As the spring season was coming to a close and the summer came upon us, two U.S. amateur leagues, NPSL / PDL, began to blossom. General Managers & coaching staffs began to assemble their teams signing the best college, former college, or even former pro players in their team’s quest to win their respective league National Titles.
Here in the Lehigh Valley (Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Pennsylvania), where there is a wealth of soccer history dating back to the Bethlehem Steel days and eventually PA Stoners, FC Sonic was embarking on a magical season. While accumulating a roster almost completely full of current college players (Colgate, Lafayette, Lehigh, Muhlenberg, DeSales, So. Illinios – Edwardsville, Marywood, and Binghamton), FC SONIC posted a record of 14-1-1 in league play. While winning the NPSL National Championship was amazing maybe even more amazing was that FC SONIC allowed only five goals during the entire season – only one of those five coming in the flow of play.
- 2012 FC SONIC only allowed 5 goals in sixteen matches
- 2011 FC SONIC only allowed 7 goals in twelve matches
- 2010 FC SONIC only allowed 9 goals in twelve matches
So what’s the trick? Well, there is no exact science but our defensive philosophy is as follows.
From the first day the players arrive for our pre-season, we stress the importance of pressure on the ball in the opponents defensive third. And not just any pressure, but collective and highly organized pressure. The players must fully understand and buy into our belief that the first line of our defense starts with the forwards within our 1:4:3:3 system of play. If we don’t have the players buy-in then we either look at other players or make the decision to spend considerably more time with that particular, maybe even special, player to help him understand, appreciate, and execute our philosophy.
Without any hesitation, we almost always want to attempt to win the ball in the opponent’s half of the field. To us it makes sense, as the more often you can win the ball close to the opponent’s goal the more opportunities will present themselves in order to score. And depending on what area we can win the ball, in the opponents half, we feel strongly that it may be within a pass or two of getting an excellent scoring opportunity. Initially, we work diligently on our team shape and our forwards approach in closing down the opposition’s center-backs when they have possession. At this moment, we demand that our forwards force the ball centrally in hopes that their center-backs make an errant pass into one of our three central midfielders.
Dave Weitzman has compiled a record of 35 wins – 4 ties – 4 losses in three seasons as the head coach of the NPSL’s FC SONIC Lehigh Valley. FC SONIC ranked #1 nationally among all NPSL / PDL teams in 2012 and has reached the NPSL National Championships twice in Weitzman’s three years while claiming the 2012 National Championship. Weitzman spent nine seasons as an assistant coach at Muhlenberg College and Lehigh University, is the Ladies Youth DOC for FC Lehigh Valley United, and is the GM at the Iron Lakes Sports Dome in Allentown, PA. Dave has earned the Premier and DOC diploma’s from the NSCAA.