And with our Twitter following now creeping ever closer to the 1K mark, it's clear that we've developed a following. With these kinds of numbers, and heightened interest in the Vancouver Whitecaps from among casual observers during the final sprint for the playoffs, it's time to provide the not-so-regular fan with a little backup - a Soccer 101, if you will.
Absorb these pointers, dear soccer noob, and the next time your half-caf skinny venti latte-lapping friends and colleagues bring up the Whitecaps, you'll be in the know.
- 442. We're talking formations here, not how much you'll pay for a large drink and a tub of popcorn at BC Place. If you're going to succeed in at least sounding knowledgeable about soccer, you need to master the Quick Count to ten - the number of outfield players. Ahem...4-3-3, 3-5-2, 4-5-1... see how easy it can be? After mastering the Quick Count, all you really need to do in order to sound like an aficionado is to memorize a couple set formulaic phrases: "Rennie needs to switch to a 7-1-2," or "There's a reason why Barcelona plays the 1-1-8." Advanced users might consider adding a justification. For convenience, I'll provide a few useful options: "Miller/Camilo/Mattocks is not getting any service.", "We''re getting killed in the midfield.", or the ever-popular "We can counter off that."
- "You fat bastard!" (now simply referred to as the Kenyon canticle.) Sadly, some rather inexperienced soccer fans have taken umbrage at this Southsiders staple - mistakenly assuming it to be a slur directed at opposing goalkeepers - who are generally rather lithe, with the possible exception of Nick Rimando. My research remains inconclusive. Some say it's actually a tribute to Sepp Blatter, while many TFC fans claim that it has something to do with Rob Ford.
- "Out of touch." Double usage: (1) Off the field of play. As commonly used by Peter Schaad : "Here's Hurtado! He's in past his man! Takes a touch.... aaand the ball goes out of touch." (2) Pretty much applicable to the general quality of on-field officials in MLS.
- Points. These are listed in the team standings (in soccer parlance, the table) found in your daily paper. Please note: A team that wins a match 1-0, does not win by one point.
- Kit. Soccer-talk for a team's uniform - jersey, shorts, and socks. There are no tools to be found in a soccer "kit" - possible exception: Steven Lenhart. Useful repetition: "What do you think of the Caps' brown kit?"
- SSS. Shorthand for soccer-specific stadium. Usage is now outdated in Vancouver, as most have reluctantly concluded that in the post-Empire II era, such a venue will never come to pass.
- Turf/Pitch. Soccer terminology for the field at BC Place. Coincidentally, both terms can be used as verbs to express what should be done with the same Polytan surface.
These are just the basics - enough to carry you through the next couple weeks as you transform yourself from footy neophyte to the "go to" guy or gal when you're talking soccer round the office water cooler, or huddling under umbrellas at you kid's soccer practice. Meanwhile, the Caps will be doing their best to survive into the postseason. If they fall short, and wind up out of the playoff race, it'll be time to update your studies. See: Transfer Window, Attacking Mid, Backline Depth, Allocation Money.
In the meantime, two instructional videos to brush up with:
PREPARING TO TALK WITH YOUR SON'S/DAUGHTER'S COACH:
AN INSIDER'S LOOK AT WOMEN'S COLLEGIATE SOCCER: