En Route: One of Southern California Developmental Soccer League's Founders Talks About New League

Real So Cal Club Director Alberto Bru chats about some of the changes.
Alberto Bru, or more commonly known as AB, has been involved in the Southern California youth soccer scene since the 1980s. He has coached national championship club teams, future professional players, and countless members of youth national teams along the way including former U.S. U17 forward Victor Chavez [pictured on the right].

It should probably come as no surprise that he has been one of the masterminds behind the new league in Southern California.

“Teddy [Chronopolous], Don [Ebert], and I form the subcommittee at the head of the new league,” AB said in a phone interview with Goal.com on Saturday.

While AB said there is still a lot of work to finish, he is confident Cal South will sanction the league in the near future.

“It is like a wedding,” Real So Cal’s Club Director said regarding all the work needed to sanction the league. “You are going to get married, but you still have to get the band, food, etc. before the big day.”

Even though the league is still six months away from the inaugural season, some of the details are beginning to emerge.

AB assured that the league would break for high school soccer season adding that the high school issue had more to do with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy more than anything else.

Another point of emphasis for the new league is the ‘club pass.’ While he described it as less of a pass and more of a rule, the ‘club pass’ allows teams to play players up an age as the clubs see fit. It is something that Development Academy already allows but less common in local leagues.

As much as the focus has been on developing players against older competition, it is also an issue of need in AB's opinion.

“If I have two goalkeepers on my U13 team and the U14 team is missing their keeper, the club should be allowed to bring one of those keepers up,” he said.

Beyond player flexibility, AB pitched an idea on the education of coaches.

“On our website, we list the new substitution rules for the league,” he said. “It should help coaches become better game managers.”

The website states open substitution for U9-10, one re-entry per half per player for U11-13, and no re-entry in the first half and one re-entry in the second half for U14-U19 [college rules].

While the substitution rules, club pass, and high school regulations have been discussed, there are still some issues that may arise from this new league such as competition over players.

AB curtailed the fear that the pre-academy ages would turn into a competitive battlefield over the best young players not associated with Development Academy clubs.

“Players will naturally gravitate to where they have the best options,” he said. The club director was confident that clubs would continue to respect each other when it came to player signings.
It is the same concern that pre-academy leagues in other regions of the country have dealt with before. Earlier this year, Goal.com asked U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s Director of Scouting Tony LePore the same question about pre-academy leagues turning into farm leagues for the more prominent clubs.

His response was roughly identical; there is a certain amount of sportsmanship between the clubs in the Development Academy regarding signing players from other clubs.

He tied his response in with the new addendum known as the respect initiative, a part of U.S. Youth Soccer Technical Director Claudio Reyna’s focus for this year. The new league in Southern California is preaching the same message for both players and clubs.

With all that is on the table for the founding clubs to work out, AB recognized that growth of the league would intentionally be slow at first.

“Yes, we are putting a cap on the amount of clubs for the first season,” he said. “We don’t want to go from 0 to 10,000.

“We want the ability to administrate ourselves properly. And we need to make sure that the clubs are there for the right reasons.”

AB left some ambiguity with the ‘right reasons,’ as the league does appear to put a premium on letting the clubs make their own choices – either with player development or results.

Despite a full plate with a new league and a club to run, there is a clear poise from Real So Cal’s club director about this future endeavor. Perhaps his confidence stems from the vision he has for the league or the time he has spent thinking about how to run a league of this magnitude.

Regardless of the reason, AB’s levelheaded approach and expertise in youth soccer should dispel some nervous anxiety from soccer families in Southern California. 

Read part one of this piece: Discontent With Coast Soccer League Shakes Up Southern California Soccer

More details on the Southern California Developmental Soccer League can be found on the league website.

J.R. Eskilson is the Youth Soccer Editor at Goal.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NCAAsoccer

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