"It was our pleasure having your team at our (2012 Eclipse College Showcase); many coaches, players and parents enjoyed watching your team play. Out of the many games I watched over the three days it was a pleasure to see PSV Union play Friday & Saturday. With a very young team including 2015 & 2016 grads, the team played some delightful soccer as well as scoring some great goals. Our U18 white team beat them Friday evening 2-1, but there was no doubt they were the better team. I must commend their coaches Gary and Carine Ireland on seeing the big picture and preparing them for competition with development as their main focus. This group of players are in very capable hands with a bright future ahead of them". Abner Rogers. Technical Director- LagunaHills Eclipse
#9 Lindsay Karle 2014
#10 Sunny Lyu 2014
#18 Maddison Morgan 2014
#16 Lauren McHugh 2015
#14 Annie McEachron 2015
#11 Amanda Shorin 2015
#12 Allson Lu 2016
#3 Georgia Kingman 2016
#7 Jacey Pederson 2016
#19 Sophia Vilallta 2016
#19 Robin Waymouth 2016
# Nikolina Cargonja 2016
# 2 Oivia Athens 2017
U10 - Class 3 Division 3
U11 - Class 3 Division 2
U12 - Class 3 Division 2
U13 - Class 3 Division 1
U14 - Class 1 Division 3 & US Club Soccer/NorCal Premier Gold
U15 - Class 1 Division 1 & US Club Soccer/NorCal Premier
U16 - US Club Soccer/NorCal Premier. played in women’s league
U17 - NorCal Premier/RAL (U18 State Premier 2012 Champions)
U18- NorCal Premier League Premier Division (2nd Place)
2013 Maya Norman - Bowdoin College #5
2013 Mia Venuti- UC Santa Cruz
2013 Ashley Zhao- UCSD
"How did they become so good?".."What do you do to train them?".."We love the way you play!".."Your players are outstanding!".."We never see club players playing this way. They are a joy to watch".."It is a rare thing to see girls play with such speed of thought and passing precision. They bring beauty to the game. I'm appreciative that you had some time to share with me your vision & methodology. Whatever you're doing over there please continue"
Alison Lu (2016)
Amanda Shorin (2014) surveying the field
Ashley Zhao (UCSD 2013) Pushing into space
Siobhan Cox 'punching' the pass (Stanford Women's Soccer 2013)
UC Riverside recruit Briana Thomasson (2012) "Step-On"
Amanda Perez (Mexico U20 National Team & University of Washington)
Sunny Lyu (2014) Passing the ball
Lindsay Karle (2014)
Sophia Villalta (2016) 'Scheming'
Dana Schwartz- University of Southern California (USC) 2013 & Israel U19
Terra Jones in Action
USA U17 Player Jacey Pederson- (2016) driving into space
Maya Norman (Bowdoin 2013) in control
Annie Kingman- North Carolina Women's Soccer- 2014 & USA U15 National Team Camp
Sydney Carr. UC Santa Barbara Womens Soccer 2014
Nicki Palermo- University of Chicago Womens Soccer 2014
We don’t hold regular tryouts where we cut players. Instead we focus on developing each player and invite interested players to come and train with us to see if it’s a good fit. PSV Union players are highly committed individuals. If players leave, it’s usually because they find that they don’t want to commit the time, or want an easier training environment or don’t want to do the homework or simply prefer a more recreational team. We have often substituted our top scorers or impact players when down a goal and often started our youngest and most inexperienced players in order to give them more experience as we believe that everyone needs the opportunity to learn and there are no 'star players' at the youth level. Having ‘star players’ is the wrong message to send players and families. Ample time is given to all players as long as they attend training, apply themselves in practice and train and improve on their own, which entails completing homework. We almost never have guest players as we prefer not to use non-club players to bring us short term results. Instead we play our 'bench’ or invite younger players in our club to play up. Players don't get improve by sitting on the bench unless they are there to learn specifically through observation. It is important to understand that very often, the stronger player today was once a player who was not as outstanding or capable only a short time ago. Players grow, learn and develop at different rates. Young players need to be rewarded for their commitment and effort, regardless of whether or not they are the “best” players at this particular moment.
Winning is Secondary to Long Term Development:
We do not try and win state cups or tournaments and make them so important that they define our club, coach and players' identities. We don’t put any more emphasis on winning state cups as we would playing friendly games. All over the world, the least important events are cup games. These are for the fans/sponsors and as everyone knows anyone on any day can progress to the latter rounds of cups. The coaches win-loss record is not important. Any coach seeking to advance themselves over the player, team and club would are not permitted to coach at PSV Union FC and equally so, any player who puts themselves before their their teammates is equally frowned upon.
Rankings Are Not Important:
We do not pay much attention to Got Soccer because the system had not weighted our team performances playing 'up' or playing against boys teams or older, better players. We do not seek ranking status for entry into tournaments. We rarely enter tournaments, accumulate points and register them. Ranking teams has been one of the single biggest problems in youth development and harms player development more than anything else.
Making Games and Game Day a Learning Opportunity:
Our commitment to maintaining a learning and training environment, even at games and tournaments, has helped players improve.
* We take our warm ups seriously. They are detailed, focused and designed to help players prepare mentally, technically and physically while optimizing their preparation.
* Most free kicks, corner kicks, goal kicks, and throw ins are played short and fast. We require this unless we feel the free kick taker wants to try to shoot or longer distance pass.
* Our players are required to play out of the back and play out of extreme pressure.
* Players are played in different positions often in most games. Some players play up to 3 positions per game in order to familiarize themselves with understanding the challenges of each position. Players are encouraged to ‘know their opponent’ and to see “through the looking glass” to gain perspective.
* We rarely check (unless for scheduling purposes and educational/comparative reasons) to see who we are playing, how many points we have or how many points we need to win, etc. We usually know little about our opposition and research them only after the game has ended. We focus on how we play and not how the opposition plays. We can only control how we play. We do not apply games tactics as our main goal is helping our players develop. We don’t run the clock down or waste time.
* We did not have a designated goalkeeper for 4 years. We rarely encourage the goalkeeper to use their hands. If a goalkeeper is not available, we prefer a field player with good feet, can read the game and stays connected, making the entire team ahead of them better. The GK needs to be as competent as our field players. Every player must play and understand the importance of the goalkeeper as a last defender and the first playmaker. Unnecessarily ridding the ball (unless clearing the ball under duress) is not accepted.
Reducing Travel Time & Cost & Increasing Practice & Study Time:
We reduce travel time and expenses by not over-emphasizing away tournaments in order to focus on practice and homework. Our practices are as important and often more intense than games. We practice much more than we play official games. The best competition our players get is at the local park or at training vs older or younger teams, boys teams, numbers up or down in a small sided situation, vs coaches and guest pro and college players, etc.
Many players are playing 1-4 age groups up and we often enter tournaments and leagues playing an age group up in order to increase the challenge and improve the level of play.
All players have 1,000-6,000+ juggles (variation) with a minimum of 1000+. They are also required to memorize and understand numerous other exercises and technical skills and encouraged to study videos and games. The club follows a specifc, detailed and complex curriculum designed by the coaching directors.
Emphasis on Both Individual Development & Collective Play:
We are focused on player development rather than team results. 95% of development is individual, within the context and collaboration of a team or collective environment. We have a very strong focus on the technical aspects of the game: passing/kicking, dribbling and receiving, in a variety of ways. We also have a very strong emphasis on possession and collective play. These two key elements receive varying levels of focus throughout the year, and combine to help enable each player to be best prepared to utilize all the tools we help them develop to succeed at and enjoy the game.
Learning The “Whole” Game:
We have a very fluid approach to playing the game and we encourage players to learn the whole game, to apply their skills to various situations, and to learn various positions. Each player is encouraged to self express on the field and show initiative and problem solve, sometimes with instruction, and other times without too much coach involvement. Players must be willing to receive the ball in every pressure situation, even playing out of the back under extreme pressure. In practices, we typically play players in “numbers down” situations to force them to address the challenge and find a creative solution both on and off the ball. Conversely, we sometimes play younger players against older more advanced players in a “numbers up” situation so that they can be both challenged and have some success and figure out how to play against superior opponents and individuals and deal with more pressure than they typically encounter in age-pure game situations. In both situations, players are required to learn how to adapt, understand and solve problems.
Learning a Variety of Formations & Positions:
* PSV Union coaches are not fixed on a particular formation and system of play, although we do play a very creative and attacking style regardless of whether or not we play 4:4:2 or 4:4:3. Establishing set systems do not matter when teaching young players the game.
* Coaches need to prioritize technical development and movement. We have enjoyed a great deal of success allowing players to play creatively within a framework. We focus only on style and philosophy of play and patterns of play which we will change in the course of the game. We develop playmakers in every position, allowing players the flexibility to be creative in any part of the field. Good players can fit into any system. It’s true that certain players fit certain systems and perhaps some players suit a particular style of play, however we want players to be creative and inventive as they experience and enjoy their youth soccer careers. We don’t want players “pigeon-holed.” at too youn an age.
* In the course of a game we often switch positions and switch formations, which is all part of their learning experience. We aren’t concerned too much yet with their overall one system of play because we aren’t interested in winning. Winning is a bi-product of the way we play. We believe if we possess the ball and can dominate and be comfortable on the ball, regain possession though collective pressing and place a premium on believing that good soccer/football to watch is good soccer/football to play in and vice verca.
* Later in a player’s youth career players will gravitate to a particular position in a certain formation as they refine their style and qualities but the essence of the way they play remains the same - attacking, attractive, technical football - attractive to watch and attractive to play in from an individual and collective perspective. Players are first and foremost taught the aesthetics of the game and are encouraged to develop a personality and their own healthy competitiveness - with themselves as well as others. Winning itself is not the objective but learning to do your best and playing well is.
We believe that how a player behaves is a reflection of how they conduct themselves in training, games and in other areas of their lives, and believe strongly that respectful behavior is an important of not only player development but the development of each individual as a person. Players are required to be punctual and attend mandatory practices. We require that missed practices be made up but are very flexible with helping players achieve this by allowing them to guest with our other teams or groups. Players are required to help set up and take down the field and put away the equipment. Players are also required to show etiquette and respect for teammates, coaches and opponents.
We are extremely committed to the club and team. There has been 100% coaching attendance the past 8 years. Coaches have never missed or cancelled a practice due to their own absence. We’ve also invited dozens of guest coaches to run sessions at our home field. The coaches demonstrate and are required to remain in top physical condition.
Coaches As Role Models:
Our coaches are the key to the success of our club. They are role models to the players as teachers and as people. We feel strongly that our behavior and what and how we teach is the most important influence in our club on players’ development and growth. Coaches are required to have a high level technical and physical proficiency and be good examples for the players. In other words, they need to show the players what they need to do. All of the coaches are high level players themselves. When teaching children the ability to physically teach the player is paramount.
PSV Union 94G have received many compliments on the way we play and the quality of the players. This team just may arguably be the most improved team in the country because it was originally assembled with recreational players and many players who did not make the “cut” at the Class 3 recreational level. PSV Union 94G has been managed and coached by Carine and Gary Ireland for the last 8 years.
While the team wouldn’t be the first team to play ‘up’ nor would it be the first team to out-possess their opponents, what is most striking is where the team and players came from. All but 1-2 players were recreational players and came from the old CYSA Class 3 leagues. These weren’t dominant players and in fact were overlooked by the select and travel teams who picked more dominant athletes.
Many clubs and coaches take the short route and pick the dominant athletes to win youth games and win tournaments in order to impress college coaches who feel they need dominant athletes to compete in college soccer. One look at the team today and you will see that they are not the “biggest, fastest” athletes. We have a small team in fact, however our players possess a variety of other important attributes.
All one needs to do is to look at any U9-U14 girls youth soccer matches and you will see the biggest, fastest and strongest players. Very few teams and players are playing or trying to play the game of soccer properly - using a combination of technical, physical, mental and tactical, rather than just pure physical skill. Unfortunately, many players discover that when they reach the ages of 15-17 and beyond, the tools necessary to enable them to succeed at a higher level have been under-developed making it extremely difficult to develop them because the players are more or less out of time. It takes a minimum of 5 years to develop a player to a modest technical level, and unfortunately a club coach or DOC doesn’t always remain with a club or team that long and temorary coaches who are geared to winning often overlook development.
PSV Union 94G’s achievements didn't happen by chance or overnight but we recognize that getting this far has been a tremendous journey that the coaches, players, parents and club embarked up on and remained committed to many years ago. The team took the bad well before the good and often were on the end of bad losses. Times weren't always this good. Staying true to our vision of long term development and the incredible commitment from Carine Ireland has ensured the team stay its course. We can proudly say we are developing some of the best local talent with some of these players considered to be among the best in their age groups in the country. There are many others who are very good in their own right who have not been recognized by selectors but are getting attention from various colleges. To say that it has been a success to date is a massive understatement.
PSV Union FC 94G, a combined U14-U17 team, played in the Premier 1 Division of the U18 NorCal Premier RAL Showcase Tournament in Davis, CA in November 2011. The team won both games 3:0 and 5:0, scoring more goals than the other 5 teams combined and possessing the ball for approximately 80% of both games. Although we were a primarily U17 squad with some U16 and U15's we decided not to play our team in the U17 league bracket this year and requested to play in the U18 bracket to accommodate 3-4 of our older U18 players. The team was comprised of 13, 14, 15 and 16 year old players, with some just turning 17 years of age making us the youngest team in the age group by far. In fact, PSV Union would even have been the youngest team in the younger U17 league if we had decided to enter! This Spring, we will play in the Premier 1 division. Our results in the Fall proved that we were far better suited to the upper division than the Premier 2 division we were initially placed in last Fall: we scored approximately 50 goals in the B Division in 8 games, limited touches for players (e.g. one touch, left foot only) and sometimes played with 8-9 players to place more pressure on our opponents. Games were even cut short per request by the other teams.
The players, under the tutelage of the PSV Union staff, have come a long way to go but they recognize they also have a long way to go. We are only just beginning to refine things technically. For example, someone had asked me what type of physical training we have our players doing. Most of the players are still growing and developing their strength and body control and are working on general dexterity exercises and coordination. We are very careful not to over-stress their bodies with speed/power/strength (weights, etc) to protect them from injury and allow them to grown naturally without placing unnecessary strain on their bodies. The girls are essentially 13-17 years of age with most around 15-16, so still in their formative years of growth and development. We do not expect them to be at their full physical capabilities and potential at this age. As they approach the college age, we will work more on preparing the players more physically for the rigors of college soccer and beyond.
We are of the belief that the players are still very much learning fundamental individual and collective tactics and techniques and are familiarizing the players. PSV Union coach Simon Ireland and Gary Ireland were at FC Barcelona and trained there as young players for a brief time so we are familiar with the clubs set up. Although this was early on in the clubs recent history, the emphasis was based on technical development within and attacking framework, something we have done and continue to do today. Not much has changed. Current Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola is simply carrying the flame.
The “PSV Union Way”:
PSV Union has a group of culture 'custodians' that 'carry the flame', so to speak. Gary, Carine and Simon Ireland formed the club and run every aspect of the club. this knowledge resource is shared between everyone. Generations of football knowledge and experience both on and off the field is transmitted to the players every day. These culture custodians control the operations of the club; hiring and allocation of coaches; field assignments and scheduling; player behavior; budget, etc. They ensure the right material is being taught and the style of play is being followed. Coaches who work against the philosophy do not remain in the club.
The single biggest issue confronting professional player development is that they cannot find time to practice as much technically as they used to. Clubs basically use the players to get results and when they lose their differentiating qualities they sell them and buy others. Coaches and managers tend to manage personalities and coach tactics with an emphasis on fitness. The key to any players development is continued technical development. A team is only as good as the individual players on the team. Even the top professional players lose their form if they don’t practice often.
Practice is as important as the games and in fact, we stress that it’s often moreimportant when it comes to development. Some of the most competitive games are played on our training fields between ourselves, and not in tournaments or league. Games are merely used as a testing platform to experiment material learned in practice. Trainings can often be more intense than games. Players will have plenty of opportunity to play in competitive games once they graduate.
Most players and teams train at the same location on the same day. Coaches and players know names of players on other teams and age groups and there is a strong “family” feel to the club. The Director of Coaching determines micro- and macro- training content which is applied to trainings for all age groups. All players are required to work in limited spaces and rarely are maximum sized spaces used so as to encourage more contact with the ball and interaction with teammates and opponents.
Our coaches enjoy working with multiple players and groups and are encouraged to transmit their own personal knowledge and passion to players. All coaches are expected to demonstrate each exercise proficiently (strong visuals) and play with and against the players. Typically, coaches tend to be more advanced players therefore enabling them to teach as they participate. This is huge plus. In the case of our female coaches, our two best female players in the club are Carine Ireland and Veronica Perez, the latter a current member of the Mexico women’s national team and the former having played at Liverpool FC in England. The girls learn from them which has a carry-over effect on the remainder of the club. The internal bar is raised as a result.
All players U11 and above train 3 times per week with their team, attend 1-2 additional technical training gorups, plus weekend games. All players train on their own and do homework. Most players are touching the ball and training every day and often multiple times per day when possible. All players watch video and TV and they have favorite teams and players and have a deep knowledge of the game. We use www.pass2me.com to post daily videos of famous players, teams and highlights, as well as documentary videos on, e.g. Barcelona's style of play and culture.
Our players are rewarded for their efforts. Younger players excelling with their individual homework and practice are often invited to train and play 'up' as guests. Players doing extra training and showing a greater rate of improvement are invited to more events. Players showing potential are given the chance to train with and play with older or more advanced groups to motivate them and allow them to see what is possible, and this is often the strongest incentive for them to challenge themselves. Young players are motivated to excel as they enjoy the benefit of being rewarded by playing with older and better players. Older and more experienced players are 'forced' to lead by example through attitude and work ethic, application, trying to play the right way and possessing better technique and ability. This ‘top down’ reverse motivation is an important part of player development, but is often missing from the modern game due to the fact that coaches and coaching directors can build more teams by playing players age pure.