Youth soccer has started undergoing changes in the past couple of years. The system was better than other sports but it needed work and I'm pleased with where it is headed.
Almost every U.S. Youth soccer organization operates under the U.S. soccer umbrella. This includes everything from local rec ball to the Olympic Development Program.
We've never really had the problem in soccer like you hear about in baseball of watches, rings, jewelry, etc. You win a tournament you get a small team trophy and often times the players get these medallion medals that you can buy in bulk for a couple of bucks each. Runner up will often times get medallions as well.
A big change that I like is to put more stress on player development under the age of 12. The clubs moving forward should start focusing on individual player development and not on playing/winning games. After U12 kids will dropout, play local rec ball, or move on into various levels of competitive play.
Competitive youth soccer is highly regulated. You have designated times for tryouts and players must try out. You then have dead times where players can't be contacted prior to submitting an offer to them. Competitive is now moving to two levels. The first being an age specific team that plays state league play along with some independent tournaments. The second being "Academy" teams that usually combine a couple of age levels and are the cream of the crop from within a club. They will typically get an exemption from state league play but will play in the state tournament. They will participate in a regional league that travels more extensively across multiple states.
The Olympic development program is a national level program that kids can tryout for on the local level and if good enough progress up through regional pools/teams and national pool/team at various age groups. It's structured and typically run by college/pro coaches.