After the first 2 weeks of fall training, multiple FC Wisconsin youth teams kicked off their competitive season in Rockford, Illinois, over Labor Day weekend.
The U14 FC Wisconsin – Madison Regional Competitive Team played their first games with several new players to the club, and showed that the concepts of spacing, creating time, and prioritizing possession of the ball are already sinking in.
The team dominated possession in their three games of the weekend, but despite controlling the ball for the majority of each game, were unable to convert possession into consistent chances and goals. “We spoke in our pre-season meeting about the stages of learning that teams go through,” said coach Jacie Lyon. “Our players were pretty good in keeping the ball, effective in progressing up the field, but we need to improve identifying how and when to take more risks and create chances in the final third.”
Allison Prough did well switching the point of attack in midfield, and was a good link with the forwards. Sophie Atwell and Sarah Bexk showed good aggression in defense from centerback, and just as importantly showed the composure to play into feet out of the back and build play from the defensive line. Claire Rasmussen was effective wide, repeatedly tormenting the opposition with good service.
The U11 FC Wisconsin showed a roster full of players with a solid technical foundation, and the ability and insight to combine with each other in twos and threes. After only 6 trainings, they are already showing good understanding of how to keep possession of the ball individually and in small groups. “Each game had many moments of great combination play and skill from these young players, and they all played in a variety of different positions to challenge their understanding of concepts in different areas and situations,” said Youth Director Andy Lee.
The U13 FC Wisconsin team features a mix of new and returning players as they began the adjustment to playing 11v11 competition. “The players were successful keeping the ball for more than their opponents in every game, but there were too many technical breakdowns under pressure,” said Lee. “This individual technical improvement will come with time, and individual training, as they learn to play under more pressure and with more intensity. Our TIP program should help these players build their technical capabilities at home, and we will continue to teach them how to make good decisions and read cues in the game.”
The U14 FC Wisconsin ECNL team did in their first weekend what they began doing consistently last year – the ability to overwhelmingly dominate possession against anyone and to create multiple chances with skill and creativity. To translate this dominance into more consistent scoring, they need to raise their competitiveness, focus, and determination in the box, and they need to similarly raise competitiveness defensively to prevent their opponents from creating good chances against the run of play. With a back-heavy ECNL schedule, the U14s will have much of the fall to continue this development before hitting the bulk of the ECNL season.
Overall, the Labor Day weekend was a great start to the fall season on the field for every team, and seeing the players and teams support and watch each other’s games also set an important tone about what it means to be a part of a club.