Monday, June 16, 2014

Average American's Guide to Soccer Lingo

Thanks to the World Cup, many Americans are watching soccer and rooting for the U.S. team for the first time in four years. As we all know, it’s not enough to yell "GOAL" for two minutes straight without taking a breath when we score. You have to do your best to also sound like a real soccer fan during the rest of the game. 

While it's easy to remember the general rules – like no hands – some of the lingo may be a bit harder to understand. So here’s an unofficial guide to some of the terms thrown around by announcers and all of us soccer fans, alike.  

The Basics:

The Pitch – The field.
To be a real fan, you need to sound like a fan.

Pace – It just means speed. But if you want to sound like a loyal fan, you need to say things like, “That squad has a lot of pace.”

Nil – Zero: for example, Mexico won an exciting match 1 to nil.

Draw – a tie. (Gasp, they have ties in soccer!)  

Equalizer – a goal that ties the score. Simple enough.
Related to the Rules:

Regulation Time  -- This is the 90 minutes the game is played, made up of two 45 minute halves. Often just "Regulation."

Stoppage Time/Added Time – Actually, the game is played for at least 90 minutes. While the clock on the screen runs continuously, the official game time is kept by the official. Yes, it's meant to be confusing. He keeps track of time lost to goal celebrations, substitutions, and millionaires writhing in pain because someone stepped on their toe. He adds time at the end of the half, and the end of regulation, and then stops the game once he feels good and ready.

Extra Time – Not to be confused with added time, extra time is overtime. We’ll likely see lots of extra time once the knockout phase of the World Cup begins. Note: You can have added time that's added to extra time.

Booked, or booking – Whenever a player gets a yellow card, they are booked, as in the referee adds them to their little black book. In usage: “That was a justifiable booking.” Yellows are the official caution card in soccer. Two bookings and you’re sent off.

Sent Off – When a player gets a Red Card or two Yellows, they have to leave the game. They get “sent off.” Sending offs are severe, as the player can't be replaced and their team goes down a player, and their side has to play with just 10 men. The player "sent off" also has to miss subsequent games, though the teams can replace them in the next game.   

Offsides (updated) – A slightly confusing penalty that involves the number of defenders between an attacker and the goal. Basically, when the ball is advanced to you, you need one defender and the goalie (or 2 defenders total) between you and the goal. But it all depends on where they all are when the ball is played, not when you get it. It also matters how it's played, and by who, and whether the "offsides" player is involved in "the play," and yada, yada. Basically, it requires more words than I care to write. So, here's a link.

"A High Line" – Using the offsides rule to their advantage, many teams have their line of defenders creep up the field, making it more likely for offensive players to be called offsides when a pass comes their way. Also known as an offsides trap. Doing so is often described as "playing a high line."

Set Piece – Any “play” that starts with a free kick or corner kick where the offensive team has a chance to score. Teams practice set pieces, and will usually have a plan they are trying to enact, like scoring.

The Stripe – The little line 12 yards out from the goal where penalty kicks are taken from, wither due to penalties or tie games after regulation time and extra time. When a penalty happens in the box during the game, the referee will just point to the stripe, and announcers will say, "He's pointing to the stripe!"

Penalty Kick – We all should know this one, but it's a free kick from the stripe. Any penalty by a defender inside the penalty box can result in a penalty kick. Non-serious penalties inside the box are often ignored due to the severity of penalty kicks.

Terms To Show You Know A Bit More About Soccer:

First Touch – Used to describe how a player handles the ball when it comes to them. “He had a brilliant first touch.” Just to be clear, it’s not the first time a player touches the ball in the game, just on any given play. (Be careful, overuse of this phrase can take you rather quickly from soccer cool guy to soccer douchebag).

Clean Sheet – When a team or goalie records a shutout. Not necessarily a win, as it could still be a 0-0 tie. In usage, "If the score holds, this will be Costa Rica's second clean sheet of group play.
The "Counter" - Short for counter attack. Often times teams will play a defensive strategy, waiting for the right time to launch a counter attack -- usually after a failed corner kick, or some other play that brings the other team's players deep into their end. Usage: "Here they go on the counter."

Flick-On – A header that subtly redirects and advances the ball closer to the goal or toward another player. A player can also "flick" with their foot, in which it's a quick redirection pass. 

Ambitious – Soccer commentators love to give out subtle jabs, a common one being “Well, that was a bit ambitious.” That means someone shot from too far away, or passed it forward beyond the range of an attacker. Imagine a quarterback throwing a bomb way-over the receivers head on first and ten: That's ambitious. (It can also be used to describe an unnecessary slide tackle, which may result in a booking.)

Terms in International Play:

Cap – Earned for appearing in an international soccer game for your country. "Tim Howard has over 100 Caps."

Cap-committed – Once a player has played in a game for a national squad, they cannot switch and play for another. Several German-American dual citizens play on the U.S. team.  Once thy appear in a game for the U.S., they become cap-committed to the team. Yay!?

Friendly – Game held between two squads, usually national teams, in which nothing is at stake. Also, a fancy word for a scrimmage.

Advanced Lingo:

EPL – English Premiere League: The top professional league in England, and one of the most highest playing pro leagues, so lots of top world players play there. There are other top European leagues, including ones in Germany, Spain and Italy. These leagues are actually better than the EPL in some ways, but none of those can be abbreviated.

Tika Taka – A style of play made famous by the Barcelona FC professional team and the Spanish team. It’s the short, controlled, one-touch passing that make it look like your just playing with the other teams' minds.

False 9 – This one is tough. It describes a position on a team when that team plays without a true striker, and rather has a midfielder who moves forward into that role in attacking situations (they are the False 9). It’s the soccer equivalent of the Wildcat.

Ballon d'Or – This is the Golden Ball, given to world’s top player each year. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo won the latest Ballon d’Or.  Argentina’s Lionel Messi won the previous three. France’s Franck Ribery did not win it this year, and he was mad about it. Not to be confused with the "Maillot Jaune," which is the yellow jersey worn by the leader of the Tour De France.
And, here are a few Quick Compliments which can be blurted out randomly between sips of your beer to look like you know what you're watching:
"Nice Touch"
"Great Ball"

Now, good luck rooting for the American team. And remember, after the World Cup, you can just forget all these terms for another four years.


P.S. If there are any other confusing terms, let me know and I or another soccer geek will interpret, and it'll get posted here.

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Seth said...

You forgot to explain offside.

Larry said...

That helps a bit. I just don't know if I'll remember. Truthfully, I don't expect to watch much. While I'd like to see America win, I can't get into it. I have enough by watching the highlights.

Jack said...

One of the best/worst parts about working out of a home office is being able to play the games during the day.

Watched the Aussies almost upset Holland today and loved watching the US finally beat Ghana.

Cort Ruddy said...

Productivity is way down in this household, as well.