Monthly Archives: August 2011

U8s This Season

I’m coaching my son’s AYSO team again this season. In many ways it’s irrelevant what I try to teach the kids because they’re just so young. In other ways it’s important that they receive soccer instruction at such an early age of their development.

You can cut it either way.

I’m of the opinion that such early instruction is valuable, if not completely necessary, for a growing soccer player. The sooner a player is comfortable with the ball at his/her feet, the sooner more technical aspects can be added.

So far we’ve had two practices, and I’ve given the players their uniforms. I tested them in our first practice, playing an active game of sharks and minnows (with me as the shark) to see how well each player could move and shield the ball.

In our second practice I ran a series of dribbling drills to get them used to working the ball around with both feet. Then I had the players take me on, 1-v-1, to goal. They seemed to enjoy that quite a bit.

Tomorrow’s practice is going to be all about footwork, and then goalkeeping. Everyone’s going to play between the pipes this season, so I’ll have them catching the ball, retrieving the ball, and distributing the ball until everyone gets the general concept.

As I told the boys on the first day, “We’re going to allow a bunch of goals, but hopefully no more than we score.”

Tomorrow will go a long way toward the goal of preventing goals.

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Filed under Coach, Soccer

Deciding Between Club Or Prep

I have a decision to make.

I’ve received an invitation to join the local high school soccer referee group, the Inland California Soccer Officials Association.

It’s $120 to join and I have to reach certain criteria, but I can referee local high school games this winter. I have many questions but mostly I wonder w hether the level of play be any better or faster than the best U-16s I’ve seen this summer. I’d be interested to see.

So say I did join, and I’m doing a few high school games a week. I don’t think I’d be able to referee in the regional youth club league, the Coast Soccer League. Conflicting game schedules would be a big nightmare.

Double-dipping, if it’s not already abolished, would put me in a position of having to decline CSL games assigned to my local association, and I don’t really want to do that. That’s bad form.

But isn’t it also risky to decline my first invitation to officiate in the CSL? That’s sort of off-outting, right?

What I really want to do is referee a lot of AYSO games this fall while I’m coaching my boys U-8 team. Do a bunch of upper-division matches in preparation for the high school season in the winter. Then begin with the CSL in the spring.

I don’t sound crazy when I say that aloud, so it seems like the logical, most efficient way to allot my referee time.

Now I need to go run. A lot.

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Filed under Referee, Soccer

Referreeing The Nike Super Cup

Refereeing seems easy enough. Run around, call some fouls, signal for infractions and generally make sure the kids don’t injure themselves or each other.

Sometimes it’s a bit more difficult.

I refereed the U-11 championship final at the Nike Super Cup on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011.  The game wasn’t scoreless for long, as Pateadores put the first of its five goals into the back of the net in the 8th minute. The team would score again in the 10th, 20th and 31st minutes, and led 4-0 at halftime.

Pateadores is an extremely well-coached side, and its forwards skirted offside throughout the game, beginning with the build-up to its first, third and fourth goals. And believe me, the Pateadores players’ ability to avoid being called offside didn’t go unnoticed by coaches and fans of opposing Capo FC, leading to mis-directed attention toward the refereeing team.

So why is it that when one team is playing so poorly, and the score is lopsided, the fault must be that of the referee? Is it simply easier to blame the guy in the yellow shirt rather than look his players in the eye? Or worse yet, into the mirror?

Well, Pateadores didn’t let up in the second half, adding another goal in the 42nd minute (U-11s play 30-minute halves, plus stoppage).

On the build-up to the goal every Capo FC player, coach and fan was absolutely adamant the Pateadores player on the receiving end of the pass was in an offside position. Capo FC’s players, in unison, began barking at me about the non-call rather than playing to the whistle, like they’re taught.

Finally, I had heard enough sour grapes and told each and every Capo FC player within earshot, “Play to the whistle like you’re supposed to, and quit complaining. If I hear one more thing, there’s going to be consequences. Am I making myself clear?!?!”

Typically, players under 12 do little to warrant being shown a card. And as referees, we’re trained to avoid showing the younger kids discipline, opting instead for verbal admonishment.

But just as Pateadores was excellent at skirting offside, Capo FC was just as adept at skirting unsporting behavior.

Lucky for them, the only thing Capo FC was shown was a 5-0 tail-kicking. Next time, it might not be so fortunate.

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Filed under Referee, Soccer

Klinsmann’s First E-mail

This appeared in my inbox the other day —

“Dear U.S. Soccer Fan –

I am honored and excited to be addressing you for the first time as head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family, and we appreciate all the support you have given us so far. Soccer in the United States has come a long way in the last 20 years, and as a long-time resident of California I have seen firsthand the growth of the sport in this country. There has been great work done by the previous coaches of the U.S. National Team and many accomplishments to be proud of, and I intend to build on that foundation. Having played abroad in different countries has given me a different perspective, and while I have my own ideas for the program, it is important to make sure these ideas suit the American game.

Everyone will have their voices heard, from fellow coaches to members of the media, and especially you the fans. I deeply believe that soccer in a certain way reflects the culture of a country, and together we will develop a team and a style that truly represents the character of the United States.

During the next few months, I will be taking advantage of the tremendous resources that already exist here to develop a clear understanding of the direction we should take this team and this program. We will have the chance to look at a variety of players in upcoming friendlies, and I will also bring in different assistant coaches to learn from their experience and put together a staff that can help us achieve our goals.

Our first challenge has come upon us quickly, and we are facing a very strong Mexican team. For this first roster we have selected a lot of experienced veterans, as well as some younger players who we hope can have a bright future. As we begin this journey, it is important for all the players to understand that there will be a healthy competition for spots on the team, and that they must never rest or feel satisfied.

This is a very exciting time for U.S. Soccer and for our team. If you aren’t able to join us at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia this Wednesday evening, we hope you are able to watch the match on ESPN2, ESPN3.com or Univision as this next phase begins.

Thanks again for all your support. Enjoy the game.

Jurgen Klinsmann
Head Coach
U.S. Men’s National Team”

Never, ever got an e-mail from Bob Bradley. Not one. Not even an auto-generated one like, perhaps, this one. Maybe it wasn’t Bob’s style. Maybe U.S. Soccer is making an effort to introduce and integrate Klinsmann. Maybe Klinsmann actually wrote it. (Doubt it.) Whatever the case, it’s intriguing to see the new coach reach out to the fan base and put into written words some of his goals and aspirations.

It’ll be even more intriguing to see the performance of his first squad tonight against Mexico (6 p.m., ESPN2). Will the offense push forward rather than wait to counter-attack? Can a re-tooled defense play organized and support? Will his player selections inspire?

We’ll find out tonight.

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Filed under Soccer, U.S. Soccer, USMNT

A Quick Stream (Not Like That)

I’ve wanted to write a stream-of-consciousness blog for some time now. Just get down my random thoughts during the second half of the Argentina-England game (on DVR) and sorta see where it goes. It’s the U-20 World Cup, BTW.

Argentina has dominated possession but both team are flopping all over the field. The referee, some Latin cat, is down a good job and has called literally 40-plus fouls to this point.

I like England’s Knott. He plays up front, and seems to be the emotional leader for The Three Lions.

England is decent on the ball but are prone to making bad passes.

Little nicks are causing train wrecks. Argentina’s Facundo Farreyra is the worst perp of them all. He leaves in the 59th minute.

Argentina plays a terrific ‘triangle’ passing style. If the object was to pass and possess it’d be world champs.

These referees are really doing a great job. (I’ve become so bias.)

What do I make of Jurgen Klinsmann’s press conference? He smiles a lot.

Referee’s really trying to get a handle on behavior inside the penalty area on a free kicks. That’s tough to do.

England is making good decisions right now. It needs to hold possession for longer than five seconds.

Some England players put their hands up, as if to say ‘exuse me’, whilst running with an Argentinean who has the ball. Doesn’t make any sense to me. They’ve still been whistled for more infractions.

Still 0-0 in the 68th minute. A couple of long corner kicks by Argentina have amounted to little. That team needs a tall guy.

For an international rivalry with as much former heat at England-Argentina, this game has been fiery but ultimately, a dud.

England’s content to hold it here in the 70th minute. Too easy in giving it away.

Assistant referees are making correct calls on hair-thin offside infractions. Nice.

McManaman’s kid is coming out in the 72nd minute. He hustled a lot. Also, he’s missing his dad Steve’s famous flop top. Callum looks to crew in his down time.

Randy Moss retires? Uh-huh. Like Brett Favre retires. Both’ll probably be in training camps by the end of the month.

Still knotted at goose eggs in the 76th minute. Nothing happening.

Oh! First yellow card to Argentine Pereyra. He kicked an England player, Smith, near the touchline. Referee could have shown red there. Yellow was probably right. Keeps the game moving.

Pereyra’s mullet is too tidy.

England finally has a chance as Ngoo’s brilliant run sets up a teammate who misses the sitter. Brutal.

Argentina misses a sitter on the way back. A corner kick setup by a long run stemming from an advantage call, but player bounces it OVER the cross-bar from within six yards.

Ngoo is England best player, on the ball, on maybe any level. If he’s not starting for the Three Lions at Brazil 2014, something has gone wrong.

Thinking of World Cups… this one’s being held in Colombia. Friggin’ Colombia gets a World Cup? And Medellin is one of the host cities? You’ve got to be kidding me.

England’s Hurst comes on and runs over some poor guy’s ankles and get shown a yellow. He looks thug-lite, as much as any cream-skinned Brit can be, or in the way of the NBA’s Matt Barnes.

This game’s destined for a scoreless draw. All chances squandered. Put me to sleep.

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Filed under Referee, Soccer, World Cup