Orlando, FL – My day began early. Scouting the entire field was my number one objective so I was at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at 7:45 am to see group A matches. Barcelona-USA was scheduled to play at 9:30 am and 3:30 pm. There were games at every hour and a half intervals with the last game ending at 7:30 pm. Yep, a solid 12 hour work shift at the fields to scout and ensure we give ourselves the best chance of reaching our objective of winning the cup this weekend.
Now to our games.
We kicked off against Sunrise Elite (local Florida club) who came loaded with 3 top California loan players. The 3 players were all on the roster of USA Soccer Stars (team that knocked us out of MIC cup in Spain). We had a sloppy debut in terms of playing a lot of 50/50 soccer. The boys were naturally a bit nervous and forced the issue in the first half. What I mean about 50/50 soccer is they lacked the necessary patience to hold the ball and circulate it until we found a 2 v 1 situation. The boys were going to goal each time we had possession. We bagged two goals to take a 2-1 lead at the half but were running way too much for our own good in this inferno (heat and humidity) we call Orlando.
The second half was much better as we controlled the tempo of the game and circulated the ball a bit more laterally looking for our opportunities. Getting the ball wide to our wingers is the key to our success. Creating 2 v 1’s with out outside backs overlapping is out bread and butter and led to the 2 goals in the second half to put the game away.
Back line: Togo, Mikey, John
MF: Alex, Charlie, Jonathan
1-0 Pk converted by Charlie in the 7th minute after Misa was taken down in the box.
1-1 30 yard bombaso by California loan player on Sunrise in 11th minute
2-1 Jona got fed a brilliant diagonal through ball from Alex and finished calmly against the keeper
3-1 Charlie crushes a shot from top of the box after a great drop off feed from Alex in 40th minute
4-1 A carbon copy of the 3rd goal except Jona was the supplier and Charlie unleashed another bomb from same spot, 53rd minute
Sidenote: The weather conditions were brutal today. 90+ degree weather with 70% humidity was devastating to the boys who are not used to these types of conditions. They showed a ton of heart to continue to play with the intensity we demand in such horrible conditions.
Boys picked up a small meal consisting of a chicken sandwich and fruit from Chick Fil’a. Then it was back to the hotel rooms to relax in bed with the AC blasting. They returned to the fields 3 hours later to prepare for our second game at 3:30.
Next up was West Pines United Black. Another Florida team that would be running and gunning since they are used to these conditions. They had also picked up a 4-1 victory in the morning so this would be the game to decide the group winner and who would advance to the semis.
The game couldn’t have started off any worse. Turnover after turnover after turnover. The boys were not sharp. A costly turnover in the offensive third led to a quick counter attack and a breakaway goal in the 4th minute. A couple of positional tactical switches based off poor performances by a few players led to our quick equalizer through John Hilton midway through the half. A few minutes later Jonathan combined with Alex who blasted a shot far post for a temporary 2-1 lead. Another terrible decision by our backline led to a turnover with less than a minute to play in the half and an easy goal that tied it heading to the half.
A few adjustments and a not so nice half time chat to wake the boys up in this crucial do or die game led to a much better second half performance. Togo took a set play restart off a corner kick from Justin and rifled a shot from 10 yards out into the top right corner. 3-2 to ease the nerves and manage the game. Uly “Neymar” put things away in the last minute on a breakaway for his first goal of the competition.
Back line: Togo Mikey John
MF: Alex Charlie Jonathan
0-1 4th minute breakaway off turnover in offensive third
1-1 John equalizes after combination in box from Alex in 15th minute
2-1 Alex took a drop off pass from Jona on top of the box and finished far post in 19th minute
2-2 29th minute goal off turnover in defensive third
3-2 Togo with brilliant dribble off short corner from Justin in 42nd minute
4-2 Uly calmly takes on keeper and puts game away in 59th minute to seal our trip to the semis
Dinner and a good nights rest was the order for the boys. I stayed until 7:30 pm at the complex scouting the top opposition we’d potentially face in the later rounds. Weston FC and Coral Gables Toros are both quality teams that are organized and boast a ton of talent. The potential match ups will be a great challenge for the boys.
Finished the day attending the Orlando City vs Charlotte Eagles USL Pro game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. I prefer not to comment on the junk soccer I witnessed so this article doesn’t turn into an F-bomb tirade.
Tomorrow I’ll be back at the fields to catch all the final pool play matches. More to follow on future opposition.
Love the updates, much appreciated. Reading about the continued development of this group is fascinating, whether it be adjusting to a different format (8v8) or the boys understanding of necessary tactical changes (not the easiest thin to get across to a majority of players I might add).
I’m going to catch a game or two this summer (schedule when available please) because I’m tired of the so-called mantra of “Development” being thrown around the various leagues here in so cal when it’s quite obvious the win-at-all costs mentality and to hell with trying to keep possession is just another sound bite.
Keep teaching these kids how to play, and more importantly, the ability to understand the game, keep posting those videos that our friends at USSF would rather you didn’t, keep ruffling the feathers of the “structure” of US soccer and last but not least, keep challenging the status quo of what is coaching and the ever (or should that be never?) evolving landscape/minefield of youth soccer.
Good luck in the semi’s!
Brian Kleiban says
Believe me, we’re just getting started. There is no stopping us! haha
Well, if getting started Is producing the quality and style of futbol these young men are playing, then I look forward with relish to the next stages! Considering I coach in the new “developmental” league in so cal, I can honesty say that I’m not seeing any development on a scale as to what you’re doing here. Still the good ole kick and rush being played. Sickening..
Bravo my man, bravo!
Thank you for the match updates.
Question – I see the pic of your team doing static stretching. When were those being done? Pre-game or post-game? There are so many contradictory reports on static stretching both pre-game and post-game it’s tough to know what to believe nowadays. For example, “cool down” was always the big thing and now they say it can do further damage to fatigued muscles. But I don’t have the facilities at hand to do the cool downs that are suggested.
They say static stretching before game simply achieves stretching out (elongating) the muscles and sets-up muscular and ligament injuries in the future (generally in players mid-teens+ and esp adults – not so much with the little guys such as are on your team).
I strick strictly to active stretching and technical ball-work in warm-up. Very little “combative” player. All technical and mental prep.
In the end I guess we can talk about warm-ups as much as we like but the reality is if the player isn’t getting their mind ready there isn’t much a coach can do, if anything all, if the player isn’t ready to receive the info and play the game properly (speaking about this while thinking about a terrible game yesterday!).
Brian Kleiban says
I’m right there with you. Have heard all the versions about static stretching, active stretching, pros and cons. We have a fitness coach we work with and he’s for static stretching. We also do a good cool down with youngers after a demanding session or during tournament play when there are multiple matches in a short period of time.
As they get older, we stress the discipline in warm up and cool down (stretching included) that much more for injury prevention.
Tyler Dennis says
Good luck guys!
Saw the finals results do you have any video of the boys playing in this tourney?
Where did you find the results? I can’t pull them up anywhere!
Dave C says
There is a link to the Gotsport tourney page in the replies of the previous post. The results can be found there.
Thanks for the link.
Gary Kleiban says
Here it is M:
Brian Kleiban says
One of the parents took his camera to film. I’ve yet to get the footage so I don’t know how it looks. As soon as it’s in my hands we will see about posting it. Gary couldn’t make the trip with the equipment since he was still finishing up with teaching obligations.
Jake M says
Gary and the other 8 v 8 experts,
Perhaps this topic merits a separate post/thread:
I am curious about your observations for 8 v 8 regarding a 3-3-1 versus 3-2-2, or whatever other formation/tactics you either tried or considered.
I would imagine it has been a challenge to go from 7 v 7 (European tourneys, right?) to 8 v 8. If I understand correctly, you prefer a 3-2-1 when playing 7 v 7 and I have watched your videos demonstrating the brilliance and intelligence of your outside backs attacking the wings. But I’m sure you’ve had the question recently or in the past – with 1 extra man now for 8 v 8, do I add him to midfield or up top (do I go from a 3-2-1 to a 3-3-1 or from a 3-2-1 to a 3-2-2)? And which of these formations/tactics are more consistent with the Barca model or are they both?
I just completed my first year of competitive soccer (Fall & Spring Season and 2 tournaments so far) for my son’s ’03 boys team that has only played in the 8 v 8 format. I realize part of it is a personnel issue and part of it is who we are up against, but we are most recently playing our best soccer as a 3-2-2 even though we started (and won the local league) playing mostly a 3-3-1, which was really more of a “double diamond” (Sweeper + outside backs + 1-2-1
I know I may be preaching to the choir for those reading this, but generally speaking, from a tactical perspective, what I have been teaching the boys in our 3-2-2 is that:
1) One of the 3 defenders always has permission to attack at a given time and that most of the time this will be one of the outside backs dribbling the wing or combination play (give and go) with one of the central midfielders, which they still struggle to do in a game setting but seem to do well in scrimmages
2) The 2 midfielders consists of one that is desginated as the attacker and one as the holding midfielder even though they both have permission to attack; the holding midfielder forms a tight diamond with the back 3 when on defense, however the defense is usually pressed high up the pitch. If the ball is wide, the outside back applies a lot of pressure and the holding midfielder tucks in closer to the vacated spot
3) The strikers are designated as Right and Left and work together in tandem – when the ball is coming from the left, the Left striker goes wide to the touch line and the Right forward shifts towards the center (and vice versa). The attacking center mid has freedom to roam wherever and the holding mid should always have an angle of support to where the ball is
Obviously I am skipping a lot but my logic, in trying to develop my 8 v 8 team in a total football/Barca type model, has been:
1) The holding mid is often times playing like Busquets but is in front of a (bent) back three that is more like a lazy ‘V’ instead of a bent back four
2) The attacking mid is more like an Iniesta that starts deep but has a more direct attacking style (with the holding midfielder becoming a blend of Busquets/Xavi in defending and possessing the ball with very little dribbling and a lot of “play the way you are facing”)
3) Having a 3-2-2 already provides space for the outside backs to move into which transitions the team from a 3-2-2 to a 2-3-2, and possibly a 2-2-3 if they press high enough. (This is where I am most curious with Gary’s team’s tactics when you have an outside back moving into the space where the wide midfielders might already be. Is Gary’s 3-3-1 midfield actually more like a triangle and plays narrow in order for the backs to exploit the space wide? Do the outside midfielders play wide but tuck in to create space for the outside back to move into? Do the outside midfielders play higher up the pitch like wingers and this already creates space for the outside backs to move into?)
4) The 2 strikers are SUPPOSED to regularly be in wide positions to spread the defense and attack at an angle (almost all the teams I face also have a back 3 so this is another reason I prefer to go with a really strong midfield duo while keeping the opposition’s back 3 occupied by 2 strikers of mine instead of 1).
All this being said, I realize that if I am playing a really strong opponent, which unfortunately my small local league doesn’t provide but is clearly the case for Gary and tournaments he is playing in, that I may want to bolster the midfield with one more (3-3-1), but I still struggle with my reasoning behind wanting to now stick to a 3-2-2 for the next 2 years (U10 – U11) and really develop them with these principles before going to 11 v 11 with my preferred formation being a 4-1-2-3 (4-3-3) by adding one more center back, one more attacking midfielder, and one more striker.
Let the discussion begin, please! I am ready to discover any of my flawed logic and be exposed to new ideas!!! 🙂
Brian Kleiban says
Good man! Taking the time to break down each line up and it’s pros and cons before deciding which to implement to best prepare your team for 11 a side. Gonna disect your great contribution and follow up in either a reply or separate article.
FWIW Jake – I coached 8v8 the last two years (u11 then u12) and my teams mostly played 3-2-2. We weren’t blessed with technical or athletic ability so it helped provide cover defensively and attacking support. If I had better attributes on the field we’d play a 3-3-1. But I had smaller players that were overrun by bigger faster guys so I had to have them defending in “packs” and supporting each other in “packs.”
It seems I gave my boys the same direction in a 3-2-2 as you did. I also played a 3-1-2-1 (with the “2” being right & left central attacking mids). Both served a similar purpose but the 3-1-2-1 gave a bit more width than 3-2-2 did. You may also want to try a 2-3-2 if you have some better technical (passing and tackling) and faster defenders.
Troy M. says
Have read almost all of your blogs and am really glad to see your great work teams. Really appreciate the work you’re doing with your kids in SoCal. Now a grown man, however played futbol my entire life from 4-18 years of age, club, HS, in parks, school yard until there was no opportunity to play anymore outside of HS. Gary you need to write an article that exposes the English/PR/Disinformation that they put out that floats on over here as gospel to many here in the United States futbolling circles. (Remember, You’ve never made it as a player unless you’ve played in the EPL!)
A blog about the English, Scottish $$$$$$$ Money Maker coaching tree that’s prevalent or was here in the United States? These coaches/opportunists see or saw the United States as easy prey, $$$$$$, coming here toting that accent and aura of futbol arrogance while spewing out disinformation all the while cashing in for the past 30+ years with zero results. Teaching proper English futbol knowledge to the masses here, Dinosaur Futbol, GREAT! That region hasn’t produced a world class attacking player since the 1960s. They haven’t won anything and the ONLY reason why their club teams win anything is because of INTERNATIONAL futbolistas.
Making matters worse is the English made PR Futbolling pseudo-super star David Beckham here promoting the sport in the MLS. Some American kids will naturally follow the hyped up English model, I mean player, that specialized in hoofing the ball 30-40 yards. Great, a spot kick taker is exactly what we need our kids to be following here while this is the only skill they see from him so they go and practice it.
I could keep going but you catch the drift, please write something about this that exposes the English myth that they continually try to fester upon the American audience. You know why they continually harp on the notion of playing futbol in England to the international audience, because like I said, they know without the internationals playing there you wouldn’t even know English futbol existed. Their club teams would win nothing just like their Senior Team.
Gary Kleiban says
Welcome to the community Troy!
I feel where you’re coming from.