Glossary

As with any sport, there are many specific terms and phrases unique to soccer.  This glossary of specific terms and phrases will help you save face in the pub, and avoid the eye rolls and corrections of soccer snobs in the US and abroad.  You know what a full count is in baseball right?  This glossary is a cheat sheet to all the specific phrases to soccer.  You need to know them to understand and communicate the game properly among fans.

Aggregate:
There are professional competitions like the UEFA Champions League where teams play two matches, one at each home stadium.  The result of the first game is inconsequential because the winner is determined from the aggregate score of the two games.  The teams play extra time even if a team wins the second game if the score is tied in aggregate.

Asking Questions:
A team is asking questions when they are attacking the goal with purpose and meaning.  This doesn't necessarily imply shots on goal, but even dangerous crosses into the box and tempting runs forward.

Backheel:
A kick played by the heel which typically travels in the opposite direction from which the player is facing.

Bicycle Kick:
This rare type of kick is when a player leaves their feet to kick the ball over their head.  For example, if the ball is behind a player they can pivot and leap with one foot while throwing the other foot at the ball.  When this kick is performed the player typically rotates their body horizontally and lands on their back.

Booking:
The player's name is written in the little book that the referee carries. If the player has been booked once, he or she is shown a yellow card. When booked a second time, the red card is shown and the player is "sent off" the pitch. Both events involving "bookings".

Box:
Sometimes called the 18 yard box or the penalty area.  A penalty against an offensive player in this area results in a penalty kick.  A goal keeper can handle the ball in this area as long as it is not kicked back to him from a teammate.

Brace:
Scoring two goals in a single match.

Cap:
A term used for international soccer.  A cap is when a player makes an appearance for their national team.

Championship:
The Championship League is the English soccer league directly below the English Premiere League. Teams relegated from the EPL are sent down to the Championship. Teams promoted to the EPL come from the Championship. Currently Championship programming can be found on the BeIn Sports Network.

Clean Sheet:
When a team shuts out another team on the score board, it's a clean sheet.

Clipped:
This term refers to when a player hits another player on the foot with their foot usually when the players are in full stride.

Cracker:
This is not a racist slur.  A cracker is an exciting match where the play goes back and forth from end to end relentlessly with lots of action and shots on goal.

Cynical Foul:
This term is common to hear from American and English football commentators.  The use implies that the player committing the foul did so with purpose and intent to stop the game or an offensive play or as a point of revenge.

Derby:
Games between two rivals of close geographical proximity are usually called a local derby. The "Manchester Derby" involves Manchester United vs Manchester City. Everton vs Liverpool is named the "Merseyside Derby." "Madrid Derby" is Athletico Madrid vs Real Madrid ... etc.

Direct Free Kick:
A method of restarting play following a foul. A goal may be scored directly against the opposing side without the ball having first touched another player. See also "Indirect Free Kick."

Extra Time:
It's not overtime!  When two teams are tied in a tournament elimination game, they go into extra time.  This consists of two 15 minute periods.  Even if a team scores, they extra time is played in full.

Formation:
The alignment of the players on the pitch for a squad.  Usually defined as the number of defenders, midfielders, and forwards.  Example 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 or 3-5-2.

Front Foot:
This is a clever phrase to describe a team that is being aggressive going toward goal and controlling ball possession.

Futbol:
Soccer!  In America, we don't even call the beautiful game by the correct name; it's futbol after all, not soccer.  For the sake of sanity and respect for our own culture, we will refer to futbol as soccer in this blog.  Internationally soccer is known as futbol, and it is the most popular sport in the world.  Yes, it can be spelled football, but even we at SoccerIsAmerican.com can be snobby about some things.

Half Volley:
Think short hop.  A half volley is when a player strikes a bouncing ball just after it hits off the ground.  It's in between striking it off the ground and in the air, half volley.

Howler:
A rocket shot blasted 30 rows deep can be a howler, but a howler isn't necessarily a shot. The term howler can be used to refer to any egregious error made by a player or referee, but usually applied to an egregious goal keeping error. Try using at home with your family.
See Loris Karius Champions League Final 2018.

Idea:
A positive pass or forward offensive play.  Often when it isn't pulled off, it is referred to as a "nice idea."

Injury Time:
Injury time is a bit of misnomer and is being replaced by the term "added time" in the modern futbol vernacular.  Each half, the referee keeps loose track of the time where the game is stopped.  This most often occurs for an injury.  At the end of each half the game doesn't end when the clock reaches 45 minutes or 90 minutes.  The teams still have to play the time where the action was stopped.  The referee decides how much this time is and he has the final decision on when to blow the whistle to end the half or the game.

Man Marking:
A defensive strategy where defenders are assigned a specific opposition player to mark rather than covering an area of the pitch.

Match:
In the Americas we refer to matches between teams as games.  "What time is the game on Sunday?"  In soccer, this term is replaced by match.  This little term may seem silly, but soccer snobs will correct you when you refer to a match as a game.  Don't fight it, you must adjust.  This glossary is here to help.

Near Post:
This term is primarily used when an offensive player shoots on goal at the side of the goal closest to them.  The player must be at an angle to the goal where they are closer to one post versus the other.  If they shoot and score it is said that they beat the goalie on the near post.  It is a myth that goalies prefer not to be beaten on the near post, but goalies prefer not to be beaten by any goal regardless of location.
The term "near post" also is used as a location marker for an offensive player without the ball making a run at the goal.  For example, a player without the ball can make a "near post" run to try and position themselves in space for a goal.

Nutmeg:
A nutmeg is when a player kicks the ball between an opposing player's legs.  It is often used as a noun, but can also be used a verb.  The original definition was only when a player struck the ball between the goalie's legs to score a goal, but the modern interpretation includes play in the open field as well.

Offside:
Say it with me, "offside."  The term is singular, not plural.  You can always spot someone new to soccer when they exclaim, "offsides!"  SoccerIsAmerican.com is here to help.  A player is offside when they are closer to the goal line than both the ball and the last defender (not including the goalie), but only if they are in the opposition's half of the pitch.  The offside player does not have to touch the ball to be offside.  They only need to interfere with the play to be flagged offside.

Own Goal:
Tragically, this is when a player directs the ball into their own goal.  This official scoring only occurs if the ball changes direction in a meaningful way, slight deflections do not count as an own goal.

Pace:
This term is in reference to the speed of the player or the match.

Pitch:
Seriously right!  There may be nothing more annoying than a soccer snob correcting you on the word pitch.  This has nothing to do with baseball.  A pitch is essentially a field, but there are no fields in soccer, only pitches.  Once you are analyzing the speed and quality of the pitch, you may be beyond this blog.

Playing the Advantage:
When a foul is committed the referee can allow play to continue at their discretion.  If the fouled team has an advantage as the play continues then the referee holds his whistle and is said to be "playing the advantage."  The referee will hold both arms forward toward the defensive goal to signal advantage is being played.

Promotion:
Most professional leagues around the world feature movement of clubs between divisions.  For this example we will use the English Premier League.  The top two teams in the lower division Championship automatically are promoted to the Premier League the following season.  Positions 3 through 6 then battle in a winner gets promoted playoff.  A promoted club can receive over $100 million more in revenue sharing in the Premier League versus the lower Championship.  See also relegation.

Red Card:
A red card is produced by the referee after they issue a second yellow card to the same player in the same game.  A red card can also be produced by the referee is they deem a play or tackle as overtly reckless or dangerous.  A red card can also be produced if the referee deems a foul to occur on an obvious goal scoring opportunity.  The recipient of the red card is sent off the field for the game, and their team must play with a man down for the remainder of the game.  The player receiving the red card is also suspended for the next match.  See also "straight red."

Relegation:
Most professional leagues around the world feature movement of clubs between divisions.  For this example we will use the English Premier League.  The bottom three teams in the Premier League are relegated to the Championship (lower league).  The Premier League is the highest league in English football, and the teams enjoy more money in television rights and more prestige among supporters.  "Staying up" is important to all Premier League teams not vying for a top spot in the tables.  At the end of the season the drama to avoid relegation is just as tantalizing as the drama to win the Premier League.

Scouser:
A Scouser is a person from Merseyside England.  Merseyside is like a county in the United States.  Liverpool and Everton futbol clubs reside in Merserside.  People from that area are said to speak in a certain dialect, named Scouse.  Therefore people from Merseyside are called Scousers.

Stamp:
This is an ugly and painful action where a player steps on an opposing player with the full weight of their cleat.

Straight Red Card:
A straight red card refers to when a referee gives a red card to a player without a preceding yellow card against that same player.  The player is sent off the field and their team must play with a man less than their opponent.  The player is also suspended from the next match.

Switch:
When the play moves from one side of the pitch to the other, this is a switch.  Often a team will quickly switch the ball (or play) to try and advance the attack before the defense can adjust.

Tables:
Oh yah, foosball right?  No.  A soccer table is not referring to a game itself, but the method of ranking the teams within a league from top to bottom.  A soccer table is equivalent to standings in the US sports vernacular.  Table comes from the word tabulated.  After match results are tabulated, the table displays the league ranking of each team.

Tackle:
The act of a player coming to meet an opponent who is in possession of the ball, engaging him, and then legally using a foot to take the ball away.

Transfer:
The action taken whenever a player under contract moves between clubs. It refers to the transferring of a player's registration from one association football club to another. See also "Transfer Fee."

Transfer Fee:
Compensation paid from one club to another for the rights of a player. The player does not share in the transfer fee.

Through Ball:
A through ball is a leading pass to a forward player.  A through ball is an offensive pass into space toward the goal that a forward player has to run to.

Touch Line:
Most likely this term comes from Rugby, but you hear it often in soccer. It has nothing to do with the goalie box and handling the ball. It simply refers to the side lines.

Volley:
A volley is a strike against the ball before it hits the ground.  A common example would be when a player kicks the ball across the face of goal, and another player strikes it out of the air towards the goal.  The most common application is an offensive action or shot, but any strike against the ball before it hits the ground can be considered a volley.

Woodwork:
Refers to the frame of the goal.

Yellow Card:
A yellow card can be presented to a player by the referee for an excessive or reckless foul.  The yellow card serves as a warning for the player.  Two yellow cards in the same game result in a red card.  Yellow cards can be distributed at the referees discretion for any reason.

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