The college season is now upon us. Teams are wrapping up their preseason games and begin their quest to enter the post-season.
I want to start off by telling you what college soccer means to me. To put it in a nutshell, the vast majority of the time these games make my blood boil! It’s simply not attractive, and is a clear illustration of the US “direct style” of play. Rarely will you see any organized offensive buildup.
This game is just a continuation of the unorganized, low Soccer IQ level of highschool and the majority of club. Meaning, the matches are plagued with incorrect decision making on the player’s end, along with little to no tactical structure on the coaching end.
The big difference is that we are now talking about a men’s game. Translation: Everyone is bigger, stronger, and faster.
This means two things:
- You will no longer have as much time on the ball.
- All spaces and passing lanes will be closed down much faster.
Therefore, your true Technical Quality and Soccer IQ can be exposed. You must think and decide faster! Be aware of your surroundings and know what you are going to do before you receive!
What’s interesting is that technical quality isn’t all that bad here. Most of these players were recruited on the basis of having a decent touch on the ball – something that shouldn’t be too difficult to identify. The HUGE problem comes from a very poor Soccer IQ! Here is where college coaches do a lesser job in recruiting, and even worse job of teaching.
As a result, the college game is full of unnecessary turnovers and wasted opportunities. A mere 5-touch sequence, which ideally should happen with most possessions, only makes minor appearances. Want to see a 10-touch sequence? Don’t hold your breath. More than 10 touches you say? Forget about it!
So instead of having an orchestrated attack, we are left with chaos!
Coaches and players … a huge improvement can be made with just some simple corrections. Yes, these things are fundamental and should be obvious, but these mistakes are constantly made all over the field.
Guys … We can do better!
- You are NOT playmakers! Do not constantly try to play your forwards or place through balls! If the defense does this more than a handful of times, you’ve got problems.
- Only launch the ball forward when under pressure and you’re not sure what to do.
- Never dribble out of pressure.
- Connect with other defenders and the midfielders.
- You guys are the primary play-makers. You can take risks, dribble some more, and play the forwards. This does NOT mean “do it all the time”! When it looks like you have a good shot at it … fine. Otherwise, connect simple with another midfielder or go backwards to your defenders.
- Only dribble when you have space or maybe when you are 1v1 in the opponents final third.
- If you are far from goal when receiving … HOLD possession and connect a pass. You can’t always try to turn, dribble by a wall of defenders and score.
- If you are 1v1, have space to run, in the opponents final third … fine, do your thing and attack. Otherwise, connect a pass.
Priority #1: DON’T LOSE THE FREAKIN’ BALL!
If you have someone open, connect the simple pass immediately! Make it easy on your teammate. The longer you wait to connect, the more pressure he’ll have from an opponent closing down the space.
You don’t always have to go forward! Don’t always force the issue. Play simple and maintain possession some more.
Soccer is a simple game … don’t complicate yourself and your team. You guys do have some quality, and I do have hope for you. I would like nothing better than for your team to shut me up.
All you have to do is make the right decisions!