For many of these U-10 players this first game in their new team in a new season is the beginning of time, the beginning of their time as a soccer player. The kicking clusters around the ball of their earlier years are being replaced by growing physical skills, greater balance, and increased knowledge of the game.
Newark Youth Soccer League in California kicked off its fall season last Saturday with a game between the Brazilian Thunders and the Mavericks.
The Thunders fluorescent light green jerseys seemed ideal for helping players pick out team mates on the field, especially as their opponents were wearing red shirts. At this stage of the game anything that helps passing the ball is a good idea; at any stage of the game come to think of it.
After some initial player clumping on the left hand side of the field and some yelled instructions from both coaches to spread out the Thunders managed a couple of good forward moves with their #7 hitting a good shot at a tight angle into the side netting.
The Mavericks #10 made some crucial tackles to stop the Thunders getting into the box, while #12 made some good defensive blocks for the Thunders.
The Mavericks goalkeeper made a couple of good saves with his feet and both goalkeepers showed they weren’t afraid to go to ground and take the ball off strikers’ feet.
In the 15th minute the Thunders #9 broke through the Mavericks defense and hit a good shot just inside the post to make it 1-0 to the Thunders.
The Thunders were also showing some enterprise by picking off goal kicks before they reached the Mavericks midfield. One of these was taken by Thunders #1 who ran back towards the goal and hit a great shot past the Mavericks keeper. But the ref blew for offside.
Too bad the ref didn’t know that you can’t be offside from a corner, a throw-in or a goal kick. These were rules that were put in place by the International Football Association in 1866 and they still apply.
HT The Brazilian Thunders 1 The Mavericks 0
The second half was fast paced end-to-end game that had the crowd yelling. The Thunders were looking to increase their lead while the Mavericks were desperate to get back into the game.
The Mavericks goalkeeper was now playing as a striker and as a tall player he was a dangerous forward. But all of the Thunders ran and spread and passed and the Mavericks new goalkeeper made several good saves including one shot hit hard and high toward the top corner of the net that he grabbed and held.
As the game drew to a close and the number of subs increased it became clear that both of these teams were a shade off game fit yet, this being their first game of the season.
The game ended with a 1-0 victory to the Brazilian Thunders and the teams did a good job of congratulating each other on having played a great game.
I spoke to Brazilian Thunders head coach Frank Solar after the game.
LJS: “Coach, how did you feel the first game went?”
FS: “We’re still just getting to know each other. We need to practice positioning. The kids are just in the transition between everyone playing like Charlie Brown, everybody behind the ball. But they’re going to learn how to pass for sure. But they’re already moving the ball pretty well and they’re talking to each other so that’s key.”
LJS: “What will you be working on in training in preparation for the next game?”
FS: “For the next game, obviously throw-ins, even though we already practiced it, but the main thing will be positions.”
Next I spoke to The Brazilian Thunders #1 Vincent James
LJS: “How did you think the first game went, Vincent.”
VJ: “Good but it was an equal match. It was a good goal that we scored.”
LJS: Looking forward to the next game what do you think you guys will change about the next game?”
VJ: “We’ll probably play more as a team. Frank and everyone else will have a stronger idea how the team moves forward, how we work together, and it will be better.
Brazilian Thunders #1 Vincent James was unanimously voted Man of the Match by his Dad.