Soccer Lingo

WHEN THEY SAY  THINK   IT MEANS  
A-League AAA (baseball) The U.S. second division is highest level of “minor league” soccer in America since the launch of MLS in 1996.
advantage When the referee does not call a foul to let the infringed-upon team continue/complete a play. “The ref allows the U.S. plays the advantage.”
AET overtime final Abbreviation for After Extra Time. A completed match which required extra time because of the score was tied at the end of regulation time.
arc top of the key (basketball) The arc is the half-circle field marking atop the 18 yard box. Fouls committed inside the arc do not earn a penalty kick.
back line defenders
ball (verb) play hard/well Slang, meaning to play your best. “We just gotta ball.”
bicycle kick ball kicked while both feet are above the player’s head
booking penalization The process of a player receiving a yellow or red card.
boots cleats The footwear worn by soccer players.
cap(s) appearance(s) Number of matches a player has participated in for his/her national team – includes exhibition and tournament competition. “The young upstart already has 14 caps.”
carded See “booking”
caution your last warning A caution is given to a player by the referee for a serious foul – signaled by the showing of a yellow card. This sometimes follows a verbal warning. The player is ejected if he/she receives a second yellow card.
center circle center court (basketball) The circle at midfield where kickoffs begin
central defender defender who usually plays nearest to the midfielders in the middle portion of the field
clean sheet shutout when a goalkeeper or team allows no goals to be scored for an entire match
CONCACAF Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football – the governing body of soccer competitions in this region of the world. Pronounced CON-ka-kaff.
corner arc The quarter-circle marking on all four corners of the field – on or inside which the ball may be placed for starting a corner kick.
corner flag The flag that is placed at all four corners of the field.
corner kick A restart of play taken from one of the two corners in the offensive third of the field. Considered a prime goal-scoring opportunity – particularly by teams that are proficient at heading the ball.
cover the post The act of a defender standing just inside a post to assist the goalkeeper in covering the goal. Usually occurs on corner kicks.
cracker (adjective) a fast and hard shot toward the goal. “That shot was a real cracker!”
crossing pass a pass from the side of the field (flank) to the middle of the field with the intent of creating a good scoring/playmaking opportunity
dispossess turnover to take away the ball from an opposing player. As in “the attacker was dispossessed of the ball.”
dive The act of embellishing contact with an opponent so as to fall to the ground in an attempt to draw a foul call
draw (noun) tie A final match result with both teams having the same number of goals. “Columbus and New England played to a 1-1 draw.”
dribble A player controlling or advancing the ball using their feet while maintaining possession.
dummy (verb) fake Faking a move in a certain direction or running to a particular location on the field for the purpose of drawing defenders out of position.
early ball a pass played in front of an attacking teammate so he/she can run onto the ball without breaking stride
end line out-of-bounds The sideline at each end of the field that runs from one corner flag, across the goal mouth, to the other corner flag.
estadio stadium Spanish word meaning stadium. “It can be challenging to play in Estadio Azteca during the Summer.”
extra time overtime If league/tournament rules permit, and if the score is still even at the end of regulation and stoppage time, overtime may be played.
far post The goal post farthest away from the goalkeeper or shooter.
FIFA Federation Internationale de Football Association – the world’s governing body of the game of soccer (aka football). FIFA sees to it that the game is played to one unified set of rules, the Laws of the Game, all over the world. Pronounced FEE-fah.
fifty-fifty ball 50/50 a played ball where neither team has a clear advantage in gaining possession
final (noun) championship game The match featuring the two remaining teams of a tournament – the result of which determines the champion.
fitness endurance a player’s or team’s endurance or injury status
fixture schedule upcoming scheduled match
flank side the left or right side of the field
flighted ball a pass that is lofted through the air
footballer soccer player Another term for soccer player originating from countries where soccer is referred to as football.
footy soccer an affectionate term for football (soccer) in Europe.
formation the selection and strategic alignment of players
free kick Awarded for serious fouls outside the penalty area (18 yard box), free kicks may go directly into the goal without having to touch another player first.
friendly (noun) exhibition a match that does not impact league or tournament standings. The term does not always reflect the style of play, however.
fullback defender a defensive player who begins play in the rear third of the field (nearest their own goal)
futbol soccer Spanish word for the game of football (soccer)
gaffer head coach Slang term most often used in Europe for the manager or head coach.
goal differential plus-minus the number of goals a team has scored minus the number they have allowed
goal kick A ball put back into play by the goalkeeper without challenge by the opposing team. Must be kicked off the ground within the goal box. The opponent must be clear of the 18 yard penalty area during a goal kick.
goal mouth goal crease (hockey) the area directly in front of the goal or the opening through which the ball may enter the goal.
golden goal sudden death an overtime session where the first goal scored wins or a goal scored to win during sudden death overtime
half volley the act of kicking the ball just after it bounces off the playing surface
halfback midfielder a player who begins play in the middle third of the field. Principal roles are ball control, linking the defenders to the forwards and playmaking.
hand of God The unnoticed act directing the ball into the goal via handball. Derived from Argentine player Diego Maradona’s goal in the 1986 World Cup. After the match, he denied the handball stating that it must have been played by “the hand of God.”
handball the deliberate and/or intentional act of touching the ball with the hand or arm. Does not apply to the goalkeeper when inside his/her own penalty area (18 yard box).
hat trick hat trick (hockey) The rare event of a player scoring three goals in a single match.
header A shot toward the net that is propelled by a player’s forehead rather than his/her feet. Doing this while leaving one’s feet and diving forward is called a “diving header.”
hospital ball hung out to dry a poor pass played in front of oncoming defenders, which if received by a teammate, could result in injury. Often used as a exaggeration.
indirect free kick Awarded for less serious fouls, indirect kicks must be touched by another player (from either team) before entering the goal for a score.
injured reserve injury list declaring an injured player inactive to free up a roster spot for a replacement player. Rules/restrictions for injured reserve often vary by league.
instep drive A hard and straight shot taken with the instep of the foot.
interval Halftime The break in between halves. “It’s 2-0 at the interval.”
kick save kick save (hockey) When the goalkeeper stops a shot from entering the goal using his/her feet or legs.
kit uniform soccer uniform
level tied When both teams have the same number of goals. As in “we’re all level at two apiece.”
line goal line The goal line. “The goalkeeper came off his/her line.”
man of the match first star (hockey), star of the game (baseball) The player whose performance most significantly impacted the outcome of the match for his/her team. It is common for soccer fans to disagree on who is worthy of Man of the Match honors.
marking checking (hockey), covering (football, basketball) to cover. “The defender did an excellent job marking his/her man.”
MISL indoor soccer league Major Indoor Soccer League. Top professional “indoo”r soccer league in the U.S. Some fans pronounce this league name as “missle.”
MLS Major League Soccer The highest level of professional club soccer in the United States (U.S. first division) since 1996.
NASL North American Soccer League The predecessor to MLS with teams in both the U.S. and Canada (1967-1985). The league folded largely due to overspending on player salaries.
national team all-star team An all-star team of players who are citizens of the same country. It is often considered a great honor and accomplishment for a player to be selected for his/her national team. Over 200 national teams worldwide compete for the FIFA World Cup.
near post The goal post nearest to the goalkeeper or shooter.
nil zero British term for zero. “The U.S. beat the Argentines one-nil.”
number 10 playmaker A midfielder who is considered to be the primary playmaker and a leader on the team. This player sometimes actually wears the number 10.
nutmeg five-hole (hockey) when a ball is played through a defender’s legs
offside trap an act by the defenders of moving upfield (away from their goal) causing the attacking team to be offside
on frame on goal (hockey) a shot that has – or would have gone – into the goal if it was not stopped by the goalkeeper or a defender
on net See “on frame”
one-touch (adjective) one-timer To shoot an oncoming pass and/or to pass the ball without stopping or controlling it first.
one-v-one one-on-one one player versus one player or one-on-one. Pronounced one VEE one.
onion bag net the goal’s netting
penalty area The box that extends 18 yards from the goal where a penalty kick may be awarded for a foul on the attacking team. Goalkeeper of team defending this goal can also use his hands in this area.
penalty box Slang term for Penalty area
pitch (noun) field Soccer field. “The pitch is in excellent shape.”
pointyball football soccer fan term for the sport of American football which refers to the pigskin’s pointed ends
professional foul lesser of two evils Intentionally committing a bad tackle, foul or handball to prevent a goal from being scored.
punch (verb) The goalkeeper’s act of clearing the ball from danger through the air by thrusting his/her fist(s) into the ball.
quarterfinals Elite Eight (college basketball) Four matches which feature the eight remaining teams in a tournament. Also referred to as the Round of Eight.
quick restart no-huddle offense (football) After a foul is whistled, the strategy of quickly stopping/putting the ball on the ground and restarting play before the opponent’s defense can set up in their desired position.
red card ejection A player is ejected from the match after a flagrant foul that causes bodily harm to an opponent; a foul takes away a clear goal scoring opportunity from the opponent or the player receives his/her second yellow card. Issuance often varies by referee.
redirect deflect To touch the ball (often intentionally) to change it’s direction.
restraining line battleline The first position on the field where the offense is challenged for the ball
Sam’s Army supporters group A rabid and loyal group of U.S. National Team supporters founded after the 1994 World Cup. These fans often travel great distances, stand and sing during matches. Sam is a reference to Uncle Sam.
scissor kick see bicycle kick
semifinals Final Four (college basketball) Two games which feature the four remaining teams in a tournament. Also referred to as the Round of Four.
senior international a Major League Soccer (MLS) player that meets all of the following criteria: 1.) not a U.S. citizen; 2.) not a green card holder or under asylum protection; and 3.) 25 years old or older.
sent off ejected another phrase used to describe a player receiving a red card. “McCarty has just been sent off.”
set piece A designed play to be executed from a free kick or other restart opportunity.
shootout Alternating penalty kicks by each team to determine the outcome of a match if regulation time and overtime have failed to determine a winner. Also the name of the MLS pay-per-view package.
side team Team. As in “home side” or “visiting side.”
side netting the netting connected from the goal’s post to the back post on the left and right sides of the net.
side volley ball kicked while it is still in the air and off to one side of the player
signage dasher boards (hockey) the advertising boards that usually line the perimeter of the field
simulcast The audio portion of match coverage provided on two or more media simultaneously: radio and TV, radio and webast or two different radio stations.
single table The standing of every team within the league, from top to bottom, without regard for conference or division.
six goal crease (hockey) as in “the six.” The box that extends six feet from the goal. Also referred to as “the six yard box.”
spot as in “the spot.” Where the ball is placed for a penalty kick
spot kick penalty kick A penalty kick taken from the penalty spot.
squad team Team.
square (adj.) A pass played parallel to the end line, typically from a wing to the center of the field. “Wolff plays it square to an oncoming Ernie Stewart…”
stoppage time Time added on the regulation time by the referee to make up for time used for injuries and substitutions (because the clock is not stopped). This is still regulation time, not overtime.
striker Player who kicks the ball toward the goal or a player who often kicks the ball in an attempt to score
studs up cleating A dangerous play where a player’s studs (cleats) are exposed to the legs of another player. A “studs up tackle” is considered a serious foul if contact is made with another player.
superdraft draft day Major League Soccer (MLS) event that combines the college entry draft and supplemental draft of existing professional players into a single draft
sweeper defender who usually plays nearest to the goalkeeper and behind the other defenders who “sweeps” away any rebounds or incoming balls
switch the field/attack when the offense passes the ball from one side of the field to the less crowded side (left-to-right or right-to-left)
table standings Ranking of the teams in a league, conference or division from first to worst.
tackle slide A defensive manuever of sliding on the ground to knock the ball away from an opposing play. Tripping or otherwise making contact with the other player is often considered a foul. Tackling from behind can earn a caution or even ejection.
through ball a pass played between two defenders
throw-in The act of restarting play by throwing the ball into the field of play. Both hands must be on the ball and both feet on the ground and behind the touchline. A ball that is played over the sideline results in a “throw in” by their opponent.
toe the ball to kick the ball with the toes of the foot. An improper technique usually done mistakenly.
touchline sideline or out-of-bounds The field marking (sideline) that runs the entire width of the field.
training (noun) practice practice session
transfer fee trade for cash A monetary fee paid from one club/league/association to another to acquire the rights to a player currently under contract.
upper ninety upper corner; three-hole or four-hole (hockey) The area of the goal just inside the 90-degree angle where the side post connects to the crossbar
v vs. Short for versus. Pronounced: vee. “1v1″ or “Columbus v. Chicago”
volley Act of kicking the ball before it bounces.
wall the lining up of two or more defenders to help shield the goal or block an oncoming free kick. In indoor soccer, can also mean the dasher boards.
wall pass give-and-go an attacking manuever of passing the ball to a teammate, then sprinting forward to quickly receive a return pass. The direction of the ball often forms a sideways V.
webcast Internet radio Play-by-play coverage of a match that is provided via Internet audio rather than, or in addition to, radio or television.
woodwork goalposts The crossbar or posts of the goal – even though most are no longer made of wood
WUSA women’s soccer league Defunct Women’s United Soccer Association. The top division for women’s professional soccer in the U.S. featuring many of the top players from around the world. Some fans pronounce this league name as WOO-sa.
yellow card See “caution”