McLean Youth Soccer Travel Program Overview

The McLean Youth Soccer professional technical staff is led by Director of Soccer, Keith Tabatznik, and Technical Director, Clyde Watson. Along with Goalkeeper Director, John Szaro, and Player Development Director, Jaime Moreno, the leadership is rounded out with Age Group Directors, Jamil Faryadi, Cindi Harkes, Jaon Ahmad and Jamil Walker. Please read more about this amazing staff on their bio page.

The McLean Youth Soccer (MYS) travel program consists of various components, including Team Training, Individual Training Opportunities, and League and Tournament Play as well as other on and off field developmental events including college information sessions and special technical clinics.

Players must try out each year to be considered for a team roster. Once selected by the technical staff, the player commits to one seasonal year (August - July) of participation with the team.

McLean Youth Soccer offers a range of teams for players based on level of play and commitment. Players should carefully review information about a team prior to trying out. Specific questions can be directed to traveladmin@mcleansoccer.org.

Team Training: Travel teams in MYS typically train 2-3 times/week throughout the fall and spring seasons. Higher-level teams may train year-round with more frequency.

League and Tournament Games: McLean Youth Soccer travel teams participate in a number of leagues. Placement in these leagues is determined by the technical staff and reflects the team's level of play and level of commitment.

  • ECNL: The Elite Clubs National League is the highest level of youth soccer competition available for girls. Travel and time commitments are extensive.
  • Development Academy: The U.S. Soccer Development Academy is the elite soccer development program for boys.
  • CCL: The Club Champions League was founded in January 2013 as 15 distinguished soccer clubs in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC agreed to form their own league based on a simple concept that included three main features: 1. Superior Competition 2. a Model for Player Development and 3. a governing board made up of Soccer Directors from each club.
  • EDP: The Eastern Development Program is an elite level of youth soccer competition in the Northeast / Mid-Atlantic Region. At this time, the McLean Youth Soccer U15 Boys Green and U16 Boys Green teams participate in this league.
  • Region I Premier League: This league is an exclusive and competitive league for regional level teams.
  • NCSL: The National Capital Soccer League is the primary travel league for the DC Metropolitan area. Most age groups have 4-6 different divisions catering towards the varying needs of travel level teams.
MYS Travel Program Resources

MYS Player Development Pathways can be divided into 4 stages:

U5-U8 Enjoying the Game: Natural movements (running, jumping, rolling etc.) are all part of players learning to understand their bodies, help develop balance and agility and begin a love affair with the game. Should be lots of interaction with the ball. Each player should have a ball in training.

U8-U12 Fundamental Mastery: Teaching the fundamental techniques to perform in a game occurs during this time period - the best in one's career to acquire technique. Understand tactical ideas of support and working together to defend or in combinations to attack will begin during this time period as well.

U12-U15 Application of Technique: At these ages, players learn how to apply the techniques they use in the game (skill). They understand consequences for good or bad execution and for good or bad ideas (tactics). It will be the beginning of learning "gamesmanship" - how to perform to have best chances to gain results. As always, the focus is on the process of playing, however certain times in the game may now require a different approach (i.e. - holding a lead or chasing a deficit in the last few minutes may cause a different strategy than the rest of the game).

U15-U18 Competitive Stage: Without losing sight that focusing on process goals is the key to earning appropriate outcomes, this is when results and finding ways to achieve them become increasingly important. Learning how to get out of groups in a tournament/showcase environment comes into play as well as teaching the things that can best prepare a player for competing on the HS and College levels.


The handling of goalkeepers with youth soccer is an issue that creates considerable discussion among coaches. Restricting a player to the position of goalkeeper as too early of an age may have a negative effect and could eliminate them from future participation in soccer. Children grow at different rates and times. It is impossible to predict what a child will develop into the best goalkeeper when they are ten years old. Early selection as a goalkeeper may not be in the player's best long-term interest. Development of a goalkeeper must be carefully monitored and conducted. The progressive teaching of technical skills is important given the concerns for "safety" within the position.


Principles of Attack

Principles of Defense



Depth (Support)



Depth (Cover)






Control and Restraint

Fundamental Principles of Attack

  • Penetration - When you are dribbling forward, passing forward, or shooting, you are attempting penetration.
  • Depth (Support) - Good width and depth provides the player on the ball with all around support so that there are options to play the ball forward, square or back. The more options a player has, the less likely they will lose the ball. Creating depth means spacing out up and down the field.
  • Mobility - Mobility means movement. Movement is important in the game so that players can create space for themselves or for their teammates. Players without the ball need to keep moving to unbalance the opponent's defense, and by making "runs" into positions that will create scoring opportunities or create space for the teammates near the ball.
  • Width - Creating width means spacing out side to side on the field. Good width provides opportunities to attack on either side of the field and up the middle of the field.
  • Improvisation - When players use their own individual flair to create passing or shooting opportunities to themselves or for teammates. Clever dribbling or passing eliminates defenders and creates openings for attackers.
  • Finishing - Simply put, finishing is successfully scoring a goal on scoring opportunities. This means shooting when you should shoot, making sure your shots are on goal and not wide nor over the goal, getting the ball past the goal keeper, etc.

Fundamental Principles of Defense

  • Pressure - The moment possession is lost the nearest player tries to regain possession or apply pressure on the ball. Players giving immediate chase can also help to delay the attack by stopping the other team from playing the ball forward quickly.
  • Delay - While applying pressure, the defender must be careful to not over-commit. If they are beaten easily, the attacking team may get a scoring chance quickly. A pressuring defender should also be looking to slow down or "delay" the attacking player.
  • Depth (Cover) - While the ball is being pressured all other players should be getting into defensive positions. The positions taken should support the pressuring defender in case they are beaten. This is called providing defensive cover.
  • Balance - As your team concentrates their defense around the ball, defenders not near the ball must position themselves to cover important spaces (normally central areas) to prevent attackers from making penetrating runs into these spaces.
  • Compactness - As you organize your defense, limit the time and space for the opponent by concentrating your defense in the general area of the ball. Defenders should also attempt to stay "goal side" to limit the other team's ability to directly attack the goal.
  • Control and Restraint - Players often make poorly timed or off-balanced attempts to win the ball. You must play "under control" when challenging for the ball. In addition, you should refrain from tackling unless you are confident you will win the ball.