Photo by Jonathan Segal
Francisco Rivero/Contributing Writer
The last time FIU Men’s Soccer team got off to a 5-0 start, not a single player on the current team was born.
One of the main reasons for the Panther’s early success this season has been the style of play that Head Coach Kenny Arena has brought to this team.
“It’s a mixture of different styles, we just try to play the game in a challenging way and an attractive way,” said Arena.
Arena has utilized a style that consists of a lot of ball control and a quick-attacking offense.
A perfect example of this style was when FIU battled Wisconsin and held the high-scoring Badgers to just nine shots on goal while the Panthers gathered 12 shots on goal and scored three.
The first-year head coach’s style is a mixture of continental style and northern style.
According to expertfootball.com, continental style is described as a style that develops plays in a creative way while maintaining a sense of composure and team coordination. This has been an emphasis for Arena’s team so far.
For Arena, maintaining ball control opens the door for more scoring opportunities, which is where Arena’s second style comes into play.
Northern style has been described as very direct and straightforward. Players are forceful in their attack of the goal and the defense has very specific roles within their team. This style is also widely used in Germany, where freshman goalkeeper Robin Spiegel and sophomore forward Quentin Albrecht are from.
“I like the way he wants to play, he has a European style of soccer and he wants to keep the ball a lot,” Albrecht said. “He likes to keep the ball and try to create chances a lot and that’s good for me because I’m a forward and I like to get the passes from my midfielders and defenders.”
There has been no question that Arena’s new style has helped boost the Albrecht’s performance, who already has a team-leading five goals this season.
However, Arena’s mixture of styles has also helped improve the previously-struggling Panther defense, goalkeeper Spiegel being the main player to see these changes.
This year, the Panthers have allowed 49 shots on goal with Spiegel only allowing three successful goals, bringing FIU’s opponents’ shot on goal percentage to .327 compared to last year’s percentage of .464. Spiegel has also collected 13 saves this season.
“When I came here I realized that the soccer style was very different in America compared to Europe,” Spiegel said. “I had to come into it and he showed me how to choose the right spot and defend the crosses.”
Though continental and northern style soccer have been extremely benefitting to Spiegel and Albrecht, the rest of the soccer team has felt the positive impact.
The Panthers have a total of 72 shots on goal while sinking in 10 goals this season,
bringing their shot on goal percentage to .389 this season. Also, the success rate of goals in a game has risen from 1.29 in 2011 to 2.00 this year.
With all of this combined, Arena’s new mixture of styles along with the team’s improved defense has helped the Panthers get to their first 5-0 start in 25 years.