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Risk vs Safety Continuum

The idea behind the Risk vs Safety Continuum is simply that we'll be safer the closer we are to our own goal and willing to take risks the closer we get to the goal we're attacking.


Above you'll see a player who (in a worst case scenario) may be forced to even knock a ball out of bounds.  Although I'd prefer you try to work the ball out of the back keeping possession, sometimes we're numbers down, players are out of position, etc.  Sometimes you need to just clear the ball to calm everyone down and let players catch their breath.

You'll see players in the midfield with a little more freedom to play a dangerous pass.  Typically you have Defenders behind you in case things fall apart and in the diagram above, even the player passing the ball is goal side of opponents who could intercept the pass.  With all of this in mind, it's a little dangerous, but not as bad as trying this 20 yards further back.

At the far right, you'll see a player willing to take the chance of beating two opponents n the dribble.  Here, the 1st Attacker is willing to take the risk of failing because the reward (of getting into the penalty box) is so high.

28 Minutes to 35 Minutes Per Half

How To Speed Things Up

The average time a ball is in play during one half of a soccer game is 28 – 35 minutes (approximately).  When we are level; down; or playing a weaker team, we need to play closer to 35 minutes.


**Don’t Panic!**  Remember that a well executed movement or set piece is worth the few wasted seconds it may have taken to set it up.


During The Run Of Play

  1. Find forwards as quickly as possible

      - Forwards stay as high as possible


**  Remember that this may mean using two or three shorter, but higher percentage passes instead of one quick 50/50 ball, keeping the ball is worth the extra time.  Just do it quickly.**


Free Kicks: Defending

  1. Get set up as quickly as possible

  2. Give 9 yards as soon as we are ready


*  Desperate Measure

    1. Stay right in front of the ball so that the ref has to stop the clock and card you


Free Kicks: Attacking

  1. Don’t panic

  2. Look for a quick shot or penetrating pass

  3. If you ask for 10 yards, you’ll have to wait for a whistle

  4. If the other team is stalling, try playing a ball back or wide., . . . or switch fields if you have to


  Desperate Measure

    1. Ask for 10 yards and immediately drive the ball into a player that is only 1 yard away.The ref should stop the clock and caution the opposing player


Corner Kicks

  1. Only play a short corner if it is really on

  2. If we need a goal, take the time to get numbers involved and serve it up


After We Score (If we still need a goal)

  1. Many players feel it’s important to take the ball and quickly get it back to the center circle, but in college soccer the clock will stop after a goal.  Try     to get the ball and take it back, but don’t get into a fight over it.


How To Slow Things Down

The average time a ball is in play during one half of a soccer game is 28 – 35 minutes (approximately).  When we are winning, or playing a stronger team, we need to play closer to 28 minutes.


** During injury time against the Dallas Burn on July 28th, The Crew wasted nearly two minutes on two corners and three throw-ins all within a few feet of each other.**


During The Run Of Play

  1. Do the things that take time

      - Switch fields, use width, dribble behind defenses


  Desperate Measures

    1. Perhaps dribble into a corner to shield the ball as long as you can

    2. Don’t rush throw-ins and free kicks

        - Unless you can put it behind a team and force them to come back and defend

        - Maybe you even sneak up too far until the ref has to tell you to go back

    3. Step in front of a Goalkeeper’s distribution.  This will eliminate a quick counter attack


Free Kicks: Defending

  1. Step in front of an opponent’s free kick to eliminate a quick one

      - Be cautious that you don’t draw a card

  2. Move the ball back to where it belongs

  3. Ask ref if it goes back


Free Kicks: Attacking

  1. Place the ball too far ahead (opponents may demand it be moved back)

  2. Clarify with the referee where the ball should go

  3. Always ask for 10 yards

      - If the wall moves forward after being set, have it be moved back.

  4. Set up to play a long ball, then go short into an open space

      - 2nd player should dribble toward corner

Corner Kicks

  1. If opponents do not give 10 yards, ask for it

  2. Send a 2nd player late

* Desperate Measure

  1. Play it short and shield in the corner again

      - Caution: Some opponents won't like this.  Be safe and aware a heavy challenge may be coming

Goal Kicks

* Desperate Measure

  1. Switch side it should be taken on


Various Time Considerations


During a game, situations will occur that may call for instant and sometimes drastic measures.


Stopping A Counter- -Attack

  1. Step in front of a goalkeeper

      - Once a save is made, the goalkeeper becomes the first attacker.  If she plays a quick pass, we may be left defending a counter-attack.

      - To play a long pass, a goalkeeper will need a few steps to build momentum for her distribution.  Step into her path, as if you’re trying to recover through an area in front of her.


* Desperate Measure

  1. Step in front of her short quick pass

      - It will be tougher to convince a ref this was an accident, but if it is 100% necessary to stop this break, you may need to do it.

  2. Step in front of a free kick

      - If our goalkeeper is caught out of position and they have recognized it, you’ll have to take one for the team.  If a quick free kick will put is numbers down, you may have to consider stopping it.


During An Injury

  1. When a player from our team has been injured and our opponent has clearly put a ball out of play so we can check on her, we will return the ball to them.

  2. If They Have Kicked The Ball Out For A Throw-In

      - We will throw it back to their furthest field-player back.

      - If it should be returned to their goalkeeper, we will throw it over the goal line for a goal kick.

      - If the player receives the ball near midfield, we will pressure her more quickly than we will if she receives the ball in her own defensive 3rd.

Be sportsmanlike, but don’t allow someone to serve a ball into our penalty box.

  3. If an opponent has been injured, we may put the ball out of play to allow her treatment.  Exceptions to this case are:

      - When the player has been injured (by no fault of ours) during a clear scoring opportunity for us

      - If the injury looks like a ploy to waste time or simply slow things down.

  4. If We Have Kicked A Ball Out For A Throw-In, . . .

      - . . . in our defending 3rd our goalkeeper should present herself for the ball and politely motion for a ball to her hands.

      - . . . in the midfield or attacking 3rd a central defender should give depth and present herself for the ball.

What To Do When You Are Up A Goal / Down A Goal

Although our style of play will not change simply because a goal has been scored either for or against us, there are times  our situation must be re-evaluated.


  1. Up A Goal Early

      - No real changes should be made


  2. Up A Goal Near The End Of The Half

      - Do not allow a goal that will level the score.  Goals scored at certain times (early / late in a half, right after another goal, etc.) have a bigger impact than goals scored at other times.

      - Only commit numbers to attacks that are higher percentage opportunities

      - Perhaps change the role of a central midfielder to a defensive central midfielder

      - Use the advice printed in the “How To Slow Things Down” section


  3. Up A Goal Near The End Of The Game

      - Do not allow a goal that will level the score

      - Only commit numbers to attacks that are higher percentage opportunities

      - Send fewer players forward on set pieces

      - Change the role of a central midfielder to a defensive central midfielder

      - Use the advice printed in the “How To Slow Things Down” section

      - Perhaps use the items listed as “Desperate Measures”


  4. Down A Goal Early

      - No real changes should be made


  5. Down A Goal Near The End Of Either Half

      - Do not allow another goal

      - Find forwards early

      - Get into the box

      - Try to earn set pieces

      - Commit numbers

      - Increase intensity

      - Use the advice printed in the “How To Speed Things Up” section

What To Do When You Are Up / Down A Player

Considerations for every situation should be made before determining a style of player when an opponent has been ejected, but the following are some general rules we will follow.


Up A Player / Down A Goal

  1. Opponents Lose A Player And Change To Fewer Attackers

      - We will likely commit more numbers to attacks

  2. Opponents Lose A Player, But Keep Same Number Of Attackers

      - We may still commit numbers to sustain attacks against a smaller defensive group.

      - Work toward 35 minutes of play in the half instead of 28.


Up A Player / Up A Goal

** It’s not uncommon for teams to play better after losing a player. **

Based on time and situation, we will tend toward keeping our defensive numbers and protecting our lead.  In essence, nothing will change.


Down A Player / Down A Goal

As time progresses we will be forced to add numbers to attacks as usual, however, in general:


  1. If We Use A Target

      - Target will have to receive passes on strong side where 1v1s occur more than numbers down situations and play is closer to end-lines and sidelines to create set pieces (where we can add numbers).

      - Target may stay central if she can receive a ball in or near the penalty area.


  2. Set Pieces Are Huge

      - Any situation where numbers can be added to attacks is in our favor.


Down A Player / Up A Goal

In General

  1. Keep Our Numbers In The Back

      - Add numbers as time nears the end (if needed)

  2. Do the things that take time.

      - Width in attack

      - Dribble to corners

      - Work toward 28 minutes of play in the half instead of 35


When Down A Player, Up A Goal, In An Evening Game, On The Road, In A Non-Conference Match, In The Rain, With Humidity Below 70%, Barometric Pressure at a Record High, With A Two-Man Officiating System, and Steve’s In The Port-A-Potty


Boot It!

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