The boys played extremely well today. I am reminded of this article, called “Seventeen Reasons Why Football Is Better Than High School,” it’s outstanding. Check the link if you’re interested (and haven’t seen it before).
One of the best parts is this explanation:
“Let me give you 17 reasons why football is better for learning than high school. I use football as my specific example not because I love football; I use it because I hate football. It’s been said that football combines the two worst elements of American society: violence and committee meetings. You can substitute “music” or “theater” or “soccer” for “football,” and everything I say will stay the same; so when I say that football is better than school, what I really mean is that even football is better than school.”
And the part I was reminded of today is the last reason, #17: “In football, a public performance is expected.”
The boys, like all kids, are excited to play a “real game” with uniforms, referees, nets on the goals. I think part of is that is so similar to what they see on TV. I was watching Chelsea v Aston Villa today, a FA Cup semi-final. Villa Park’s dimensions are 105*69. Real Madrid played Barcelona in “El Clásico today, the estadio Bernabéu is 107*72. The Polo Fields are about 105 x 65. So our boys play on a field that is about the same size as the ones the top professionals use. Just a little bumpier.
But I think the other part that makes the weekend game special is that the parents are present: “The incentive to perform in front of family and friends was a great motivating force for the athletes I knew. The potential for a poor performance was another motivator — nobody wants to be embarrassed in public.” Which leads me to my point. That was a great 1-3 loss. I prepared the boys to be bunkered in and on the ropes defensively, but instead we took the play to the Cosmos in the first half and we looked like the side with the extra player, not the one that was numbers down. True they scored twice but they were on counterattacks. There was nothing embarrassing about today’s game — for us.
I had asked the boys to conserve energy in the first half and not leave our half, but the temptation was strong and we spent too much energy covering the entire 105 yards. The second half, we seemed spent and could not hold shape. Although, it was still 1-2 with 5m to go and in my mind I could see us still getting a tying score. It just didn’t happen. But then I remember, when we played the Cosmos in the fall, we lost 1-2 both times, so 1-3 with only ten players, (1-2 until the last 5m) looks like a big improvement to me.
Which is to say, I hope your sons took it this way, and that you do, too. I’d love to hear.
ALSO: What are we doing in practice? I hope you could ask your sons and they would explain: we are training on 2nd attacker and 2nd defender. Today in the first half you saw some excellent work with 2nd defender, the teammate that supports the defender on the ball. We kept good shape and got in some awesome tackles. Your boys are hitting harder and harder, and winning the ball against some very skilled opponents. We will build our practices into 3rd attacker / defender before May. You should be seeing more passing now than what we did in the fall, and even more as the season progresses. With the third attacker concept, we can make triangles, and with triangles will come more stuff that looks like TV soccer. Ask them what they think, I’d be interested to hear about that too.