Written by: Patrick Goggin on October 13, 2011
Soccer is the world’s most popular game. Fans live, breathe and bleed their teams colors. It even comes in different forms to be enjoyed in any situation. There is beach soccer and there is Gaelic soccer, which is a combination of rugby, soccer and indoor.
The Las Vegas Knights are contributing to the soccer world with their very own semi-professional indoor soccer team. They are part of the Professional Arena Soccer League-Premier (PASL) division. The league was started in 1997 and is the largest indoor soccer league in the world. It has 32 teams in six divisions in the U.S. The Knights play their home games at the Las Vegas Sports Park.
Indoor soccer is played with five members per side, including a goalie. There are boards with plexiglass around the field, which are in play, and the field is synthetic turf. It resembles a hockey rink and has the same dimensions as well. There is also a penalty box which is used in the game for more serious fouls. Another variation of the outdoor and indoor game is that there are unlimited substitutions and no offside rules.
Josh Copeland is the head coach for the Knights and also plays as a defender. He played in college at California State University at Chico and professionally for the California Cougars. He also runs the soccer operations for the Las Vegas Sports Park, and he sees how difficult the game is now from his experience in the game.
“Some players are amazing outdoor players and they are not good indoor players. The walls are annoying,” he said. “You have to get used to it and it is hard getting people to understand the differences between indoor and outdoor.”
Since the field is smaller the game is a lot more condensed and passing is a vital component of the game. Copeland pauses practice during drills to teach his players where they need to be not only on the ball, but off it as well.
“You score in indoor off counters and mistakes,” Josh said. “It is not necessarily how much you do correctly on the ball, it is how much you capitalize on what they do incorrectly.”
The indoor game is extremely fastpaced and there is no time to think. It is all about reacting and working together as a team. Argentina native Ezequiel Sanchez is the Knights’ goalkeeper and has a different perspective than his fellow teammates.
“Here you cannot sleep. You also cannot dive as much because the ball is hitting the wall and coming back into play,” he said. “If you are diving, flying, the ball comes back into play, you get scored on. You have to use your feet a lot.”
Indoor soccer is a rotating game that involves constant communication and teamwork. The traditional concept of positions is not as clear cut because of all the movement. This is where substitutions become a vital tangent of the game. Luis “Lucho”Suarez is originally from Guatemala and has been playing soccer since he was 5-years-old.
“You have to know your body and know that if you are going to run up and down two times it is okay to come out, take a breather and come back in,” he said. “It is all the time working and if you stay in being still, you are going to get beat.”
The Las Vegas Knights are striving to turn the team professional. This year alone, the PASL-Pro expanded four teams so their chances are very good as the league becomes more popular around the country. Sanchez has been with the team since their inception in 2006 and going professional with the Knights would be an honor.
“I used to wash uniforms for this team,” he said. “I designed the first logo with the owner so hopefully we can take this little team we started to a big area.”
Las Vegas Knights home opener is Nov. 12 at the Las Vegas Sports Park located at 1400 N. Rampart Blvd.
Source [UNLV Rebel Yell]