The following is a expansive feature with a look inside the FGCU men's soccer program. Written by Liviu Bird, it originally appeared on SoccerWire.com Monday, Nov. 18.
SEATTLE — Before training, Florida Gulf Coast University players have five minutes to themselves. Players are never shy about blowing off steam before the serious work starts, but the ways this team passes time without a coach’s instruction take far more skill than smashing a ball on goal with no warm-up.
Two groups of keep-away develop, players using a maximum of two touches to move the ball around a tight circle while two defenders chase. Others form juggling circles, while three players try to pass a ball down the football hashmarks on the turf for as long a distance as possible.
“Some of these guys play 5-v-2 on another level,” head coach Bob Butehorn says, looking over his players’ impromptu skill session from a short distance. The customary whoops and hollers echo throughout the indoor football and track facility on the University of Washington campus as players nutmeg and otherwise embarrass one another.
After a few minutes, Butehorn begins training. The goalkeepers break off into their own group with coach Alec Dufty, while the others perform partner passing exercises and possession work in tight spaces. Butehorn shouts constant reminders to “keep the rhythm,” trying to get a long day of travel out of the players’ legs and repeat an important element in the team’s style of play.
It’s early in the 2013 season, and FGCU has made the cross-country trip to play Washington and Seattle University over a weekend. The Eagles were supposed to arrive early the day before their first match and train that night, but after sitting on the tarmac in Chicago for three hours, the coaching staff decided to hold a light session the morning of game day instead.
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