My son plays on an u14 MLS NEXT team and absolutely loves it. He loves the coaching, teammates, soccer organization and competitive play.
But, as many know, the youth soccer scene in the U.S., is more of a pay-to-play model.
I’m not a huge fan of this because it doesn’t provide equal opportunity to every child. I believe some talented kids go under the radar for a while because his/her family may not have the financial means to place them in club soccer. I’d rather see kid’s get an equal chance. I really can’t provide a logical a solution to combat this so I guess “it is what it is” at the moment.
To provide a little more transparency at the youth level, I’ve compiled my expenses for my son’s soccer in 2022.
In total, our family spent $7,615 last year. This includes club fees, uniforms, equipment, travel, camps and extra training. I break down all the costs below.
As a side note – Soccer clubs vary in costs by age, region and league. On average, a parent could pay between $1,500 and $5,000 for their child to play soccer in the U.S.
How Much I Spent on u14 Soccer
Like I mentioned above, my son plays for a u14 MLS NEXT team in New England.
This is his seventh year in the program and second year in MLS NEXT. Each year the expenses increase and seems to outpace inflation but it’s the nature of “the beast”.
Here is the breakdown of 2022 soccer expenses:
- Club Fees: $3,500
- Uniforms: $297
- Hotels: $1,383 (6 nights)
- Gas: $700 (best guess)
- Additional training: $850
- Camps: $750
- Equipment: $135 (cleats and balls)
In total, we spent $7,615. This is excluding any food or drinks when we are traveling. Also, we did miss the MLS NEXT Fest in Texas so that would’ve added another $3,000.
As you can see the cost to play soccer in the U.S. is very high. Depending on what tournaments and additional training you explore, costs could go as high as $10,000.
Is There a Plan to Reduce Soccer Costs in the U.S.?
Although I do wish there was an alternative to keep costs lower in the U.S., I don’t think it will happen anytime soon (or at all). Youth soccer organizations have bills to pay including coaching, staff, facility fees, insurance and other operating costs.
There are soccer clubs that do offer free programs but their costs are offset by either their associated MLS teams or other programs within the organization.
Many clubs do offer scholarships and financial aid to help families out. You’ll have to check in with your club’s director to see what your options are.
What Are My Thoughts?
The reality is, soccer in the U.S. is expensive compared to other sports and countries. In other countries, the entry fee to play is minimal and is based more on a player’s talent.
Do I wish the game was less expensive? Of course! I could definitely use that money for something else 😉
But, I’ve accepted reality and have invested in the happiness of my son. He loves playing soccer at a competitive level. I continue to gauge my son’s interest in the game and so far the spark is still lit very bright.
Do I look at this as an investment hoping that my son gets a college scholarship or makes it professionally? Nope. This sounds very stressful for everyone involved and I can only imagine some parents think this way. I’m supporting my son’s happiness in playing the game he loves. It’s really that simple.
“Why doesn’t your son just play town soccer?” Honestly, he wouldn’t have the same drive to get better and would get easily frustrated. Additionally, I think the path he is on will help teach him some valuable life lessons.
Playing at a competitive-level has created a lot of good conversations between us. I’m helping him navigate through the “challenging times” when he’s tested. And, celebrating his accomplishments along the way.
My best advice to parents is to focus on the child and understand what he or she wants. If they are talented and want to play competitively then club soccer is an option. If they kind-of-like-it then town travel could be a better choice.
Whatever your decision may be, exhaust all options and ensure that your family isn’t overextending yourselves just to pay-to-play.
If you have any questions that I didn’t address, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.