Sounders Insider

In-game changes tough, but even coaches don't want time outs in cerebral soccer

So, why didn't they shout those reminders during the first half?

It's not all that easy, coach Sigi Schmid and first assistant Brian Schmetzer agreed after training today.

"Usually if there’s a stoppage in play you can whisper things to the nearest guy," Scyhmetzer said. "If some guy is playing right mid and he’s right in front of you can make small adjustments. But usually coaches wait till halftime to do their major things."

At the end of the conversation, I mentioned to Schmetzer that time outs would chance the game for coaches.

He responded: Timeouts would change the sport to a negative.

Schmid agreed that the free flow of the game -- and the additional demand that puts on players -- is part of what makes The Beautiful Game so beautiful.

"It’s a more cerebral sport because they players have to be able to think and adjust on their own," Schmid said.

"Sometimes when you have young players you’ll tell a young player, ‘Hey, you have to look for that pass inside. And the next time when he gets the ball he’ll look for the pass inside even though it’s not on, because ‘Coach told me to look for the pass inside.’ And it’s like, no, the clues of the game, that wasn’t on that time, the ball down the line was on. (And the player thinks) ‘One time you tell me to play it inside, the next time you tell me to play it down the line.’ But you’ve got to read the clues of the game. It’s much more of a thinking sport than people realize, and players have to be very spatially aware, and have to be very smart and feel where those spaces are.

"Eddie Gaven was one of the best players I ever coached, in Columbus, and when a ball got played in to him with his back to goal, or even when he was on the sideline, he always seemed to know where the space was on his first touch. He was never turn in to people on his first touch – you watch, a lot of players turn in to people. He, out of 10 balls, nine times he’s turn into the open space. He just had a great spatial awareness of where to be, and recognition. And that’s looking over your shoulder, taking snapshots, being prepared before the ball comes to you. It’s speed of thought, which is different from most other sports.

"Basketball, when they’re in the flow and going down the court, yeah, it’s like that. But most other sports, you’ve got time to set it up, reset the buttons: “OK, now let’s do it for five-six seconds and then reset again.”