Travel (U9+)


The Cougar Travel soccer teams are talent specific teams for boys and girls ages 8-19, where players must tryout and be accepted to the program each year. Tryouts are held in the Spring and the program is open to all residents of Maplewood and South Orange, NJ. Travel teams play in Northern Counties Soccer Association and away games are generally played within 30 miles of Maplewood/South Orange.

Cougar Travel soccer is geared to players who wish to make a higher commitment to their personal soccer development and level of competition. Playing for a Travel team is an ANNUAL commitment to team practices throughout Fall, Winter and Spring, and league games in Fall and Spring.

Rosters generally will consist of 12-14 players for U9 through U11 teams, and 16-18 players for U12 and above.


Annual Commitment

Cougar Soccer Club is a three season commitment. The season starts in the Fall with practices twice a week and with 10 games played on weekends. Indoor training is optional but encouraged during the winter months and is included in the pricing. The spring season consists of two practices a week and 10 weekend games. Half of the games are played at home, while the other half are generally played within 30 miles of MSO. Each Cougar team participates in the annual Cougar Memorial Day Tournament at no additional expense.


Tryouts are held every Spring, and all new and returning players must attend. The objective is to form different level teams respecting the players’ abilities. The Club promotes a policy to accept all players, provided there are enough players and parent volunteers at each level to form a team. The tryout process attempts to align players with like-skilled players creating an environment where all players can grow and succeed.

For existing players, in addition to the tryout itself, the team’s coach and trainer will provide an evaluation based on the player’s performance during the season. Once the tryout process is completed, the Travel Committee will evaluate all these findings and recommendations. Evaluations are strictly confidential. They are only made known to the members of the Cougar Soccer Club Tryout Committee. ESA Soccer conducts the tryouts.

During the assessment process, the Tryout Committee must consider the all the player evaluations, as well as the player’s dedication, commitment, work ethic and attitude. For a player new to Cougar Soccer Club, they will be judged against players of the same age at the tryouts. At all age levels, the decision of the Tryout Committee is final. Once teams are formed parents may request to see the tryout report regarding their child.

Each age group will have an identical evaluation process. The goal is the same for both small- and large-sided teams: to have a fair, impartial and thorough tryout process. All evaluations are comparative and the tryout process is the same for boys and girls.

Please note that tryouts for the travel teams are free of charge and do not require a commitment to the club until after team assignments.

Following the tryout, emails will be sent to families with notification of acceptance/team placement.


Playing Up

All players will be evaluated first against players in their age-appropriate division based on their birth date. They can elect to be evaluated against players one level up by attending an additional tryout. Even if your son or daughter previously played up, they must tryout within their age group. Parents cannot request their players play up. Coaches, trainers and Cougar Soccer Club staff will make the final decision. Rosters will be built based on player’s skills and where players are needed in order to form competitive teams.


Training & Practices

ESA Soccer professional trainers will train and develop each team. There are two 1.5 hour practices a week in the Fall and Spring, with 10 games each season. U11-U14 teams will also have 1-hour practices once per week (days/times announced in December) from January through March at the West Orange Armory. An optional week of preseason training camp is offered for the last week of August and included in the annual cost.

A Spring-only option is offered to high school athletes in grades 9 -12.


Cougar Soccer Club Travel Team Goals

  • To create an environment where each player can achieve their full soccer potential and to encourage the growth of the individual and community.
  • Building an atmosphere that fosters good sportsmanship, teamwork, player development and social building skills.
  • Enable our children to have fun playing competitive soccer.
  • Provide a program of professional training for South Orange and Maplewood’s dedicated soccer players.
  • Establish a program for families willing to make a FULL YEAR commitment to a FALL and SPRING soccer season.
  • Learn understanding of the game of soccer.
  • Develop ball-handling skills, awareness of the game, physical level of play and commitment to the sport at their own level.
  • Play in a competitive youth travel soccer league.


Travel Team Facts

  • Ages 8 to 19
  • Trained by Elite Soccer Academy (ESA)
  • Two 1 ½ hour practices per week (days/times announced after team selection)
  • 10 Games
  • Boys play games on Saturdays in Fall and Sundays in Spring
  • Girls play games on Sundays in Fall and Saturdays in Spring
  • U11-U14 teams will also practice once per week (days/times announced in December) from January through March at the West Orange Armory
  • Preseason training camp – last week of August