US Club Soccer, Northern Counties Soccer Association extend sanctioning agreement

CHARLESTON, S.C. (June 30, 2020) – US Club Soccer and Northern Counties Soccer Association (NCSA) are excited to announce a long-term extension of their sanctioning agreement, as the soccer organizations renew their commitments to continued growth and opportunities in New Jersey and New York. NCSA chose US Club Soccer as its sanctioning body in 2009, mutually growing on and off the field since.

NCSA was formed in 1973, adopting the motto “Enjoy the Beautiful Game” as a guide for bringing quality youth soccer to northern New Jersey. The league has expanded to about 100 clubs today spanning the Hudson River to Sussex County and from Orange County, N.Y. to Union County, N.J. NCSA has facilitated an environment that fosters both coaching and player development, and has been steadfast in its referee program.

NCSA is taking advantage of several US Club Soccer opportunities, including: integration with the National Cup and the US Club Soccer State Cup New Jersey beginning next season, Players First and the ability to host U.S. Soccer grassroots coaching education courses.

“We are delighted to be entering into a new agreement with Northern Counties, a league with a long-standing commitment to providing all players and their parents the best possible experience,” said Kevin Payne, US Club Soccer CEO. “The league’s approach dovetails perfectly with our Players First philosophy, and we look forward to working closely together for the next five years to make every player’s experience the best it can be.”

"The past four months have been very difficult for all of us, and we continue to try and navigate through this unprecedented time,” said Dennis Burns, NCSA President. “We are excited about our new five-year agreement with US Club and the safe return to soccer this Fall. The new agreement between US Club Soccer and NCSA will provide our clubs long-term financial stability of our fees and new access for their top teams to participate in both National Cup and State Cup competition at a discounted rate through NCSA."

“COVID-19 presents new challenges for everyone involved with youth sports,” said Bob Heinrich, NCSA Vice President. “We felt that at this time, it was critical for our league that we secure a long-term extension with US Club Soccer. The alignment of strategic vision between NCSA and US Club Soccer will result in developing and implementing programs that will benefit our clubs, coaches and players through the return to play and for many years to come.”

US Club Soccer’s mission is to foster the growth and development of soccer clubs throughout the country to create the best possible development environment for players of all ages in every club. The primary vehicle for accomplishing that ambition is Players First: a branded, holistic club soccer experience for parents and players which emphasizes the development of each individual to his or her full potential, and helps parents make better choices about where their children should play.

That Players First philosophy is supported by best-in-class partners and resources, including LaLiga, and is anchored by five pillars: Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety. In particular, Player Health & Safety is the emphasis, as US Club Soccer prides itself on fostering the safest environment for players in youth sports. US Club Soccer has stringent requirements for all staff registration/eligibility and also provides a variety of safety-related resources and recommendations to members.


NCSA was formed in 1973, with the purpose of providing a forum for quality youth soccer. What began with several clubs from the Northern Bergen County area such as Torpedoes and Americans along with a handful of other Northern Jersey clubs like Montclair and Thistle has expanded to about 80 clubs stretching from the Hudson River to Sussex County and from Orange County NY to Union County NJ.

Our aim is still to provide quality youth soccer. The enormous interest in the game combined with the desire for kids to participate has spurred growth of the league to about 1,100 teams in the spring of 2015. NCSA offers premier level flights at every age group and provides many additional flights for children to hone their skills and work to move their game to a higher level. Many of NCSA's clubs offer professional training and coaching, resulting in higher quality levels at all ages.


A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer fosters the growth and development of soccer clubs in order to create the best possible environment for players of all ages.

Anchored by Players First and its five pillars of Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety, US Club Soccer offers registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms, player identification and a variety of other programming, resources and services.

US Club Soccer is sponsored by Nike and supported by LaLiga through a technical partnership.

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USSF Guidelines for Return to Play


U.S. Soccer releases Phase 2 return-to-play recommendations

CHICAGO – As the U.S. Soccer PLAY ON initiative continues to inform, educate and assist in the process of organized soccer returning to play nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federation has released its Phase 2 recommended guidelines and best practices for all players, coaches, parents, administrators and referees.

In U.S. Soccer’s five-phase approach, Phase 2 reintroduces full-team training and should only be taken when local authorities have deemed it safe to gather in groups of more than 10 individuals. Phase 2 should also only follow a successful Phase 1, which recommended training with a maximum of nine players and one coach for at least four weeks.

“We’re all excited to get back to full team training in Phase 2, but everyone should make sure it’s being done the right way and includes the proper precautions,” said U.S. Soccer Chief Medical Officer George Chiampas. “To move into Phase 2, teams and clubs should make sure their state and local regulations allow for gatherings of more than 10 people and they have spent the past four to six weeks carefully following our Phase 1 guidelines. If we all follow these steps during our return to play process, we can ensure all participants will be as safe as possible when moving from one phase to another.”

The comprehensive Phase 2 Grassroots Soccer Recommendation Guide aims to help all those involved in youth soccer operate under key safety considerations for this stage, but also contains valuable information that can be applied to all levels of the game.

U.S. Soccer also encourages all players, coaches, parents, referees and administrators to take the PLAY ON Pledge- an oath to stay informed and to follow recommendations from medical professionals, to be honest in their self-evaluation and to be responsible to themselves, their family and their communities.

Each phase of U.S. Soccer PLAY ON represents the different stages of progress required to achieve the ultimate goal of playing with no restrictions or recommendations related to COVID-19. While U.S. Soccer is providing return to play information as recommendations, it is vitally important that everyone first follow all rules and procedures put in place by local and state governments.

Along with providing best practices in the detailed and in-depth recommendation guide, the PLAY ON initiative includes instructional videos, sample training exercises, infographics and other resource materials. As we progress between phases, the campaign continues to provide materials for those in the soccer community. All the resources in the PLAY ON initiative can be found in a virtual hub at


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NCSA 2020 Scholarship Winners Announced

NCSA is pleased to announce our 2020 Scholarship Winners!


Thank you to all of the seniors that applied for the NCSA Scholarship this year. We wish you all well in the next chapter of your journey.


Our 2020 Girls Scholarship Winner is Daniella Cxxx. Daniella has played for the Hackensack Royals traveling team since she was 8 years old. She attended Bergen County Academies (BCA) since 2016 and has been involved in the BCA Film Production, the Diversity Alliance Program and the Hackensack High School Marching Band. Daniella has received numerous awards and recognitions such as a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar, National Honor Society, French Honor Society and High Honor Roll for the duration of her high school education. Daniella will be attending Northeastern University in the Fall as an honors computer science student.


Our 2020 Boys Scholarship Winner is Jonathan Mxxx. Jonathan played for the Dragons Soccer Club from 2010 – 2017. He continued his soccer career by playing goalkeeper for the Westwood Regional Jr. / Sr. High School Soccer Program where he was caption in 2018 and 2019. Jonathan also played golf and participated in the track (indoor and outdoor) program in the Westwood Athletic Program. He is also an Eagle Scout and youth recreation league outdoor and indoor referee for boys and girls ages preschool through 8th grade. Jonathan will be attending Castleton University in Vermont in the Fall to study Environment Science.


Congratulations to Daniella and Jonathan and best of luck to you both!



NCSA Scholarship Committee

Dennis Burns, Diane Pinto, and Mike Mara

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Reprinted from Soccer America Youth Soccer Insider

Part 1


Why 'load management' matters. Ramping back to sports after COVID-19 layoff


by Dr. Dev Mishra


I’ve been writing about trying to keep up with some amount of exercise during our stay-at-home limitations. While many of you have found ways to maintain -- and even improve -- your fitness levels, the reality for many folks is that there was simply no way to keep up with fitness levels during our recent restrictions.

So now as we start gradually easing restrictions on outdoor sports and fitness you’ve got an opportunity to get some of your lost fitness back. But a few words of caution are in order here: getting back too fast, with too much load, and too soon is a recipe for an injury.

A sensible approach calls for a restart at about half intensity from your previous level, and then ramping up each week. In professional sports the phrase used for this type of limited activity is “load management.” It works for all of us.

What Happens To Your Body During Extended Time Off

Every part of your body is helped by regular exercise and unfortunately that also means that every part of your body is negatively affected by a lack of exercise. If you’ve previously been healthy and fit but have now spent the last 3 months sitting at your desk on Zoom calls, well, there have been a lot of things happening in your body from all that inactivity and most of them haven’t been good.

Adult athletes, especially older adults, will become de-conditioned fairly quickly. Noticeable differences happen from 2 weeks off from exercise. Young people have more reserve capacity and either won’t feel as much de-conditioning or it will take a longer time off to feel the effects. Even fit young athletes will feel the effects by 4 weeks off.

Among the systems related to your fitness, your heart and lungs will lose some of their efficiency with time off. Muscles will become weaker and tendons will generally become stiffer. The issue with the muscles and tendons is most relevant to athletes returning to sport after a long layoff, and those issues make you more susceptible to injury on your return.

Strategies To Ramp Back To Sports

Do you remember the day when there was spring training for MLB and off season training for the NFL? Well, those were times when even elite professionals are susceptible to overuse injury coming back from offseason rest, and athletic trainers carefully monitor the players’ return to activity. Using sophisticated data, the trainers start “load management” protocols to safely get players back to fitness. Since the Bundesliga returned to play, one study found increased injury rates during the first three weekends of play compared to the pre-lockdown average.

For the rest of us, the basic principles of load management still apply, and should help to reduce the risk of muscle strains and tendon injuries in all age groups, and growth-plate issues in kids.

For adults and kids a reasonable way to start is at about 50% of your old training volume and intensity. You’d then closely monitor how you feel. Some soreness is to be expected when starting up, but if you feel especially bad then take a couple days off. If you’re feeling good then increase activity by 10% to 20% the following week. I’d recommend over-50 adults ramp up at the lower range, closer to 10% per week.

Let’s say you are a young athlete who used to practice and play your sport around 10 hours per week pre-virus. When you start back you’d target about 5 hours per week the first week, and if feeling good you’d increase that to about 6 hours per week the second week.

Stay safe, and embrace the challenge.

Key Points:
Restarting sport and fitness activity with too much intensity and too much training load is s setup for an overuse injury.
Lessen your chances for an injury by starting back into activity about 50% of your pre-isolation load and increase by 10% to 20% per week if you’re feeling good.


Active Recovery: The next piece in getting back to sports


by Dr. Dev Mishra


I wrote last week about some simple strategies to ramp back up  to fitness and sports activity after a COVID-19 layoff. This week I’ll briefly discuss another important concept in your road back: active recovery.

Active recovery is a process through which you use light exercise, tissue mobilization techniques, and even sleep to improve your recovery from more intense exercise sessions.

When done correctly, active recovery will lessen muscle soreness and improve your energy levels heading into the next day.

Active Recovery vs. Passive Recovery

When you completely shut down from activity for a day or two we’d call that “passive” recovery. That’s essentially total rest. Sometimes that’s necessary, such as when you have an illness, but if you’re otherwise healthy then active recovery is a better option. “Active” recovery means that you use low intensity exercise and tissue mobilization to improve blood flow and tissue healing. This type of exercise should be vigorous enough to increase your blood flow but light enough to allow your muscles, tendons, and joints to heal.

* * * * * * * * * *

For guidelines and best practices for WHEN AND IF your local authorities have deemed it safe to return to the practice field for team training, check out U.S. Soccer's PLAY ON home page HERE.

* * * * * * * * * *

What Should Happen With Active Recovery

Ideally, an active recovery program should have the following elements:

Improve joint mobility.

A slight elevation in your heart rate.

Low impact, so it does not create joint or muscle pain.

Increase tissue mobility, especially to muscles and tendons.

Prepare you for the next day of more intense training.

The result of using an active recovery program is that it should help to reduce post-activity muscle soreness and increase muscle resiliency. When used consistently it will allow you to train more effectively than you would if you train while sore.

Examples Of Active Recovery Exercises

An active recovery session usually ranges from 15 minutes to an hour. Here are some examples of common active recovery techniques:

Low impact steady state cardio. I’m a big fan of using a stationary bike for this, but you could also use an elliptical, rower or treadmill. Outdoors you could do a brisk walk or a light jog, swim or hike. Stay in your heart rate zone 1 or 2.

Foam roller, especially a motorized/vibrating foam roller. These are great for trigger point release and increasing muscle elasticity. I especially recommend a vibrating foam roller, once you try one you’ll never go back to a standard roller.

Traditional yoga practice is about mindfulness as much as it is about muscles and tendons, and each of those elements can be a great aid to active recovery. Here’s a beginner’s guide for at-home yoga basics.

Dynamic stretching, especially hip and core.

These are just a few simple and easily accessible examples. If you haven’t been using active recovery, pick something above and try it out for a few weeks on the days between your training sessions. I think you’ll be really happy with how it makes you feel.

Key Points:
Active recovery is a process through which you use low impact light exercise to improve recovery from intense training or practice sessions.
The active recovery techniques should be used in the days between regular training, and should help you recover faster.
Some examples of active recovery include low impact cardio, foam roller, yoga, and dynamic stretching.






(Dr. Dev K. Mishra, a Clinical Assistant Professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University and Medical Director of Apeiron Life, is the creator of the online injury management course and the Good to Go injury assessment App for coaches, managers, parents and players. Mishra writes about injury recognition and management at blog, where this article originally appeared.)






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