So a year into club soccer I can see why so many people are jaded and hate club soccer. I've written about my dear niece's experience....how her team blew up and unraveled slowly despite their having a great coach that really believed in development but didn't win enough. My son is an '08 that started in Extras. We liked the Extras, and though it was a bit political, did it for a year. But I found I had to coach him way too much (which wasn't good for our relationship) because there were deficiencies in his training, and also I had just come up to the limit of my own expertise. So we drank the koolaid and hopped onto a small indie club. At first things were great...everyone got along, we hung out together, we talked like we were all a family, had parties, and we were even going to do a trip to France. My son was to be one of 2 keepers-- we didn't want him playing fulltime between the sticks because we felt his footskills would suffer and we made known from the start it was important for us to get him field time. But it turned out the other keeper was just a really good gifted player and our best striker too...my son wound up playing as a keeper basically full time because they needed the striker on the field. My son struggled at first (the jump from Extras to club was hard) but by the end of the fall he was doing amazing and turning even a few clean sheets. It was also difficult for him, because while the team's offense (under the leadership of the lead striker) was amazing, the defense was very leaky, and he was often put in difficult situations which nonetheless forged him into a great player. Wasn't happy either with the GK training...they had turnaround in the GK trainer slot...their methodology was old teaching the keepers to pick up ground balls with a bent knee....and they didn't believe in the backpass (requiring him to punt the ball). In the fall, a worldclass trainer agreed to take on my son too (despite his age) which also greatly improved his game, raising it to another level. At the end of the season we had a discussion with the coaches and said we nonetheless wanted to come back, but hoped they'd get another keeper to split the role (like most of the other teams in the area do). I should have known something was wrong first of all when the lead striker's twin angrily left the team after a big blow up (because he was sad having sat on the bench while his brother as a striker basically played entire games), but my son had made so much progress we thought they must be doing something right. Additionally, my son had kicked the tires at one of the large mega clubs during January tryouts. The coach was thinking of putting him on a silver team, but then my son turned in a disastrous performance in a scrimmage against some older silver boys (he wasn't used to that power of kicks, and at the time too it turned out he was diagnosed with a bit of inattentive ADHD)....to our surprise, rather than look at the entirety of his performance, the coach cut him. In fairness, if he had been given more time to evaluate my son, the result might have been different or he might have been placed on lower team, but the practices with the 2 teams conflicted, and he knew we were out of time because the old club was pestering us whether we were coming back. Besides, we still liked our old club. Well, old club during tryouts brings a new keeper, and we think great....exactly what we wanted, but they start leaking players from the old team, and the coaches suddenly get very defensive and weird with the old timers. Then the first tournament comes...first game the keepers each play a half...new keeper is talented but struggles letting in 7...my son comes in second half and has a clean sheet (despite that his team has given up and he takes about 7 shots) except for a PK which is a dream shot high and to the basket of the corner. My son has usually outplayed the new keeper in scrimmages and practices too (with a save rate of about 6/10 while the other kid has 4/10). Second game of the tournament comes...my son starts on the field but is taken out minute 2 and then doesn't play again...o.k. that's weird....this despite that they lose 6-1 and the game result isn't even at issue. Third game comes and he gets about a quarter on the field, no time in goal. We begin to suspect the coach may have made an arrangement with the new kid so we begin to look for a new team much more actively. He's been recruited from time to time by coaches that have seen him in camp, but my limitation is transport...my dad can't drive very far. We do find a team nearby though and go to tryouts and he gets an offer almost right out the bat. My son is happy and we do a little celebration dinner. They also have another keeper, but coach explains they'll split the time, and we are great with that. Love the new team. But when it comes to roster him, the coach delays giving us the paperwork and then starts ducking my calls. It turns out he is overrostered (having made too many promises to too many people) and is looking for ways to cut to make room for my son. Well that's great, and in the mean time my son has missed practices with his old club, which finds out we are trying out elsewhere, and angrily cuts him. We go to yet another team, which heavily recruits him, and makes him an offer knowing he is an '08, but we think it's weird that there are a couple of bigger kids on the team...when it comes time to sign him and make the payment they disclose because of those bigger kids, who are '07s...they will be playing up...which for a keeper at this age is disastrous (given the big legs they face with one year time difference). By now it's also too late to put him into Extras tryouts. He's now trying out with 2 other teams, both of which want him, and which we like a lot, but neither of which have enough players yet. So, he may not have a team for next year. So I get now why so many of your are jaded and hate the experience....after a year out I'm already exhausted. I also know some people have great experiences and are lucky to find coaches that nurture and care about the kids...guess we haven't been so fortunate. I made a lot of mistakes...drinking the koolaid, not seeing the warning signs, trusting too many people and showing loyalty, and not being more ruthless in lying and moving him around. Lesson learned. But it's a shame a 9 year old boy needs to learn the harshness of the sport so early, and I only hope at this point he finds a good team so his love of this beautiful sport doesn't die.