A beautiful game

Soccer. What seems to be a second-tier sport here in the United States—baseball is America’s favorite pastime, of course—is actually the world’s most popular, claiming die-hard fans in almost every country.

Soccer. What seems to be a second-tier sport here in the United States—baseball is America’s favorite pastime, of course—is actually the world’s most popular, claiming die-hard fans in almost every country.

However, when it comes to Portland, soccer is becoming increasingly more popular. With the fan attraction of the Timbers, it seems as though soccer is becoming more popular than baseball, hockey and maybe even football.

There are specific things that every person trying to follow a soccer game needs to know, including rules and penalties. Also, the lingo used by a soccer fan is quite a bit different from that used by a baseball fan or a fan of American football.

Soccer lingo

At a soccer game, an onlooker can expect a multitude of different sayings that are completely foreign to the average sports fan. A tackle is when a defender comes in and takes the ball away from an attacking player with authority and acquires control of the ball.

When someone says “good/nice ball,” it usually means that a player made an excellent pass to another player.

Another saying that people might not understand is “well done” or “nicely done.” These phrases are reserved for when a player is in a jam and somehow gets out of the situation by trickery or making a very important tackle on an attacking player.

While somewhat uncommon, die-hard fans call the field a pitch. The standard size of a soccer pitch is usually 120 yards long and 90 yards wide.


When a player is injured, most of the time the fair play rule comes into effect. It is not a written rule, but more of a gentleman’s way of paying respect to the other team. If someone is injured on the field, a player will kick the ball out of bounds deliberately so the injured player can walk off and get treatment.

Getting tackled while your feet are planted is a painful experience and it usually takes a while for the player to walk it off. When play resumes, the team that kicked the ball out of play will usually get it back from the opposing team.

Tricks and moves
The Nut-Meg:
This is a rarity, but it occurs when an attacking player manages to juke a defender and slip the ball between his or her legs and get by them. This is the ultimate embarrassment as a defender and fans will definitely make fun of them.

The Step Over:
A step over happens when an attacking player fakes moving in one direction by stepping over the ball and it looks like they are doing a dance. Some players step over the ball once or twice, others like FIFA World Player of the Year Christiano Ronaldo do it over and over again.

The Volley: This is when a shot is taken before the ball hits the ground. The most famous type of volley is a bicycle kick. This is where a player has their back to the goal and jumps up, with their body horizontal, and bicycle kicks the ball toward the goal.

Basic rules of the game

Each team has 11 players on the pitch, and a game consists of two 45-minute halves.

No hands:
This rule is pretty obvious, except for the keeper. The keeper cannot use his or her hands when a pass is made to them from their own team, unless made by the head, chest or thigh.

A foul occurs when a player makes no contact with the ball and instead trips, impedes, tackles, elbows or knees the opposing player.

Advantage: An advantage only occurs when a foul is committed, but the attacking team still has the ball and is in good position to develop a scoring opportunity.

Offside: An attacking player cannot be behind the last defender before a pass is made to them—if the player is, they are considered offside. In the mini-survey conducted by the Vanguard, only 20 percent of the people surveyed knew what offside was.

Direct free kick:
When a foul is committed, a free kick is awarded so the player taking it can make a shot on goal or pass the ball to someone else.

Indirect free kick:
This usually occurs during a hand ball, an offside call or when an illegal pass back to the keeper is made. The person taking the free kick has to let the ball touch someone else before it enters the goal.

Penalty kick:
This is a direct kick, 12 yards away, between the keeper and the person taking the shot. This occurs after someone has been fouled inside the 18-yard box.