Detroit Sports Nation’s guide to soccer


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Within soccer, there are a lot of different phrases that are used that, while talking about similar things to other sports, may sound foreign to many US viewers. These phrases primarily have trickled down from the English League soccer that permeated the states since the English Premier League started in 1992.

Here are key phrases to know:

  • BACK FOUR – the defensemen of a team (While hockey usually have groups of two, soccer generally have groups of four)
  • BALL – an alternate phrase for a pass
  • BOX – the square 18-foot area in front of each goal
  • CAP – a stat used to count appearances of a player in each international game
  • CENTERBACK – defensemen who play in the center-most part of the pitch
  • CHALLENGE – a defensive effort to take the ball away from an offensive player
  • CHANCE – an attempted shot that was either close or had a lot of potential
  • CLEAN SHEET – a shutout
  • CLEAR THE LINE – defensive team forces ball out of their side of the field
  • CLUB LEVEL – professional teams, not the international teams
  • CORNER – a dead-ball scenario where the defending team touched the ball last as it passed the back out of bounds line with the net
  • CROSS – a vertical pass made from the sides of the field to the center of the field
  • CROSSBAR – alternate phrase for the frame of the goal
  • DIVE – the famous soccer flop
  • EQUALIZER – goal made by losing team to achieve even score
  • FIXTURE – a scheduled matchup
  • FOUL – an attempt by defensive player to disrupt offensive player using illegal means or any other common violation of association football rules
  • FULL TIME – end of the game
  • GOAL – a phrase used as both the name of a score and the nets they are shot into
  • GOAL KICK – a kick made by the goalie after a ball goes out of bounds that last touched the offensive player and crossed the sideline touching the net
  • GROUND – phrase referring to entire stadium
  • HAND BALL – a play where a player’s wrist, forearm, or hand touches the ball either by accident or on purpose (causes a stop in play and possibly a penalty kick under the right circumstances; seee page 2)
  • KIT – full team uniform
  • LEG – the term for a game in a home-and-home tournament structure
  • LINE JUDGE – sidelines official who carries a flag with him, calls possession on out of bounds plays, offsides, and common fouls
  • MARK – the man a defender is assigned to during an offensive possession
  • MATCH – alternate term for game
  • MID – player who primarily plays in the middle of the field and serves as support on both offense and defense (basically like the center in hockey)
  • NIL – soccer’s way of saying zero
  • OPENED UP – a term used to describe a game that has finally hit its stride after a slow start
  • PITCH – field of play
  • SACKED – soccer term for firing
  • SET PIECE – a dead-ball play made after a foul or ball out of bounds
  • SIDE – soccer term for team
  • STRIKER – the forward most offensive player who’s emphasis is offensive pressure and goal scoring
  • SUPPORTERS – the soccer equivalent of fans, sometimes called specifically a supporter’s group to refer to a “student section”-like area of the home stadium
  • TABLE – league or tournament standings
  • THROUGH PASS – a pass made that leads an offensive player into an optimal position
  • TOUCH LINE – the sidelines
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