PDF American Major League Soccer: A Beginner’s Guide

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Unlike previous years, the knockout rounds will consist of four single-elimination matches on the road to the MLS Cup final in early December. This rule was invented when David Beckham joined the league in and Robbie Keane, Kaka and David Villa are among the current designated players. There is also a young designated player contract that is normally given to those aged 23 and under. Trading with other MLS sides is one option. Trades can consist of players, draft picks, allocation money or the rights to a player.

Each MLS team has a maximum number of international slots and these can also be traded in order to add another foreign player. Another route is through the draft system. There are three types of drafts, the superdraft , the waiver draft and the re-entry draft. The superdraft is where young players enter the league from college level.

However, a team can trade for a draft pick in order to get higher up the order and therefore potentially sign a better player. The re-entry draft allows free agents released by MLS clubs at the end of the season in December to be signed.

New fan’s guide to finding favorite Premier League club – ProSoccerTalk

Developing youth players through the academy is another method a new player can be added to the squad. These players are signed on to home-grown contracts and do not count towards the salary cap. Only two per team can be signed a season. At the highest level, the game lasts 90 minutes plus stoppage time. There are two halves of 45 minutes each and both end after stoppage time.

What's stoppage time? Since the clock doesn't stop in soccer, the referee adds time back at the end of each half to make up for pauses in play. The referee indicates how much time gets added, but it's not exact. That means a 90 minute game normally lasts 94 minutes or longer at the discretion of the referee.

In soccer, players play until the referee blows the whistle. There's normally one referee on the field who controls the whistle and the cards. Yep, cards. In soccer, punishment is doled out through the referee raising a yellow or red card. A yellow card warns a player for breaking the rules. If the incident is serious, the referee can hold up a red card. That means the player has to leave the game for good, with his team unable to put in a sub. That's called 'playing a man down' and it means the team plays with 10 instead of 11 players.

A Beginner’s Guide to Major League Soccer

Two yellow cards to the same player also equals a red and a sending off. A team can play with no less than 7 players on the field. If a foul happens in the yard-box, the referee can award a penalty. That means the fouled team gets to take a kick directly at the goalkeeper from the penalty spot 12 yards from the center of the goal line.

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Soccer balls come in sizes. A young player might use a size 3, increasing to size 4 as she or he gets older, and eventually using the regulation adult size 5 ball. Balls used to be made of leather, weren't waterproof, and had laces. Imagine trying to kick that around on a wet field. Soccer is roughly divided into four positions and we'll go over each of them. Just remember that at the pro level there's 11 players per side, with three substitutes allowed from the players on the bench.

Once a player subs out, they're done for the game. Or goalie, the only player on the field allowed to use their hands when the ball is in play. The goalkeeper's job is obvious. Using his or her entire body, they keep the ball from crossing the goal line so the other team doesn't score. The goalkeeper cannot use their hands outside of the yard box.

Here's our guide for youth coaches on goalkeepers that explains the basics of being a goalkeeper.

The Action

One obvious question worth a quick answer. The goalkeeper always wears a different color shirt so he or she is easy to spot by the referee.

For newfound fans of soccer, picking one’s favorite EPL club can be a complicated thing.

Traditionally, that shirt was green. Remember when we mentioned ? That's a basic soccer formation.


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You'll notice it adds up to 10 rather than That's because there are 10 field players plus the goalkeeper. Formations only apply to field players since you have to have a goalkeeper. So we read the formation starting with the defender. The first 4 in the means four defenders, the players in front of the goalkeeper. Do there always have to be 4? Other than the goalkeeper and needing 10 field players, those players can play in any formation the coach wants. Here's more than you probably need to know at this point about arranging a soccer defense. As you'd expect, these are the players in the middle of the formation, our second set of 4 in our Midfielders take on attacking and defensive responsibilities, linking the defenders with the forwards and trying to keep the flow of play going.

There's more to it than that, but for now that's what you need to know. Unlike American football, the positions aren't set with complicated playbooks. Though the highest level of pro soccer can be described as high speed chess, it lacks the stops and starts of American football and doesn't have the same type of positions. A midfielder can defend and a defender can attack. The 2 in our and the players most expected to score goals. From an offensive perspective, formations are designed to get the ball to the attacking players so they can do their job. Here's an article on the 11 responsibilities of a soccer forward.

Now that we know a little bit about how the game is played, let's take a look at what it means to play professionally. Unlike most sports, professional soccer has leagues all over the world. Under FIFA rules, most leagues have to be within a single country. England's league also allows clubs from Wales. There is no one major league like you're used to in American pro sports. England's Premier League is normally thought of as the best overall, but there isn't a clear best when the world's top players are in Spain, some of the world's biggest clubs play in Italy , and a German club is normally in the running to become European champion.