The Judgment-Free Soccer Questions Thread

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
20,528
Pittsburgh, PA
(update: this was moved from the 2022 World Cup forum to become a permanent part of the main Gazza board)

We've had some people in the daily World Cup game threads asking good questions, brought to soccer by the glamour of the World Cup and considering the sport from a casual perspective.

This is good. This is what participation in the World Cup ought to do, much as 1994 did it for me as a young kid. We like questions! And sometimes they get a bit buried in a game thread. So I'm making this a place for questions and even ideas about soccer that come from a place of wanting to understand better.

Question askers: Please don't frame something in a way that presumes the sport is dumb or that only an idiot would follow it. There are aspects of it that are, upon reflection, maybe a little dumb - but focus good-faith questions on one of those areas, rather than passing judgment yourself, please.

Question answerers: Please keep this a judgment-free zone - as long as questions are asked in good faith (i.e. aren't trying to imply that we should feel bad for loving global football), please reply with a welcoming spirit, and try to share and illuminate the joy that soccer can bring.
 
Last edited:

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
20,528
Pittsburgh, PA
I'll start by importing from yesterday's gamethread an aside about managers for club vs country. Graffam asked some good questions, got some good answers in that thread, and replied to my answer with this:

Are they calling fouls over the headset? Is that a thing? Fox commentators (Landon?) just said that.

And again, super interesting and helpful for us neophytes. Your last paragraph was very intriguing around Berhalter. Probably not the right thread for this, but do you think that's a symptom or outcome of the US system vs. the rest of world? Again, from some of the comments (game thread I know...) but MLS appears to be the AAA (at best?) of soccer. Like, if you're a stud, you want to end up in EPL, if top talent, but not a stud, somewhere in Europe. Better than the rest of us...MLS? Unless you are closing out your career and getting one last pay day (Beckam, Messi?, etc).

Thanks!
So firstly, the main thing the center referee is doing with his headset is talking to his assistants about what they see, and also to the video assistant referee if there are any outstanding questions about a play that deserve further scrutiny. You may see a ref hold up play when there's a pause (the ball goes out of play) for the VAR to review something quickly, and then play will resume - they were checking if there was in fact a foul in the box, or maybe a card wasn't given that should be, or something. Only if a VAR thinks the center ref got something obviously wrong, does he call over for the center ref to take a look himself (e.g. possible penalty kicks). The exception is factual questions such as offside: it's done with freeze-frame analysis in a central replay booth, and the result of that analysis is communicated to the ref, who of course can't be expected to assess it in real time. So if there's a goal scored and there's a question about offside, the ref will indicate to the players that a review is ongoing and then will signal the result of a video review (by drawing a rectangular screen with his hands) and either awarding the goal (pointing at the center spot), or indicating the play was offside (hand raised straight in the air). But no, the center ref is calling fouls himself, probably indicating them to his ref teammates (who fouled whom, for what offense), and maybe occasionally asking the input of his linesmen assistants. On the rare occasions that he's taking info rather than giving it, it's usually driven from a replay review.


As for Berhalter and "US system vs rest of world", the first thing I'll say is that every soccer fan (A) hates their national team coach and (B) thinks their FA (Football Association, national governing body for the sport and which runs the national teams) is corrupt and incompetent. So we can't necessarily judge by whether there's common criticism of USSF or Berhalter, because if you think USMNT Twitter is harsh on them, you should see what the Spanish say about RFEF, or the Argentines say about AFA, or (god help you) what African fans say about their FAs. FIFA's shittiness is merely a better-funded mirror of what underlying shittiness exists at all their member associations in each country. I would certainly say that the USSF is no worse than average, and is trying to develop the sport here in a very unusual context by world standards.

The USSF is dealing with a very hard legacy to manage around, specifically that when soccer was growing and spreading around the world in the early part of the 20th century, it got undermined here in the US by FIFA - it's a long story but basically FIFA was owned by Europeans and the US leagues were hiring away a bunch of European stars to play for their clubs and this made European clubs very angry because they wanted to keep their stars and underpay them. Spend 5 minutes and read this summary, and it'll explain to you how we were basically developing a soccer culture along with the rest of the world, and then it got reduced to ashes in the 1930s from FIFA-instigated infighting and political agendas, and didn't recover here for nearly 60 years. Several attempts to restart a pro soccer league were miserable failures, and Lamar Hunt (of KC Chiefs fame) learned from those failures and figured out how to create MLS in a way that would prevent a recurrence of those failures. It almost failed too, after launching in 1995 it hit a rocky period around 2001-2002 where it was unclear whether the league would survive, but Phil Anschutz of AEG fame was persuaded by Bob Kraft (the same) and Hunt et al to double down and reinvest, to fund bringing stars (particularly beginning with Beckham in 2007), and the league survived, gained momentum, began expanding, and it became clear sometime in the early 2010s that it would end up a huge success.

That outcome was by no means preordained, and the people who started MLS (e.g. Sunil Gulati, longtime president of USSF) and who run it today (particularly Don Garber, its now longtime commissioner), are very defensive about the particular ways in which they were created that is different than all the foreign leagues. The league is owned as a single entity, meaning the franchise owners just have shares in MLS as a whole, which grant them the right to operate various franchises; players are hired "by MLS", their contracts are with MLS, and they are assigned to the various teams; the allocation of those players entering MLS to teams is the basis for a bunch of arcane rules (one US Soccer-focused podcast is called "Allocation Disorder" for a reason), as is the various league salary-cap structures and exceptions which are NBA-like in their Byzantine qualities. And most of all, MLS franchises are not subject to relegation and promotion the way they are in every other country; finishing last in the league just means you get a bit less revenue and your fans grumble a bit more, but everywhere else it means your team is kicked out of the league and another one promoted in its place, which can frankly destroy teams. MLS is unusual, but not unique, in having a spring-to-fall schedule (most other leagues, particularly the big ones in Europe, play August-to-May - but they don't have super popular gridiron football, hockey and basketball leagues to compete with as winter sports). Anyway the important thing to remember is that MLS is quirky and this has created tension with the Federation, or accusations by fans that the Federation is too concerned with the financial interests of MLS, and not enough with trying to develop the country as a soccer country. This accusation was more true for a while than it is today, in that USSF as of last year no longer ties its media rights to those of MLS through "Soccer United Marketing" aka SUM. MLS has advanced as a business concern, and soccer has advanced as a sport played by millions in this country and with a legitimate talent pipeline for future pro players, but neither arc has been easy and both still have a lot of bugs to work out. Here's a good primer on the progress of youth soccer in this country.

With that as background, we can now answer your question. The "Big 5" European Leagues (the top divisions in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France, usually in that order) are the top levels of competition for the sport, with the EPL distinguishing itself from the rest financially, due to some wise business choices a few decades ago. Behind them are usually credited the top leagues of Portugal, the Netherlands, and then a bunch of others in oft-shifting and very arguable order, including the leagues of Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, Mexico, and so on. There is a pecking order, and top talents at lesser leagues / teams get bought by bigger teams in bigger leagues, particularly while they're young and still have upside to become better and be worth more when sold later on. MLS itself has gone from a farcical, semi-pro backwater at its founding, to a creditable (if less-skilled) pro league 20 or 15 years ago, to what is a rapidly ascending ranking today - #13 at KickAlgor above, #15 at GFR. Once derided as a "Retirement league" where the league would pay a lot of money for over-the-hill European stars, those stars are now finding that it is actually a pretty high standard. Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, a veteran of some of the best clubs in the world, has said that he thought he could come over and play (for Miami) "with a cigarette in his mouth", and learned that he was very, very wrong. Gareth Bale, the longtime Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid star forward who was Wales' most-dangerous player for much of last Monday's World Cup match against the USA, came over to LAFC this summer directly from Real Madrid and... didn't even start, he was a sub off the bench for much of the latter half of 2022, because he wasn't "90 minutes fit" to the level required by MLS. These are anecdotes, but are indications of how much more competitive the league is today, and that it keeps taking people aback with its progress.

So MLS has become less and less of a joke over the last decade-plus. It's now a springboard where young promising talents that you'll see on the field for the USMNT (particularly including Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson and many others who aren't starting in Qatar) can develop, begin to shine, and then get bought by big teams in the Big 5. Such movement at an age young enough that someone could still become a truly world-class player used to be very rare - Clint Dempsey spent years in college, then 3 years in MLS, before moving to Fulham in 2006 at age 23; Brad Guzan likewise went to college and then did 4 years in MLS before moving to Aston Villa in 2008 (and didn't really become an every-game starter in the EPL until age 27). Adams moved to a Champions League-level club (Leipzig) in 2018 at age 18, Aaronson likewise to Salzburg in 2021 at 19, and after 4 and 1.5 years respectively they are both now shining in the EPL for Leeds. Having that level of attention and respect given to performance in a lower-tier national league, where its young stars get bought and then deliver for big European clubs, is something that has long existed for Brazil / Argentina, eastern Europe and north africa, and to a lesser extent southern Africa. It had to be earned the hard way for MLS, because a ton of anti-American bias has prevented Big 5 clubs and fans from taking US soccer players seriously. It is a major milestone to see that our youth development engine can crank out those kind of talents on an annual basis, and not just some freak exception like Pulisic who was able to move to Dortmund at age 16 due to holding a European passport.

You can't really view it through the lens of US-sport farm leagues, though. The purpose of the minor leagues in baseball is just to develop talent; those teams don't really compete for anything. The leagues that are "selling leagues" who make talent development and sale part of their business model, are also trying to compete. FC Dallas takes the huge proceeds from their player sales and reinvests into both the team's development engine and the senior team, and tries to win (though in their particular case, they have proven better at developing talent than at winning in MLS). The same is true for those second-tier leagues in Europe and South America, or even for third-tier places that nevertheless get scouted. So they will sell a player, but only for an amount that lets them buy additional talent to improve the squad. Usually an equilibrium is reached, but for a while, MLS talent was very under-priced, you could acquire future Big 5-level players for only a couple million dollars, as opposed to having to pay several times that for (say) a young star in the Belgian league. Prices for young MLS talent are catching up to their quality level, but are still good value buys - Paxten Aaronson, for example, may have just gone for a steal to Frankfurt ($4M + add-ons), even if Ricardo Pepi was sold to Augsburg for well over a reasonable valuation for him last year ($20M) and Augsburg is likely to eventually take a loss on him, though not a write-off. Anyway, the analogy I'd use is NBA teams scouting EuroLeague basketball clubs for top young talent that is outside the NBA, or to a lesser extent, NPB teams posting baseball players up for auction to MLB. They're already professionals, performing for a paycheck, and the selling team just sees more value in the sale to a deeper-pocketed team than in retaining them.

Hope that helps.
 
Last edited:

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,204
Somers, CT

Saints Rest

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Here's the full tiebreaker setup:
https://www.espn.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup/story/4812365/world-cup-22-tiebreakers-group-stage-points-level-explained

1. Points
2. Goal Differential
3. Goals Scored
4. Head to Head
5. Fair Play (fewest cards)
6. Drawing of Lots (seriously)
Wow. It seems like they could have some other "in-game stats" that would be more fair than Drawing of Lots. "Most corner kicks taken" or "Corner Kick Differential" or "Time of possession" seem as good as Fair Play. But in my scenario, Items 1-4 would all be tied.
 

graffam198

dog lover
SoSH Member
Dec 10, 2007
1,646
Reno, NV
Thank you so much! This is a wonderful primer. 10 years ago I could have told you "High Kicking, Low Scoring, ties, you betcha". Once my kids started playing it was "Kick, run, don't use your hands". Now I am playing catch-up and this community has provided so much in just a few short days.
 

graffam198

dog lover
SoSH Member
Dec 10, 2007
1,646
Reno, NV
Wow. It seems like they could have some other "in-game stats" that would be more fair than Drawing of Lots. "Most corner kicks taken" or "Corner Kick Differential" or "Time of possession" seem as good as Fair Play. But in my scenario, Items 1-4 would all be tied.
Honestly, I was going to answer incorrectly, so this is good. Do PKs only come into play once we get out of group play? My experience with FIFA rules are youth tournament where you go on points (fair play is built in, youth tournaments you lose points for red cards). Once you exhaust Points, GD, GF, GA, H2H, you go to a PK shootout. 5 shots per team. In a 3 way team, there is literally a coin toss between the three teams to determine the two that go to shoot outs.
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
20,528
Pittsburgh, PA
Yes, matches in the World Cup and most such competitions in club only advance to extra time and then a penalty shoot-out in knockout rounds. Group-stage rounds end in ties after 90 minutes.
 

singaporesoxfan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2004
11,750
Washington, DC
Wow. It seems like they could have some other "in-game stats" that would be more fair than Drawing of Lots. "Most corner kicks taken" or "Corner Kick Differential" or "Time of possession" seem as good as Fair Play. But in my scenario, Items 1-4 would all be tied.
To be fair, they've only had to go to Drawing of Lots once (Ireland was given 2nd place over Netherlands in 1990), and even then both teams qualified for the next round
 

wilked

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
3,857
I’ll give a question I had and the answer I learned.

Q: what language do referees use to communicate?
A: First, refs can call the game with hand gestures so technically don’t need to speak other than into their headsets. Practically though they do communicate with players and team captains. English is the language most commonly used and a FIFA requirement for its referees.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
29,495
Have there been any serious movement to change the penalty kick rules at all?

Numbers I've seen is that the team that as PKs are about 75% successful and a team that scores a penalty kick wins are something like winners or draws 85% of the time; seems absurd that a rules system could be set up so that one call could have such an outsized impact on the outcome of the game.
 

graffam198

dog lover
SoSH Member
Dec 10, 2007
1,646
Reno, NV
Another question!

Lineups. Brazil started the game 4-4-2 (as posted on fox) but the sheet now has them playing a 4-1-2-3. Is this a best guess? Do managers submit a roster / formation before kickoff on both halves? Obviously formations change and flow based on the game, just curious
 

graffam198

dog lover
SoSH Member
Dec 10, 2007
1,646
Reno, NV
Have there been any serious movement to change the penalty kick rules at all?

Numbers I've seen is that the team that as PKs are about 75% successful and a team that scores a penalty kick wins are something like winners or draws 85% of the time; seems absurd that a rules system could be set up so that one call could have such an outsized impact on the outcome of the game.
FIFA was trialing a different format on PK shootouts. Like a PK, generally the winners of the shoot first in PK coin toss win the shootout (like 80% or something like that). They went from A-B-A-B to A-B-B-A-A-B-B in a trial phase.
 

Jim Ed Rice in HOF

Red-headed Skrub child
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2005
7,740
Seacoast NH
As the target audience for this thread, the WC check in viewer, is there any reason they don't do anything about the blatant diving that takes place? I was watching a match over the weekend and there was a contested header where three or four guys went up and one guy went down grabbing his nose like he'd been hit. Replay clearly showed no one within like a foot of touching his face but he's there writhing around on the ground like Tyson had hit him. @InstaFace, you mention the center referee having a headset, why can't he get real time info that it was a complete dive and have it called? Obviously challenges where guys get tripped up and grab their legs because there is true contact wouldn't be as cut and dried but watching that play over the weekend doesn't give soccer the best look.
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,204
Somers, CT
Another question!

Lineups. Brazil started the game 4-4-2 (as posted on fox) but the sheet now has them playing a 4-1-2-3. Is this a best guess? Do managers submit a roster / formation before kickoff on both halves? Obviously formations change and flow based on the game, just curious
Managers submit a team sheet with names and player numbers. The broadcast teams will look at personnel and a team's history and then make a best guess as to the formation. The formation will be adjusted based on what is observed.
 

Van Everyman

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2009
26,141
Newton
Ok as someone who doesn’t watch a lot of soccer unless the World Cup or Ted Lasso counts, I’ll bite with two:

1) Why does the sport obfuscate the whole clock/stoppage time issue? I guess the broadcasts have finally started adding “+5” or whatever to the game clock as it approaches 90 minutes. But I struggle to understand the point of effectively hiding how much time is left.Can someone help?

2) Has there been a concerted effort to crack down on all the diving and flopping? I turned on the second half of the US-England game and it was just constant whistles and stoppages. I know this bothers some posters to bring up in game (sorry, @SocrManiac) so I’ll do it here. But it seems to be a consistent feature of the men’s game – and by contrast has felt almost nonexistent in the women’s World Cup’s I’ve watched.

Fake edit, I see the latter question has also been asked.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
35,122
Hingham, MA
Can someone give an overview of positions and formations? E.g., what is a false 9? Or when someone says “Musah is not an 8” (I think that has come up?), what does that mean?

An overview of 4-4-2, 4-3-3, etc. would also be appreciated.

I follow the USMNT throughout the entire cycle, and I played in high school, but I’ve never been really clear on this stuff. I’m guessing a 4-3-3 looks lot different at this level than it did in high school.
 

teddykgb

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
10,884
Chelmsford, MA
I don’t know of any serious moves to change PKs in game if that’s what you’re asking. Yes, a Pk has incredible impact on outcomes but where you seem to think there’s injustice in that I tend to see it as a feature not a bug.

We know from all the areas that are not the box that players are capable of doing extremely cynical things to prevent a scoring chance. Scoring chances are incredibly hard to create and the sport is at its best when magical things are happening in the final 3rd and the large penalty box defines an area where there just aren’t any shenanigans allowed. The outsized influence in outcome rewards a team who attacks and takes away the incentive to play cynically in a large important area of the pitch. Football with a smaller penalty area or with some type of different judgement call standard in the box would become far more park the bus oriented and imo it would kill a lot of what makes the sport fantastic. The cost of all of that is The occasionally harsh handball/dive call and I think that is more than worth it
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,204
Somers, CT
Can someone give an overview of positions and formations? E.g., what is a false 9? Or when someone says “Musah is not an 8” (I think that has come up?), what does that mean?

An overview of 4-4-2, 4-3-3, etc. would also be appreciated.

I follow the USMNT throughout the entire cycle, and I played in high school, but I’ve never been really clear on this stuff. I’m guessing a 4-3-3 looks lot different at this level than it did in high school.
This is a fantastic question and any response will be a massive book.

This looks like a decent primer from a respected tactics site: https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/football-tactics-formations-explained-442-433-451-4231-most-common-how-beat-them

Edit: I only answered part of your question.

The position/number thing, as I understand it, goes back to when a team only had 11 numbers. When there was a sub, they'd put on the number of the position they'd be playing. This is why goalkeepers are traditionally 1.

Here are more links: https://www.soccercoachingpro.com/soccer-position-numbers/ or https://soccerballworld.com/soccer-numbers-positions/
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
52,027
Ok as someone who doesn’t watch a lot of soccer unless the World Cup or Ted Lasso counts, I’ll bite with two:

1) Why does the sport obfuscate the whole clock/stoppage time issue? I guess the broadcasts have finally started adding “+5” or whatever to the game clock as it approaches 90 minutes. But I struggle to understand the point of effectively hiding how much time is left.Can someone help?
There's been calls to go to a clock that stops at certain moments, but no idea how serious that is. NCAA soccer has a clock that can be stopped by the ref at certain times, and the half ends exactly when the clock hits 0:00. But with no specific end teams can't waste time knowing 100% that a game will end.

It started a long time ago when there was a PK awarded in a game and the team that would be defending the PK kicked the ball away, and the time ran out.

On Saturday, November 21, 1891, English teams Aston Villa and Stoke were playing against each other when the referee awarded Stoke a penalty kick in the last few moments of the game. Aston Villa was winning at this point, and a goal for Stoke would have tied the game.

Because there was no allowance for time lost at this time in the history of soccer, the goalkeeper decided he would kick the ball out of play. He was fully aware that by the time someone had retrieved the ball, the game time would be over, and Stoke would be unable to take their penalty kick.

Obviously, the Stoke players and fans felt this was incredibly unfair, and the English Football Association agreed. Soon after this event, the rules were changed, and stoppage time became part of the rules of soccer we know today.
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
23,030
Wow. It seems like they could have some other "in-game stats" that would be more fair than Drawing of Lots. "Most corner kicks taken" or "Corner Kick Differential" or "Time of possession" seem as good as Fair Play. But in my scenario, Items 1-4 would all be tied.
They should have a 4-way PK shootout in that case. That would be wild. Even to the point about logistics....I mean hey...you want to avoid that, don't finish in that crazy tie!

Also....why don't they put teams from the same pool in the same location? Or do they? If they already DO....then logistics aren't an issue. If they don't....why the heck not?
 

BrazilianSoxFan

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 11, 2006
3,664
Brasil
Ok as someone who doesn’t watch a lot of soccer unless the World Cup or Ted Lasso counts, I’ll bite with two:

1) Why does the sport obfuscate the whole clock/stoppage time issue? I guess the broadcasts have finally started adding “+5” or whatever to the game clock as it approaches 90 minutes. But I struggle to understand the point of effectively hiding how much time is left.Can someone help?

...
There isn't any obfuscation on when the game will end. The game just doesn't have a strictly defined duration, it's at the discretion of the referee. They can even end the game before 90 minutes if they decide so.
 

graffam198

dog lover
SoSH Member
Dec 10, 2007
1,646
Reno, NV
This is a fantastic question and any response will be a massive book.

This looks like a decent primer from a respected tactics site: https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/football-tactics-formations-explained-442-433-451-4231-most-common-how-beat-them

Edit: I only answered part of your question.

The position/number thing, as I understand it, goes back to when a team only had 11 numbers. When there was a sub, they'd put on the number of the position they'd be playing. This is why goalkeepers are traditionally 1.

Here are more links: https://www.soccercoachingpro.com/soccer-position-numbers/ or https://soccerballworld.com/soccer-numbers-positions/
Paging you to the coaches corner as well :)

Thanks for this, good reading for us weekend warrior soccer fans.
 

teddykgb

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
10,884
Chelmsford, MA
Can someone give an overview of positions and formations? E.g., what is a false 9? Or when someone says “Musah is not an 8” (I think that has come up?), what does that mean?

An overview of 4-4-2, 4-3-3, etc. would also be appreciated.

I follow the USMNT throughout the entire cycle, and I played in high school, but I’ve never been really clear on this stuff. I’m guessing a 4-3-3 looks lot different at this level than it did in high school.
Historically positions were numbered 1-11 starting from the GK. This is also why some numbers are considered “better” and players want the #10, #4,#9 etc.

There are many different formations but if you play a back four your defenders would be the 2, 3,4 (both CB) and 5. The midfielders are 6-8. People tend to use these numbers as shorthand for the positions played traditionally by those numbers. So a #8 is short hand for a true center midfielder who can defend and attack while a #6 is shorthand for a midfielder who is really only interested in defending. A #10 is a creative midfielder who has basically no interest in defending. A false 9 is a player who lines up as a 9 (striker) but basically abandons the traditional striker responsibilities and drops deeper into midfield to participate in build up play and pass the ball more.

essentialky the numbers are used as shorthand for player archetypes and instructions for their roles
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
20,528
Pittsburgh, PA
Have there been any serious movement to change the penalty kick rules at all?

Numbers I've seen is that the team that as PKs are about 75% successful and a team that scores a penalty kick wins are something like winners or draws 85% of the time; seems absurd that a rules system could be set up so that one call could have such an outsized impact on the outcome of the game.
There have been serious suggestions from serious analysts about it, but no serious attempts to alter it. On the one hand there are traditionalists arguing that if it was good enough for Pele it should be good enough for us, dadgummit, and on the other hand people wanting to make sure that the defenders are sufficiently disincentivized from fouling in the box, because if they're not, then almost nobody is ever going to be allowed to score from open play. Arguments about "well it's 0.80 xG awarded for a 0.20 xG opportunity and..." just get a "SHUT UP NERD" reply from most people in positions of footballing authority.

I personally would favor:

(A) two zones in the box, one of which results in a spot kick from 12 yards, and the outer of which results in a spot kick from something where scoring is more 50-50, maybe 18 yards or player's choice of angle on an arc or something. And,
(B) the player drawing the foul has to take the kick, unless they are subbed out entirely due to injury. Like free throws in basketball.

But then again, I also favor adopting the old-school MLS penalty shootout style, which was 10x as exciting: the shooter gets the ball at midfield, with only the opposing keeper on his line at the whistle, and gets 5 seconds (and one shot) to score or fail. In-game penalty kicks are one thing, but if you're trying to decide a match that has ended level after 90 or 120 minutes and the players can't realistically continue, why not have the deciding event look more like actual soccer? That seems like something that would have stood a chance if Chuck Blazer were still around, because for all his corruption, he knew a fun idea that would play well when he saw one.
 

singaporesoxfan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2004
11,750
Washington, DC
Have there been any serious movement to change the penalty kick rules at all?

Numbers I've seen is that the team that as PKs are about 75% successful and a team that scores a penalty kick wins are something like winners or draws 85% of the time; seems absurd that a rules system could be set up so that one call could have such an outsized impact on the outcome of the game.
Underlying this is that soccer has a different rules philosophy from American football and other American sports. Where American sports often penalize relative to the severity of the offense, soccer has a deterrence philosophy that discourages unwanted behaviour by letting everyone know that there's a possibility of an overly harsh punishment, which discourages defenders from hacking away in the box or putting their hands up to block the ball when it's near the goal. Think about how the solution for ending back passes to the goalie was an indirect free kick at the point of the foul - this is a major punishment relative to the actual offense, and it's been extremely effective
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,204
Somers, CT
But then again, I also favor adopting the old-school MLS penalty shootout style, which was 10x as exciting: the shooter gets the ball at midfield, with only the opposing keeper on his line at the whistle, and gets 5 seconds (and one shot) to score or fail. In-game penalty kicks are one thing, but if you're trying to decide a match that has ended level after 90 or 120 minutes and the players can't realistically continue, why not have the deciding event look more like actual soccer? That seems like something that would have stood a chance if Chuck Blazer were still around, because for all his corruption, he knew a fun idea that would play well when he saw one.
I fucking loved MLS shootouts and hate that they're gone.

I'll also argue that goalkeepers that were forced to face this became better at their craft. Split second decisions to attack or hold, how to make the body big, the ability to influence an attacker... A lot came from this.
 

singaporesoxfan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2004
11,750
Washington, DC
On the one hand there are traditionalists arguing that if it was good enough for Pele it should be good enough for us, dadgummit, and on the other hand people wanting to make sure that the defenders are sufficiently disincentivized from fouling in the box, because if they're not, then almost nobody is ever going to be allowed to score from open play.
These are the same hands! Or at least arguing for the same conclusion
 

MiracleOfO2704

not AWOL
SoSH Member
Jul 12, 2005
9,327
The Island
Historically positions were numbered 1-11 starting from the GK. This is also why some numbers are considered “better” and players want the #10, #4,#9 etc.

There are many different formations but if you play a back four your defenders would be the 2, 3,4 (both CB) and 5. The midfielders are 6-8. People tend to use these numbers as shorthand for the positions played traditionally by those numbers. So a #8 is short hand for a true center midfielder who can defend and attack while a #6 is shorthand for a midfielder who is really only interested in defending. A #10 is a creative midfielder who has basically no interest in defending. A false 9 is a player who lines up as a 9 (striker) but basically abandons the traditional striker responsibilities and drops deeper into midfield to participate in build up play and pass the ball more.

essentialky the numbers are used as shorthand for player archetypes and instructions for their roles
To complicate things further, I saw a video (I believe it was by tifo) that points out that different countries would number their positions differently, so nothing translates directly.

Edit: it was Tifo:
View: https://youtu.be/hFtXAGVJr20
 
Last edited:

teddykgb

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
10,884
Chelmsford, MA
One thing I’d add onto my last post is that what makes a truly great defender in this sport isn’t necessarily size, speed, strength. Of course those all help but it’s consistency and craft. Defenders basically can’t ever make mistakes. The best ones have incredible judgement, positioning, vision. They always win the ball back somehow when it takes a ricochet in the tackle. They sense danger and cut it out and take the ball without overly contacting the man. When you understand what you’re looking at and for it can transform how you see the sport.

Another way of looking at this is that if you take your average athlete and ask them to play soccer you can put them in midfield or attack and they can usually do something that contributes even if not experienced. You put someone like that in back and they turn into Bambi on ice and the entire team falls apart
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
20,528
Pittsburgh, PA
As the target audience for this thread, the WC check in viewer, is there any reason they don't do anything about the blatant diving that takes place? I was watching a match over the weekend and there was a contested header where three or four guys went up and one guy went down grabbing his nose like he'd been hit. Replay clearly showed no one within like a foot of touching his face but he's there writhing around on the ground like Tyson had hit him. @InstaFace, you mention the center referee having a headset, why can't he get real time info that it was a complete dive and have it called? Obviously challenges where guys get tripped up and grab their legs because there is true contact wouldn't be as cut and dried but watching that play over the weekend doesn't give soccer the best look.
Fixing diving is one of the things that I expect FIFA / IFAB to deal with at some point, but it's never been a priority and it's such a cultural aspect of how the sport is taught (Both explicitly and also implicitly by everyone seeing what happens) - it's a very sticky practice. Refs have gotten better about not getting fooled all the time, and if they call (say) a red card on what was a blatant dive, they can now review it. Arjen Robben flagrantly faking a foul in the box for the deciding PK that knocked out Mexico in the 2014 World Cup probably would not happen today, it would probably be overturned on video review. Same with Maradona's "Hand of God" goal, where he handled the ball as he made the run but the ref didn't see it. So VAR (despite all its critics) has at least taken away the worst of the game-changing instances of diving.

But this is one of the aspects of soccer which offends the sensibilities of American fans (including me!) far more than it offends those of other countries, where taking advantage of the rules and trying to game the system is viewed as a positive personality trait... get everything you can out of life, have some chutzpah, push the envelope. There was a lengthy obituary of Maradona, maybe on The Ringer, which went into detail about how much that was an appreciated cultural trait in Argentina (rather than viewed as something un-sporting and even un-manly in the US). If you come from an impoverished background playing on the streets and football is your way out of that life, it's a lot easier to understand why as you grew up you'd be permitted, even encouraged, to get every advantage for yourself and your team on the field, whether deserved or not.

There is technically a rule on the books about getting carded for "simulation", and I have seen it given a half dozen times over the last few years of watching the Big 5 leagues, but it should be given at least 10x as often as it is if the leagues really wanted to reduce its prevalence.

One of my handful of "serious suggestions for improving soccer" would be to go from 1 center referee to 3 on-field referees (plus the 2 linesmen). With 3 refs, there should pretty much always been someone who has good perspective on a big play, and they can quickly huddle to decide on making a call. It would doubtless be an awkward transition, though, and you really don't want it to change the free-flowing nature of the game by over-legislating it (we do have a tendency to do that with our sports), but I believe it can be done and would help.
 

teddykgb

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
10,884
Chelmsford, MA
Why the delay in raising the offside flag?
Since the introduction of VAR they have instructed linesmen to not flag offside unless they are 1000% sure. The flag going up stops play and may stop a goal scoring opportunity. Instead they let the play continue then raise the flag when the play ends so that Var can have a look
 

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
29,068
One thing I’d add onto my last post is that what makes a truly great defender in this sport isn’t necessarily size, speed, strength. Of course those all help but it’s consistency and craft. Defenders basically can’t ever make mistakes. The best ones have incredible judgement, positioning, vision. They always win the ball back somehow when it takes a ricochet in the tackle. They sense danger and cut it out and take the ball without overly contacting the man. When you understand what you’re looking at and for it can transform how you see the sport.

Another way of looking at this is that if you take your average athlete and ask them to play soccer you can put them in midfield or attack and they can usually do something that contributes even if not experienced. You put someone like that in back and they turn into Bambi on ice and the entire team falls apart
One of the analysts made that point w/r/t the skills and confidence necessary to putting a forward offside when every fiber in their being says "make sure you keep up with him like an NFL cornerback."
 

singaporesoxfan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2004
11,750
Washington, DC
Why the delay in raising the offside flag?
Look at the 2nd Cameroon goal today against Serbia. Every commentator thought it was offside, even Aboubakar might have thought he was offside. Much better to have let it play through and result in a legitimate and great goal, instead of raising the offside flag and negating goals. Let VAR determine offsidedness

I think commentators make too much of the delay - they seem to think someone is going to pull a hamstring or get his ankles hacked down each time there's a delayed offside.
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,204
Somers, CT
As the target audience for this thread, the WC check in viewer, is there any reason they don't do anything about the blatant diving that takes place? I was watching a match over the weekend and there was a contested header where three or four guys went up and one guy went down grabbing his nose like he'd been hit. Replay clearly showed no one within like a foot of touching his face but he's there writhing around on the ground like Tyson had hit him. @InstaFace, you mention the center referee having a headset, why can't he get real time info that it was a complete dive and have it called? Obviously challenges where guys get tripped up and grab their legs because there is true contact wouldn't be as cut and dried but watching that play over the weekend doesn't give soccer the best look.
Also @Van Everyman

I'm a pretty well-known and vocal asshole around these parts for my hatred of diving, but it doesn't end there. It's part of a linked trifecta in my mind: diving, cynical challenges (pushing after the play, low bridges, general chippiness), and time wasting. Chances are if a team is known for one, it will be guilty of all three.

The key problem, as I see it, is that the rules to punish and eliminate it already exist. There either aren't enough eyes on the pitch to allow the referees to have confidence to throw around the cards or the referees simply don't see it as the problem that I (we) do. Issuing a simulation card for a legit foul is as bad a refereeing error as giving a penalty for a dive, though the impact on the game is nowhere near the same.

I would love to see a panel of players/refs issuing penalties for simulation. I don't think it can realistically happen during a match, but after a few weeks of retrospective cards and bans the problem will take care of itself.

The approach we're seeing here for time wasting is interesting. There has been a combination of cards for deliberate wasting and additional added time. I think that will strike the balance that we need if the time is consistently applied. There will be no point in taking forever on a goal kick or making a late game sub to burn clock.
 

singaporesoxfan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2004
11,750
Washington, DC
One of the analysts made that point w/r/t the skills and confidence necessary to putting a forward offside when every fiber in their being says "make sure you keep up with him like an NFL cornerback."
On a related note, I think it's flirting with danger for an international team without much experience playing together and with defenders who don't always play that far up front to try to play a high line. Beating the offside trap is a matter of a single step and the defenders don't always have the timing just right
 

MiracleOfO2704

not AWOL
SoSH Member
Jul 12, 2005
9,327
The Island
The approach we're seeing here for time wasting is interesting. There has been a combination of cards for deliberate wasting and additional added time.
I really thing this was an edict from FIFA: be strict when the referee stops his watch, creating more added time, and blowing the whistle when the watch reads 45. That’d explain both the 10 minutes added to the 2nd half of Ghana-RoK and the sudden stop when RoK had won a corner.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
22,071
Philadelphia
Can someone give an overview of positions and formations? E.g., what is a false 9? Or when someone says “Musah is not an 8” (I think that has come up?), what does that mean?

An overview of 4-4-2, 4-3-3, etc. would also be appreciated.

I follow the USMNT throughout the entire cycle, and I played in high school, but I’ve never been really clear on this stuff. I’m guessing a 4-3-3 looks lot different at this level than it did in high school.
An important broad point is that formations are not really the same as tactics. They give a little bit of a general sense of how the players might line up on the field. But they don't actually tell you much about how the players will be coached to align in specific game situations or parts of play.

For example, a team might play a "4-3-3". But when they are comfortably in possession in the opposing half they will be looking to get into a 2-3-5 or 3-2-5 structure, with five players spread across the forward line, 2-3 midfielders spread out behind looking to circulate the ball, and 2-3 players at the back. And when they have lost the ball and fall back into their own half to defend, that team may eventually settle into a 4-4-2 defensive posture, with two lines of four creating a defensive wall and two players ahead of them looking to cut down passing lanes or to be ready to spring forward on the counter attack. This doesn't even get into how the team might be shaped if they are pressing high (ie, trying to win the ball back close to the opponent's goal) or trying to beat the press (ie, trying to advance the ball forward starting near their own goal).

In some ways, the formation tells you more about the types of players the team includes than the specific structure of the players on the pitch. It's a little bit like American football in that respect.
 

CreightonGubanich

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 13, 2006
1,359
north shore, MA
I fucking loved MLS shootouts and hate that they're gone.

I'll also argue that goalkeepers that were forced to face this became better at their craft. Split second decisions to attack or hold, how to make the body big, the ability to influence an attacker... A lot came from this.
Agreed. Somewhat strangely, the indoor soccer place I've been playing at for 20 years decided to adopt the 1-v-1 shootout approach in lieu of PK's this season. I can't find anything broader in terms of official rules on that issue, so it must have been an in-house decision. As a goalkeeper, I love it. I think it utilizes a completely different set of skills and less random luck. I feel I have a considerably better shot at saving a 1-v-1 than I would a PK from the spot.
 

singaporesoxfan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2004
11,750
Washington, DC
Also @Van Everyman

I'm a pretty well-known and vocal asshole around these parts for my hatred of diving, but it doesn't end there. It's part of a linked trifecta in my mind: diving, cynical challenges (pushing after the play, low bridges, general chippiness), and time wasting. Chances are if a team is known for one, it will be guilty of all three.

The key problem, as I see it, is that the rules to punish and eliminate it already exist. There either aren't enough eyes on the pitch to allow the referees to have confidence to throw around the cards or the referees simply don't see it as the problem that I (we) do. Issuing a simulation card for a legit foul is as bad a refereeing error as giving a penalty for a dive, though the impact on the game is nowhere near the same.

I would love to see a panel of players/refs issuing penalties for simulation. I don't think it can realistically happen during a match, but after a few weeks of retrospective cards and bans the problem will take care of itself.

The approach we're seeing here for time wasting is interesting. There has been a combination of cards for deliberate wasting and additional added time. I think that will strike the balance that we need if the time is consistently applied. There will be no point in taking forever on a goal kick or making a late game sub to burn clock.
I think this is the best approach for simulation. It's too hard for a ref in real time to catch every case of simulation and to properly distinguish it from cases where there's actual contact and the person fouled is simply making a bit more of a meal of it to make sure the referee knows there was contact.

My personal view is that the latter (going ham actor on an actual foul) is more common than diving and irritates Americans a lot, but isn't actually a problem except aesthetically
 

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
29,068
I think this is the best approach for simulation. It's too hard for a ref in real time to catch every case of simulation and to properly distinguish it from cases where there's actual contact and the person fouled is simply making a bit more of a meal of it to make sure the referee knows there was contact.

My personal view is that the latter (going ham actor on an actual foul) is more common than diving and irritates Americans a lot, but isn't actually a problem except aesthetically
Based on my own viewing experience as (I've watched more in the last 5 years than in the previous 55) I have come to appreciate that studs' contact with flesh, bone or the top of a boot can hurt a shitload more than I ever realized.
 

scott bankheadcase

I'm adequate!!
SoSH Member
Nov 1, 2006
2,872
hoboken
(B) the player drawing the foul has to take the kick, unless they are subbed out entirely due to injury. Like free throws in basketball.
I would love this. Great idea.

But, there's a lot of contracts that would have to be ripped up and re-done before it could be implemented.
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,204
Somers, CT
Based on my own viewing experience as (I've watched more in the last 5 years than in the previous 55) I have come to appreciate that studs' contact with flesh, bone or the top of a boot can hurt a shitload more than I ever realized.
And modern boots (soccer cleats) are practically socks now. They offer almost no protection in favor of improved touch/feel on the ball.
 

Van Everyman

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2009
26,141
Newton
Also @Van Everyman

I'm a pretty well-known and vocal asshole around these parts for my hatred of diving, but it doesn't end there. It's part of a linked trifecta in my mind: diving, cynical challenges (pushing after the play, low bridges, general chippiness), and time wasting. Chances are if a team is known for one, it will be guilty of all three.

The key problem, as I see it, is that the rules to punish and eliminate it already exist. There either aren't enough eyes on the pitch to allow the referees to have confidence to throw around the cards or the referees simply don't see it as the problem that I (we) do. Issuing a simulation card for a legit foul is as bad a refereeing error as giving a penalty for a dive, though the impact on the game is nowhere near the same.

I would love to see a panel of players/refs issuing penalties for simulation. I don't think it can realistically happen during a match, but after a few weeks of retrospective cards and bans the problem will take care of itself.

The approach we're seeing here for time wasting is interesting. There has been a combination of cards for deliberate wasting and additional added time. I think that will strike the balance that we need if the time is consistently applied. There will be no point in taking forever on a goal kick or making a late game sub to burn clock.
Great reply, thanks. Do you have any thoughts on the second part of that question – which is, why is it seemingly only a problem in men’s soccer?

BTW, the NBA hasn’t solved this problem either, so it’s obviously easier said than done. But in that sport, two fouls on a star player early on in the contest can fundamentally change the course of the game because he has to go the bench.
 

BrazilianSoxFan

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 11, 2006
3,664
Brasil
Fixing diving is one of the things that I expect FIFA / IFAB to deal with at some point, but it's never been a priority and it's such a cultural aspect of how the sport is taught (Both explicitly and also implicitly by everyone seeing what happens) - it's a very sticky practice. Refs have gotten better about not getting fooled all the time, and if they call (say) a red card on what was a blatant dive, they can now review it. Arjen Robben flagrantly faking a foul in the box for the deciding PK that knocked out Mexico in the 2014 World Cup probably would not happen today, it would probably be overturned on video review. Same with Maradona's "Hand of God" goal, where he handled the ball as he made the run but the ref didn't see it. So VAR (despite all its critics) has at least taken away the worst of the game-changing instances of diving.

But this is one of the aspects of soccer which offends the sensibilities of American fans (including me!) far more than it offends those of other countries, where taking advantage of the rules and trying to game the system is viewed as a positive personality trait... get everything you can out of life, have some chutzpah, push the envelope. There was a lengthy obituary of Maradona, maybe on The Ringer, which went into detail about how much that was an appreciated cultural trait in Argentina (rather than viewed as something un-sporting and even un-manly in the US). If you come from an impoverished background playing on the streets and football is your way out of that life, it's a lot easier to understand why as you grew up you'd be permitted, even encouraged, to get every advantage for yourself and your team on the field, whether deserved or not.

There is technically a rule on the books about getting carded for "simulation", and I have seen it given a half dozen times over the last few years of watching the Big 5 leagues, but it should be given at least 10x as often as it is if the leagues really wanted to reduce its prevalence.

One of my handful of "serious suggestions for improving soccer" would be to go from 1 center referee to 3 on-field referees (plus the 2 linesmen). With 3 refs, there should pretty much always been someone who has good perspective on a big play, and they can quickly huddle to decide on making a call. It would doubtless be an awkward transition, though, and you really don't want it to change the free-flowing nature of the game by over-legislating it (we do have a tendency to do that with our sports), but I believe it can be done and would help.
Your solutions would work better if Football were more like it's American counterpart, an intrinsically spectator sport with only a few rich leagues at the top. Football is more spread out, with leagues of all sizes, and the same rules of the game are applied to them all. Solutions that make the game more expensive or more complicated aren't well received by the community at large.

VAR is a big exception, but the problem it is "solving" was considered big enough that it was deemed worth it. Extra referees, stop-and-go centralized clock, among others, incur in extra expenses and the benefits aren't so great.
 

singaporesoxfan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2004
11,750
Washington, DC
Great reply, thanks. Do you have any thoughts on the second part of that question – which is, why is it seemingly only a problem in men’s soccer?

BTW, the NBA hasn’t solved this problem either, so it’s obviously easier said than done. But in that sport, two fouls on a star player early on in the contest can fundamentally change the course of the game because he has to go the bench.
Some possible answers:
  • Culture: the US generally doesn't dive that much, and the US women's team have been dominant on the women's side of the game with the US women's league one of the best around and where many of the best players play, so culturally there's less diving in the women's game
  • Maturity of sport: It could just be that as women's soccer grows in popularity, it might start to see the same adoption of tactics as the men's game
  • Actual number of diving opportunities: Women's World Cup games have about half the yellow cards (a crude measure, to be sure) of the men's game - it may be that the women's game has less of the close contact that produces both fouls but also opportunities for diving when the opponents are close