From Soccer to Fútbol: Diversity in GU Men’s Soccer

Media by Paul Garrett.
Cristiano Ronaldo (left), Gareth Bale (middle), and Lionel Messi (right) three names that the international soccer league. Media by BusinessInsider.

Soccer overseas can be quite different than in the United States. At Greenville University, the soccer programs see both American and international styles of play because the majority of the soccer team is international. Greenville has players from Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Kenya, Sweden, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, and Congo. Overseas, soccer is often played more gracefully and slower with focuses on quick passes, little touches, flashy dribbling, and possession. Here in the United States, soccer is more based on strength, speed, and athleticism. Many international students arrive and are surprised by the aggression, heavy contact, and speed. Although it depends on the club or team, there are times that American soccer has a lot more long balls and ambitious attacks with strong defenders that are good in the air. Greenville University’s Men’s Soccer Team has a combination of all of these styles of play since the team is from all over the world.

Media by B.J. Schneck.

The soccer team plays a built-up offense that focuses on trying to switch the ball often and to get it wide to attack the outer channels and cross the ball for a goal. The midfield has one defensive mid, two balanced attacking mids, a holding striker that comes back and looks for the ball at his feet, and two wide strikers that play as wingers that come back for defense and join the attack. GU tries to switch the ball often to the other side through the defensive mid and get it out to the wide attackers so that the midfielders and strikers can attack the box and finish. Overseas, there are many other offenses that are played, but really, the style of play depends on what country or region it is. Typically, the European style of soccer is more technically focused with lots of possession and slow and patient play. This involves our players from Spain and Sweden, who prefer a graceful and slower style of play with attacking defenders and good possession in the middle. Mexican soccer is played with short quick passes, which are often known as “tiki-taka” or give and go passes. Often, Mexican strikers are not super fast or athletic, but they are the best with the ball at their feet and are able to check-in, receive and hold the ball, and play it off to attacking players. Some Hispanic and Latin style of soccer is more flashy and complicated with skill moves and lots of quick touches and flashy dribbling.

Greenville Soccer’s Kyle Sunderland considered the difficulty of playing with other people across the country, and he stated, “At times, it can be very difficult to play with people from all over the world. Since we have such a diverse team, we also have a combination of several different styles of play. Players come and expect to be able to play the way they have always known, but most of the time, they have to change and adapt to how their teammates play and how the other teams play.” Adjusting to new ways and styles can be very difficult when bringing in different types of people from all over the world. However, Greenville University’s Men’s Soccer Program has shown that they are up for the challenge.

Media by Paul Garrett.


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