GAME 2: MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF COMPETITIVE SOCCER
So my team had second game of the season - this time we played against Real Salt Lake City, another MLS club. We lost 1:5... I would say that we played significantly better than against Galaxy (lost 1:2 on last minute PK) and created significant number of scoring opportunities. The score though is brutal and I think there is explanation to this.
Since this is my first season in U17 age group all my experience is very new and I easily might be wrong! Any feedback from more experienced people is very welcome!

My current experience at this level suggests that there is a big shift from U15 and younger to U17 soccer! I would call it not shift but rather jump and I think it is a jump from development oriented soccer to more result or performance oriented sport. And I'm not only talking about the way coaches approach it during training and game preparation (although this is probably correct too) but rather about the pressure, attention to small details, and unforgiveness of mistakes during the games. At developmental age general principles get established and if the team follows these principles often this is sufficient for success! At U17 and older age groups attention to small details is more important and every mistake is immediately punished! In our game against RSL we were 1:2 down after first half and I was completely calm as we were definitely in the game and I was sure we will create few more scoring opportunities to score. We started second half well and for me it was the question if we will be good enough to tie the game or not. Well... within 15 minutes score became 1:4 - two very simple individual mistakes. Just lack of concentration, not reading game and not doing simple actions on time! No mercy at this level!

Another thing which I noticed (and may be it has high impact at earlier ages too) is psychology.
Even losing 1:4 we had 4 very good opportunities to score and if we believed in ourselves a bit more we would score one or two goals and then the game could turn around! But our body language by that time was clearly showing that the game is over...

To summarize I really think that at age of 17 soccer moves from boys to men sport. Not every player at this age is ready for the change - physically, mentally or psychologically!! It is a big and crucial step for every player who wants to become professional. Earlier this happens for the player (especially on mental and psychological levels) easier it will be for player to adapt to requirements of the game at high level.
At the moment we have very "young" team and it will be a long way to mature! But boys work extremely well at training (I really enjoy every time I'm with them) and on top of that this trip showed that we really have good team spirit, so we will get better for sure!!


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