Why San Carlos is “The City of Good Soccer.”

August 26, 2008

This is the time of year is when the summer vacations are wrapping up and the kids are headed back to school.   But with fall just around the corner, it's also a time when psychedelic-clad masses of kids in invade our sports field every weekend, and this can only mean one thing:  It's another soccer season in San Carlos.

The popularity of youth soccer in California has grown exponentially in just a few decades, and San Carlos is no different in this respect.  In my youth, I played for an AYSO U10 boys team in San Carlos — we had to pull kids from Redwood City, San Carlos, and Belmont just to stitch together a single team! By comparison, today San Carlos AYSO has 17 teams in U10B alone, and scores of other teams in both the girls and boys divisions from U6 all the way up to U19.  Soccer is by far the most popular youth sport in San Carlos, and this city does soccer right…

Why is soccer such a hit in San Carlos?   If you look at the evolution of youth soccer, the explosive growth in California has served to create two main levels participation:  Recreational soccer and Club (aka travel) soccer.  The different leagues accommodate the varying skill level and interest of the players, and San Carlos offers great options for both groups:

Recreational Soccer:


San Carlos offers an outstanding recreational league through their affiliation with the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO).  AYSO has 5 underlying philosophies that make it one of the best youth sports organizations in the country:

  1. Balanced Teams.
  2. Everyone Plays.
  3. Positive Coaching.
  4. Open Registration (anyone can sign up.)
  5. Good Sportsmanship.

San Carlos AYSO fields teams in both girl's and boy's divisions from U6 through U19.   Typically, teams play against other teams within San Carlos, although the older age groups will play teams from other cities.  Since all players are guaranteed playing time, it's a great way for kids to get a taste of the game, and develop their skills in game situations.   The fall season runs from now until December, and there's a Winter League that's a bit more competitive (for those who want a little more soccer) that runs from January through March.    I can't speak highly enough about San Carlos AYSO.  My entire family has been involved at some level of this organization for years — we've either coached, refereed, played, or served on the board at one point or another.   It's just a fun way to spend a Saturday morning!

Club Soccer:


While AYSO provides an outstanding foundation to learn the basics of soccer, some kids soon realize that soccer is their favorite sport and yearn for something a little more competitive.   That's where club soccer comes in.  Also referred to as “travel” soccer, club soccer is indeed more competitive than its brethren in AYSO.    The San Carlos United Soccer Club is our hometown club organization, and they field boys and girls teams from U9 – U19 that play in leagues that are affiliated with either the California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA) or  US Club Soccer (or both.)

The big difference from AYSO is that club soccer usually has only 1-2 teams per age group, the level of competition is considerably higher, and they play teams from all over northern California.  Often times the teams play in tournaments — the Soccer by the Bay Tournament that just swept through San Carlos last weekend is a prime example.   Some club teams play almost the entire year, so it's definitely a step up in commitment from rec soccer.

So whether your child just likes the fun aspect of soccer or it has become their favorite sport, San Carlos is unique in that it offers great options for both.  Our kids have played in both leagues, and have taken away many positive experiences from both.   A number of San Carlos players who were graduates of both leauges have gone on to great Division I soccer careers in college, too.   So feel free to click on the enclosed links above for more information about the different leagues and clubs.

Has the growth of soccer in San Carlos been without its share of pain?  Definitely not.  As the popularity of soccer grows each year in San Carlos, it puts a strain on the limited field space that is available for everyone to use (not just soccer.)   The City has been looking into ways to better utilize the few fields that they have, and converting some fields over to an all-weather synthetic turf has been the leading candidate discussed in many meetings.  Unfortunately, the differing opinions on this solution have really polarized the residents of San Carlos — some are very much in favor of it, just as there are well-organized and vocal groups in opposition.  The resulting “Turf Wars” have been contentious at times, and are nowhere near any sort of resolution, especially in light of the recent economic woes the city is battling.

But for now, it's time to get the kids out and play some soccer.   See you out on the field!

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