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Travel Team Formation Policies

Pittsburgh Dynamo Policies on Travel Team Formation and Continuity

These policies apply to Pittsburgh Dynamo Youth Soccer Travel teams. Travel represents a higher level of competition and dedication than our Recreational League, and may be appropriate for some players who are skillful and committed. The Dynamo philosophy of developing skill and sportsmanship—rather than a focus on winning for its own sake—still applies. 

How are Dynamo Travel Teams formed each year, and do they persist from year to year?

Dynamo is a community club, and as such we understand the bonds, identity, and relationships that form as a Travel team plays seasons together and develops. Therefore, we support maintaining teams and rosters from year to year to continue to foster these positive attributes.

At the same time, young players often develop at different rates, and an initial tryout result is only a snapshot of a player’s ability on a single day. Experience has taught us that keeping rosters entirely unchanged from year to year can create its own set of problems, where new players have no access to “grandfathered” teams, and existing players can’t move up or down according to their ability, development, and level of commitment.

To balance these two ideas of continuity and opportunity, and to try to place every Dynamo player on a team with an appropriate level of challenge and competition, we have adopted the following policies on Travel team formation.

General Policies and Team Parameters

  • One Travel Year runs from July 1st of one year to June 30th of the following year, and is made up of two Seasons, the fall Season (August through November) and the subsequent spring Season (March through June).

  • Travel Team formation for a Travel Year is done by the Travel Commission each May and June, following the conclusion of the new player tryouts and assessments of current Travel players. The Commission takes into account team continuity, tryout results, player assessments, coach feedback, parent feedback, the numbers of players available in each age group, roster limits, and any other relevant factors when forming Travel Teams for the following Year.

  • Dynamo aims to have at least one Boys and one Girls Travel Team of each age group from U9 up to U14/U15 each Year. (See below for high-school-aged team information.) Age Groups are determined by birth year. For birth years/genders with enough interested and skilled players to support multiple teams, Dynamo may form up to three teams. For birth years/genders with lower numbers, we may need to combine ages or genders to form competitive teams.

  • Each Dynamo Travel Team is entered into PA West competition in either Division 4, Division 5, or Division 6. (Divisions 1-3 are reserved for “Classic” or “Cup” teams such as Steel City, Beadling, and Century.) Most Dynamo teams will be submitted to Division 5 leagues, but where teams are excelling or struggling, they may be entered in Division 4 or Division 6 to provide the right level of competition. The goal is for each Team to mostly play games that they could win or lose, rather than being on either side of a blowout.

  • For age groups and genders where Dynamo forms more than one Team, often teams will be entered into different PA West Divisions to provide the right level of competition for those players. As such, in these age groups there will often be an “A” team and a “B” team, and possibly even a “C” team. At the youngest age, however, player may simply be split randomly between teams then re-assessed after their first Travel Year.

  • Players who are invited to join a Team are, except in rare circumstances, invited to that Team for the entire Year (two Seasons). Accordingly, the registration fee covers an entire Year, not just one Season.

  • The youngest team(s) that may be formed each Year will be made up of players who will be in the U9 age bracket for that Year. No more than two teams of each gender will be formed at this age level. Only in exceptional circumstances are players permitted to try out before their U9 year; for example, if they are so far ahead of their peers that staying in the Rec League would create problems of balance there.

  • All roster changes must be discussed with and approved by the Dynamo Travel Commission. No roster slot is to be unilaterally offered to (or removed from) a player by a coach, manager, parent, or player without consultation with the Travel Commission.

New Player Tryouts and Assessment of Current Travel Players

  • Tryouts for new players and assessment of existing players for Travel Teams will be held each year in May and/or June. Tryouts consist of performing a variety of soccer-related activities, both individually and in a team/game setting, and players are assessed based on their soccer skills, athleticism, and attitude.

  • All players who are new to Dynamo Travel are required to attend a tryout if they are interested in being placed on a Travel team for the following season. We understand that in some circumstances this may not be possible, in which case other forms of assessment, such as attending practices of an existing Travel Team, may be used. Reach out to [email protected] with questions and/or to schedule an assessment opportunity.

  • All current Dynamo Travel players who are entering their U10 or U11 year must attend a tryout if they are interested in being placed on a Travel team for the following year. This is a change from previous policies, when players only needed to try out once and then were placed on a team “for life.” Experience has taught us that at these younger ages, players’ commitment, attitude, and ability may change dramatically from year to year, so re-assessing the entire group together provides the best information for team formation.

  • All current Dynamo Travel players who are entering their U12 or older year may be asked to attend an assessment of some sort, such as a shared practice or scrimmage for all players of that age/gender. By this age, often players have a multi-year track record of attendance, development, attitude, and performance, and so feedback from existing coaches will be paramount in forming Teams.

  • Following tryouts, assessments, and team formation, players who have been placed on a Travel Team will be sent an offer in the form of a “Made the team!” email. Players who were not placed on a team will be automatically placed on our waitlist in case spots open up, and are always welcome to join the Rec League.

Team Continuity

  • Dynamo Travel Teams are generally stable for an entire Year (fall Season and spring Season), though in some cases it may be appropriate to consider adding, removing, or swapping players to different Teams between the fall and spring Seasons as circumstances dictate.

  • Between Travel Years (i.e., in the summer), the process of team formation/review will occur. As noted above, team continuity will be an important factor that the Commission considers when forming teams.

  • Continuity will not be absolute, however, particularly at the youngest Travel ages. A player with tryout/assessment scores that indicate they are performing at a very high level for their current team may be offered a roster spot on a team that plays in a higher division or higher age. Accepting this change is strongly encouraged but not required; players may remain at their current division or age if they choose. Conversely, a player with tryout/assessment scores that indicate they are performing below the level of their current team may be required to switch to a more appropriate Travel team, or participate in the Rec League if there is not a Travel team that is a better fit. Asking a family to have their player move “down” a level is never pleasant, but sometimes the most appropriate placement for that player is on a different team.

  • At the youngest Travel ages (U9, U10, and U11), parents should expect some degree of team realignment each Year. Because players develop so differently at these ages, a “Division 6 player” at U9 could become a “Division 4 player” by the time they’re U10, and vice-versa. Dynamo’s goal, once again, is to have each player on a team and in a division that provides the most appropriate level of competition and challenge for them.

Waitlist, Missed Tryouts, and Mid-Year Arrivals

  • Often, our Travel Team rosters are full, but sometimes families will move to or from Pittsburgh during a year, injuries can occur, starting numbers may be low, or other circumstances arise that mean there are open spots on one of our teams. Therefore, the Travel Commission will maintain a waitlist of players who are interested in Travel but have not yet been placed on a team.

  • Players who attended tryouts but weren’t offered a place on a team are automatically added to the waitlist for that Travel Year.

  • Players who weren’t able to attend tryouts, or move to the area mid-Year may be placed on the waitlist once they have been assessed. This assessment may take a variety of forms depending on time of year and other circumstances.

  • When a roster spot on a Travel Team needs to be filled during the Year, the Commission will contact the first player on the waitlist and offer them the position. If they accept, the roster spot is theirs and a prorated fee will be worked out. If they decline, the offer will go to the next player on the waitlist and so on.

High-School-Aged Travel Teams

  • High-school-aged Travel Teams are generally formed for the Spring season only. Because the western PA high school soccer season takes place in the fall, and many Dynamo players play on Varsity or Junior Varisty high school teams, we generally have no teams at these ages under the Dynamo umbrella in the fall.

  • If coaches can be found and sufficient players for full rosters can be secured, high-school-aged teams will be formed for the spring season each year. (This process usually takes place in Jan/Feb so that rosters are set before teams need to be declared for the spring season.) These teams will typically be registered as U19 and involve mixed ages. The Travel Commission works with PA West to assure that each team is placed in the appropriate division and is scheduled to play teams of similar ability. 

  • Dynamo does not hold tryouts for high-school-aged players, but if a player of that age is interested in joining a team, they can contact the Travel Commission and we will find a way to assess the player and put them in contact with potential coaches.


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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15217

Email: [email protected]

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