time per year, and only in recent years has started playing internationally on a regular basis. I am also not dealing with the U23s as that group is not relevant to college recruiting.)

    So, practically speaking, US Soccer has increased the numbers of girl/young women youth players from two teams involving perhaps 60 players to 6 teams involving about 180 players – 300 percent increase. The pipeline of players is much larger and far more girls are being exposed to more rigorous training and college coaches know where to look for the up and coming players. This does not mean, of course that the numbers of players coming out of the pipeline has increased by 300 percent, but it does mean that there is a larger pool of players who have bee involved with that training and who may have not continued to the end, but they are being recruited and they have the advanced skills to show for their time in the system. (This year I am seeing many more players entering college that had significant Youth National Team experience perhaps a year or more ago, even if they are not still active on the national team.)

    In addition to this increase in YNT training and skills, the older programs are continuing apace such as ODP and various identification camps. And there are new venues that have popped up for getting players into identification situations which, in turn, is feeding off the increased YNT availability. Examples of these efforts would be Top Drawer’s regional showcase events and ECNL, and US Club events. All of these factors have conspired this year to increase the quantity/quality of college recruits by, I would estimate, about 15 percent.

    But the quantity/quality numbers I am seeing show a 20% increase. What about the other 5%. The answer to this question kept hitting me in the face as I worked through team rosters. I have never before seen the sheer numbers of foreign players just now coming into US colleges. Sure, there have been for quite some time a few of the mid majors and some DII and NAIA teams that have specialized in attracting foreign players. And I have been saying for some years that Mark Krikorian at Florida State is showing the way of the inevitable future by recruiting significant numbers of foreign players.

    But 2017 is different. It seems that the numbers of recruited foreign players as jumped exponentially. Not only are colleges actively looking across borders, but there has been a arecent change (especially in England and Germany) that seems to encourage this practice. It’s not just FSU in the ACC anymore. This year Louisville, Wake Forest, NC State, Pitt, UNC, have recruited foreign national team players... and for Louisville, Wake, NC State and Pitt, the reason is ovious: it’s the only sure fire way to become competitive in the ACC.

    I could illustrate many more examples, but here are a few that popped out. West Virginia, to supplement its stable of Canadians, in its 2017 class has brought in two English national youth team players, one New Zealander, and a Spaniard. Wake this year has brought in national youth teamers from Iceland and Germany. South Florida has 3 foreign national teamers in its freshman class as does TCU. I didn’t really figure this out until I had mostly worked my way trough the rosters, but I stared making a list yesterday and of the last 29 teams I looked at I counted 17 classes with from one to three foreign freshmen.

    And the key lesson here is that these foreign players are not just lowly club players. They mostly are players from the country’s national youth teams, and in most cases, it is the foreign players that are at the top of the class. I can point to a number of schools whose 2017 classes would not be in the top 100, but simply because of their foreign players are now in the top 30 classes. I will cite one interesting case. Florida Gulf Coast has in recent years had its healthy share of foreign players. This year things did not work out so well and they only have 2 in their class of 7 freshmen. But these two were the highest ranked, and pulled their lowly class ranking up into the top 40. So how did coach Jim Blankenship solve this problem? It was simple... he just welcomed 6 transfers -three of whom were highly raked foreign players and presently they have the 12th strongest incoming class in the country.

    To sum up, the times have changed for women’s college soccer teams. There are more and better players in the US so recruiting a strong class is easier (until, that is, the pro leagues start to take the talent directly from high school in significant numbers), any school that wants to yet boost their competitive position will have to recruit foreign players.
    MiLLeNNiuM, Kurt Kline and cpthomas repped this.
  2. Soccerhunter

    Soccerhunter Member+

    Sep 12, 2009
    A follow up note on the recent surge in foreign players.

    The UEFA league involving 48 national U19 teams, ended up qualifying 8 teams for the championship tournament in Ireland this past two weeks. The English team lost two and won two, beating Scotland earlier today to take 5th place. (France and Spain play this weekend for the title.)

    Taking this English team as an example of the recent trend of the better European teams sending their players to US colleges, I can easily find 7 of the 11 starters and one sub playing in US colleges this fall.

    Captain Grace Fisk (D) will be suiting up for South Carolina, and Zoe Cross, the starting center mid, will be playing college soccer at Missouri.

    The other 6 players I can find will all be in the ACC. Forward Georgia Allen, who started 3 of the 4 games games will be playing at Syracuse. Midfielder Molly Rouse who played every minute of the tournament will be at Louisville. Midfielder Alessia Russo who subbed in for the first two games but started the last two will be playing at UNC, as will be defender Lotte Wubben-Moy who saw substitute time in the first game but hasn't been seen since. Top keeper Sandy MacIntire played all four matches and will be in the goal again at Clemson this fall. And Defender Anna Patton (or Patten?) who started three games and subbed in to the fourth will be playing at Florida State.

    Because I only carefully examined the rosters of about 75 Division I teams, I can't be sure how many other players on this roster are in the US this fall, but I suspect that many more are. And German top players are also heavily involved crossing the pond too, as are a lesser sprinkling of French, Spanish, Serbian, and Dutch.

    It looks line a trend to me.
  3. Cliveworshipper

    Cliveworshipper Member+

    Dec 3, 2006
    ELN the other hand, compliance people are complaining about the certification issues with foreign students so they can't actually get on the field. The issues concern additional documents not asked for in previous years, late decision making by the NCAA compliance committee, and conflicting decisions on eligibility.

    From one compliance office:

  4. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Which may mean, "Hey, I've had a pretty easy job so far. I don't want to do all that work." There are teams that have figured out how to do the work. Are they complaining?
  5. PlaySimple

    PlaySimple Member

    Sep 22, 2016
    Manchester United FC
    West Virginia's "Canadian heavy" roster is well-known. Memphis, though, is even more prominent with players north of the border. Here is the 2017 roster:

    Fifteen of 28 players are Canadian. Going back, in 2016 it was 14 of 26, in 2015 it was 14 of 23 and in 2014 11 of 23 were Canadian as well as 2 Jamaicans and 1 Chilean. Going back beyond 2014 also shows that Canadians featured prominently on the roster. What is the Canada to Memphis pipeline? I believe that the head coach and the assistant are natives of Memphis.
  6. L'orange

    L'orange Member+

    Jul 20, 2017
    That's a bit crazy, but I checked out Memphis's record last year and they were 14-5-1--a very good year. What is it about Canada that seemingly produces so many good female soccer players? I, for one, think that when more than half an American university team comes from other countries, something is askew. And we're just going to see more and more of this, as the OP well notes, as its clearly been a successful strategy and so everybody is going to be spending more time chasing international ringers. I think it makes the sport more mercenary and puts it on a path toward professionalization. Indeed, one of the reasons a lot of young international players are good is that they've been on professional or quasi-professional clubs.

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