Saturday, January 14, 2006


I wrote with obvious pride a couple of months ago when my son Chris made his high school soccer team. It's time for an update.

Chris started well, playing forward and scoring twice and assisting once (his best play) in the opening match. Then his team started playing other teams who knew how to play, and they started getting pounded - the next five matches were 1-3, 1-6, 1-5, 1-5, and 2-5. Unlike most other high school programs, none of our boys have played club soccer, and they are really lost out there. Sadly, they're not being very well coached, either. Our coach means well, but she seems to lack an understanding of how to teach kids how to play.

Our coach also seems to lack a very clear understanding of process. She only sees the final part of a play, and not what leads up to it. Two examples from last week. In the first, we gave up a soft goal on a counter attack because all three of our central midfielders (we play a 3-5-2) were caught way up field, leaving our center back exposed on a 3 v. 1 situation, and she yelled at the center back for giving up the goal. Second, our only goal of the match came when Chris, playing the left midfield spot, won the ball, cut inside, yelled at the right forward to make a run and then hit a beautiful curling diagonal ball over the defense directly into the path of the forward who then shot weakly at the keeper only to have the keeper miss badly and give up the goal. There was not a word for Chris but great praise for the goal scorer.

Chris has fared rather badly in our coach's "system". He has bounced around both forward spots, both wide midfield spots, and even a brief spell a right back, where had the only assist in one of our 1-6 debacles. In fact, Chris has all our team's assists this year but one, but that doesn't seem to count for much.

Today he got a bit of redemption. He started at left forward, assisting on the first goal by beating two defenders in the corner and then hitting a hard cross which the other forward mishit but it went in anyway. He assisted on the second when he dropped back into midfield, won a ball and then played a perfect through ball to the other forward. He should been able to score the third goal - he was running free down the middle and screaming for the ball but the other forward shot into a crowd and the ball bounced off of a defender and wrong footed the keeper. Chris was rewarded for his good play by being taken off immediately after the third goal.

In the second half, Chris returned to play right midfield and had several good runs unrewarded by the forward looking for his fourth goal. And then finally came his first whiff of a scoring chance, not only of the match but of the last month. A bouncing ball had been played outside to the forward and Chris made a run inside of him. The forward played the ball on in the air. Chris saw it coming and slowed his run to allow the ball to come over his right shoulder. He then let it bounce and on the short hop from just inside the penalty area smashed it past the keeper just inside the right post.

As they say on TV, un vero golazo.

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