In the United States the high school soccer season is one of the most exciting times of the year for high school soccer players and fans of it alike. To an extent it is comparative in this regard to support in other countries for the professional leagues where everyone knows on what date the soccer season starts and looks out for who they will play in their first match of the season and the main games in the soccer schedule thereafter.
For high school players themselves, the anticipation of it as it approaches is exhilarating. Indeed, these days in a lot of high schools the soccer team now forms a focal point around a lot of the schools activities and for the students that play it (much as is the case around the world) soccer is everything! Indeed so seriously is it taken at this level in America that soccer players will begin to prepare well for it, long before the season starts.
Additionally, it provides great entertainment for other students and staff alike, whilst even allowing others to start to fulfill such dreams of becoming ‘Cheerleaders’ as they pull out their pom-poms and begin coordinating their dance routines.
Make no mistake high school soccer is a big deal in the United States, to the extent that the crowds would dwarf some of lower league professional games around the world So knowing when the season starts is vital.
So when exactly does the high school soccer season start and finish in the United States?
In the majority of States in the United States the high school soccer season takes place in the ‘Fall’. For our international readers who may not be familiar with this term, this is the equivalent of ‘autumn’ and whilst neither dates are exactly the same each year they take place in the months from September through December. A very good article which explains ‘Fall’ and the dates for it in the United States for 2022 can be viewed here.
The high school soccer season in the United States however can actually start prior to fall in August. For it begins for most states simultaneously with the start of the school year. Which over 50 states in America can vary widely. Indeed whilst the majority of the high school soccer season begins in August/September and usually ends in November, some states have exceptions to this and start their high school soccer season in winter or spring.
The high school soccer season in the United States and its popularity.
Though soccer’s origins lie in Europe the game is becoming more and more popular in the United States and particularly so amongst the younger generation. Certainly at youth level the United States currently has over 4 million players (and growing) which is more than any other country in the world. So let’s take a more in depth look the role of the high school soccer season in the United States.
The high school soccer season and how it is organized.
The organization of high school sporting events in the United States is taken very seriously. The scheduling comes under the high school athletics associations remit and each association is responsible for determining the schedule for the season.
What factors determine the scheduling of the high school soccer season?
The main factors that are taken into account by the high school athletic association when scheduling the high school soccer season are:
- Historical tradition.
- Weather conditions (with southern states more lenient in this respect).
- The popularity of the different sports in each state.
- And a balanced use of sporting facilities.
What times of the year do the high school soccer season occur?
High schools, across the 50 states, divide their school year and the soccer season into three different periods:
- The Autumn high school soccer season – occurring at the beginning of the school year. Late August/early September and ending in November.
- The Winter high school soccer season – lasting from November to February.
- And the Spring high school soccer season – lasting from early March to the end of the school year – late May or early June.
In doing so a better distribution of the sporting calendar can be achieved based on the weather conditions of respective states. Moreover, it also enables schools to better organize a more balance usage of their sporting facilities.
Nevertheless, the high school soccer season is more often than not a fall or autumn sport. Thereby ending prior to the colder conditions of the winter season. However there are exceptions.
States whose schedules differ from the usual high school soccer season:
Some southern states mainly due to their climate have a different schedule and put high school soccer on the winter season schedule. The following states are the ones which do this:
- Florida – According to the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), the regular high school soccer season starts in Novemberand is part of the winter season. This season then ends during the penultimate week of January. *This date is valid for both boys and girls.
- Texas – As with Florida, soccer in Texas is considered a winter sport though the dates in which it is played are different. According to the University Interscholastic League (UIL), Texas high school soccer season is scheduled to start in early January, with the state finals to be held in April.
- California – The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) also schedules its soccer games for the winter season. The high school soccer season in California commencing in November, with the playoffs finishing in March. This is true for both North and South California.
*Nb in some states variations can also occur between boys’ and girls’ high school soccer seasons, with them played during different seasons of the year. Boys usually play high school soccer during the traditional ‘Fall’ schedule. Whilst the girl’s season may be moved to the spring season, which runs from early March to the end of the school year in late May or early June.
What does not change however, regardless of when the high school soccer season begins is that the length of a high school game remains the same:
High school soccer games are 80 minutes long, split into two equal periods of 40 minutes with a half-time break lasting 10 minutes.
How Long is the High School Soccer Season?
The duration of a high school season is generally fixed at four months of the specific season of the year it takes place in; most commonly Fall.
Spring High school soccer seasons are sometimes a bit shorter due to the summer holidays. These soccer seasons somewhat of rare phenomenon in boys’ soccer though they are more common in girls’ soccer.
The fact that American high school seasons have a fixed length is related to the duration of the school year and the three separate periods they are divided into: Autumn, Winter and Spring.
High school soccer season – how does it compare to the professional Major League Soccer season?
When we compare the high school soccer season to the professional Major League Soccer season in the US we can see some notable difference, particularly with regard to scheduling Indeed Major League Soccer (MLS) which is America’s primary league competition for male soccer players, has an entirely different schedule altogether:
Major League Soccer’s season starts either in late February or early March, (depending on the calendar), and wraps up in October. October sees the commencement of post seasons games which essentially finishes with the Major League Soccer finals in December.
The same goes for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The difference here is that the NWSL season starts in April, not in February/March.
A major reason for this is that some Major League Soccer teams and National Women Soccer League teams do not have their own stadiums. So they therefore have to share stadiums with National Football League (NFL) teams. Indeed Major League Soccer’s newest addition, the newly minted Charlotte FC for example (due to their common ownership by billionaire owner David Tepper) will play their home games at the Bank of America Stadium, which they share with the reinvented United States Football League’s (USFL) side the Carolina Panthers and Major League Soccer is happy with this arrangement. Mind you if you take a look at their stadium in the following article and its 75,000 capacity it is understandable why!
Nevertheless, this resultantly means that teams that do this are highly dependent on the National Football League (NFL) season and have to schedule their matches so as not collide with America’s most popular sport. Television revenues are also an in important factor here as Pay Per View (PPV) television revenues in American generate enormous monies, so there is an absolute imperative that highly watched sports do not clash.
With high school and college soccer matches attracting enormously bigger crowds than they would outside of America. The synergizing of sports seasons in America so that everyone can enjoy as many games as possible is not only good for the entertainment side of things but also good for business!
*Do note however that whilst many high schools don’t have a dedicated soccer field, they do own all their facilities so they can organize their competitions more liberty than some professional sides.
A fan and participator of more or less all sports up to University level from Burnley, England. I am now writing as a freelance sports journalist. My speciality in particular lies in global Football (soccer) – which I played to a semi-professional level.