Laarwel Legende

Many youth soccer players know the name well, but very few know why.

If a single moment could be said to have changed the way a generation looked at football, it was the turn with which Johan Cruyff bamboozled the Swedish defender Jan Olsson in the 23rd minute of a group match during the 1974 World Cup finals.

The Holland football legend Johan Cruyff has died of cancer at the age of 68. The Dutchman, who on three occasions was voted the world player of the year, guided Holland to the World Cup final in 1974 and as a manager he spent eight years in charge of Barcelona.

As a player Cruyff scored 392 times in 520 games over a 19-year career but his influence reached far beyond creating goals, thanks to his qualities as a leader, thinker and speaker.

This was one of the sport’s true pioneers – a player who could think through the game just as well as he could play it.  He was also a brilliant, witty rhetorician. Blessed with a sharp mind and even sharper opinions, Cruyff seemed to delight in any opportunity to hold forth on the game, or battle with a foe.

Consider these gems that prove he was the sport’s ultimate philosopher king:

“Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.”

“If you can’t win, make sure you don’t lose.”

“You play football with your head, and your legs are there to help you.”

Today the game lost a legend.  Laarwel Legende – goodbye Legend.  Goodbye Johan Cruyff.




Winning, Losing, Success, Failure…

In my 27 years as a coach and a lifetime of playing, I have never seen a soccer game that lacked competitive spirit. Sport, in general, is competition. It doesn’t mater if it is between two national teams competing for the world cup, or two 8 year olds playing in the street. The goal is always to win. And when there is a winner there must be a loser. Yes, we have an occasional draw in soccer, but depending on your team or individual performance, I would say that could be seen as a win or a loss, depending on the competition.

That said, I would suggest my ultimate job as a youth soccer coach is to use the sport to teach youth players how to win with humility; and how to lose with grace while using each as a tool to teach lessons about success and failure and more importantly, how each applies to life. We, as a culture, put such an emphasis on winning and would equate winning with success. However, I would suggest that the two are very different. I believe that you can win and not be successful and you can find success even though you lose.

While a positive result (a win) is one way to measure of success, is it success in itself? What if you play in inferior opponent? What if they outplay you, but you ultimately get the win? I would argue the resulting is relief, not success. Conversely, when playing a superior opponent, out-playing them without the positive result, there is still a sense of success (or at least there should be), but yet it is a loss.

Ultimately, the art of coaching comes down to how we assess both the successes and failures our team experience and utilize each as a tool to develop athletes both mentally and physically.


Jon Pasquini

My Best 11

One of the tantalizing sidebars of sports is the inevitable debate about who is the best.  Since our game includes participants from the entire globe, options for your all-time best eleven players are endless.

Of course we are likely to show a bias toward players that rose to greatness in our own era, from our favorite teams, or even players of our own heritage.  Clouding the debate further, we are all influenced by the qualities we like in players.  Roy Keane may not have been the most technically gifted player in the world, but I personally like players that have an edge and ferociousness about them.  Liverpool fans would certainly tell you otherwise.

For me, Zizou is up there with some of the best that have ever laced up a pair of boots.  Technically and tactically very gifted, with an obvious nasty streak.  I like that in a player.  Fans of the Azzurri, and Barca fans for that matter, would definitely disagree.

Disagreement leads to debate and I love it.  Tantalizing.

With that said, I present to you my choice for my perfect starting eleven.  Agree.  Disagree.  Insult me and tell me my taste in players is questionable, at best.  On this subject, I don’t care.  These are my guys and I’m riding with them.


Peter Schmeichel (GK) – One of the best shot stoppers to grace the game with a cabinet full of medals to prove it.  The big Dane would never be accused of being shy.  Footage of him barking at his defenders is priceless.

Roberto Carlos (Right Back) – Simply stated, he changed the position.  Bombing up and down the line, he changed the position from that of just a defensive role to that of a dangerous attacker.  Two words: Le Tournoi (look it up) and thighs (is that more than two words?).

Franco Baresi (Center Back) – From the era I know, he was simply better at reading the game than everyone else.  Period.  Not only that, but it was effortless.  Also the best at springing a counter from deep with a slide rule pass.  Gifted.

Marcel Desailly (Center Back) – Close to Baresi’s equal with freakish athleticism.  With technical skills that surpassed most central defenders, any coach, fan, or player would want this guy on their team.  Silky.

Paolo Maldini (Left Back) – Come on, no debate here.  The guy played at the highest level for club and country for almost a quarter of a century and earned 120+ caps for Italy.  Not just durable, but effective.

Ronaldinho (Right Midfield) – One of the most technically gifted players ever produced from Brazil – and that is saying something.  Probably not going to track back and provide defensive cover, but with those skills, who cares?  An absolute artist on the ball.

Roy Keane (Defensive Midfield) – While all these pretty boys dance around on the ball in my team, someone has to provide the brawn.  The fiercest competitor of a generation of footballers.  Not nice, questionable character, but my gawd, what a beast.  Covered every blade of grass, scored the occasional goal.  Winner of the ball, as well as trophies.  Frequently succumbed to the red mist.

Ryan Giggs (Left Midfield) – The Welsh Wizard was dazzling up and down the wing.  If you know nothing else about him, do yourself a favor and watch his goal in the 1999 FA Cup (sorry Arsenal fans).  One of the few nice guys in my squad – never sent off in a 20+ year club career.  Questionable chest hair though.

Eric Cantona (Forward) – Not really a forward, not really a midfielder, but one of the first players to excel in what is now called the “hole” position, or withdrawn striker.  Paved the way for the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and those like him.  With the upturned collar and classic french arrogance, this guy was just as likely to score a goal as he was to create one.  Never ordinary.  Dabbled in red cards and kung fu.

Zinedine Zidane (Forward) – Capable of changing a game on his own.  Creator and scorer of amazing goals on the biggest of stages.  No stranger to the red card as demonstrated by the world’s most famous head butt.  An exquisite talent with an edge.  For me, one of the best ever.

Thierry Henry (Striker) – Could play on the left, right, or up the middle and still score loads of goals.  Could play in Italy, England, Spain, and the States and score loads of goals.  Part of the infamous Invincibles.  With tons of pace and guile, he could out run defenders, out wit defenders, smash it into goal, and finesse it into goal.  One word: goals.

So there they are – my guys.

I’m aware I left out some obvious greats like Cryuff, van Basten, Maradona, Messi, Pele, Beckenbauer, Gullit, Platini, etc.  But these are the guys I prefer.  Who are your guys?  Who are your gals?  I would encourage you to let the Trebol world know what YOUR best eleven look like.

One thing I do know, they ain’t gonna get three points against my squad.

Erich Delfs

Is this Me?


Over 200 hundred games last year played under the Colorado Soccer Association banner did not have a referee, many more do not have a full complement of officials. The state association has recognized this as one of the most important issues they need to address to ensure that the game we all love can continue to flourish.

The state is hosting multiple regional Grade 8 referee programs throughout this year to increase the number of individuals becoming referees and clubs, including Trebol, are hosting in-house referee courses to try and help fill the void.

There are multiple reasons as to why there is a lack of referees but the biggest reason of all is due to coach and parent sideline behavior. I am certain that no coach or parent sets out in the morning with the intention of getting into an altercation with a referee at the team’s or child’s game, but it happens on a regular basis.

Ten per cent of referees stop refereeing during their first year of refereeing and a further 10% stop after the end of their first year, inappropriate sideline behavior is the biggest factor in driving referees to reach these decisions.

For as long as I have been involved in youth soccer I have always tried to instill in players, teams and members alike the importance of respecting the opposition, the officials and the game itself, yet at times, sideline behavior can be inappropriate and this in turn can have a negative effect on players.

We do not lose games because of refereeing! Soccer is a continuous, free-flowing game and regardless of how qualified, experienced or certified a referee is, players influence games far more than referees. Referees will make mistakes and we need to look at this as a part of the game and use this as an opportunity to teach our players how to overcome adversity rather than an opportunity to belittle the officials.

We all have different opinions on the game, what does or does not constitute a foul and based on where we are sitting watching the game a very different view of the proceedings is had. For the most part we will not be in an ideal position to truly see what occurred on the field.

Winning and losing is not life and death! We are all competitive, we all want to walk away victorious, but it is not the end of the world if we don’t! The lessons we learn in defeat far outweigh the lessons we learn in victory. Development is a process that takes time. Look for the positives, and address the negatives as opportunities to improve. In other words, defeats are opportunities to improve, victories are opportunities to be humble.
Asking for an opposing player to be booked/red carded is wrong. Screaming for a referee to brandish cards to opponents lacks class and degrades us as a club. Referees are encouraged to act as educators to young players, not disciplinarians. The next time you decide to ask for a card, ask yourself how you would feel if it was your child on the receiving end.

Attending a game does not empower you to criticize a referee or a player! Each is doing their best. There are many reasons why a young referee may underperform, do not assume that it is from a lack of effort or talent. Imagine if it was your child that was criticized. If you think you can do a better job please let me know and I will be happy to enroll you in one of the referee courses taking place this spring.

We need to encourage people to become referees and support them so that they can continue to learn and improve over the years, not run them off because we disagreed with a decision they had to make in a split second. As members of Trebol Soccer Club you need to remind yourself that you are an ambassador for the club and when you sign your child up to play you agree to represent the values and standards of the club.

It is not my intention to isolate any specifics incidents as to events that may have happened, as we do not want to treat the symptom, but cure the cause. I now implore all of our members to introspectively reflect on how they feel they represent our club.

Please take two minutes of your time to watch the clip below, and ask yourself…Is this me??

Erich Delfs
Director of Coaching

Change is a scary thing, or is it?

I have always been told there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes, but I would like to add another: change.  Like it or not change is happening all the time.

Over the past few months, Trebol has experienced many changes both on and off the field and I am sure people have asked why is Trebol making these changes.

Some of the changes were made to ensure the needs of the club, as highlighted by the board in last year’s strategic plan, such as improved player and coaching development, were met. New staff have been hired and tasked with seeking to expand and further develop upon the club’s first twenty years of existence, to help ensure Trebol has a bright, successful, and competitive future both on and off the field.

The result of change can already be seen in some areas, with the development and implementation of a club soccer philosophy, an age appropriate curriculum, expansion of coaching education opportunities, as well as additional player opportunities at the recent Boot Camps. At the end of the spring season members will be able to see the implementation of an improved and transparent tryout process for all Trebol players entering the 2016-17 seasons.

Some changes, however, are forced upon you. In the last five months Trebol has had three different office locations as the club had to find a location that met all the necessary criteria to best serve its members. During this time staff, coaches, and members have had to deal with a lot of uncertainty and disruption but in the last month we have solidified a permanent office in a great central location in Louisville.  The new office not only provides the staff a professional environment in which to work, but also offers coaches, team managers, and members alike a place to call home, a new identity, where we can host meetings and hang out to talk Trebol soccer.

There are more changes ahead which will not only affect all Trebol players, but all youth soccer players throughout the entire country.

The new US Soccer Federation mandates are founded on sound player development initiatives. The introduction of small-sided games for the 9 through 12 ages will lead to these players having more touches on the ball, leading to increase technical skills and better player development, critical at the younger ages.

The change of team formation to birth year at first sight might not appear to be beneficial to players. However the change is intended to have players train and play according to their age and developmental stage supporting the objectives of small-sided games, focusing on the physiological and developmental needs of the player.

Team formation by birth year will lead to the breaking up of teams and some players being unable to play with existing friends, for some this is seen as a barrier that can’t be overcome. Perhaps it may be better to look at this as an opportunity to explore something different that may lead to greater development and growth, and who knows even making new friends.

Even under the existing team formation process, players would still leave and join the team causing change regardless. Perhaps we should consider embracing the changes and look at the development opportunities that could arise for the individual player.

When dealing with change it helps to keep an open mind and seek to see the positive opportunities that may arise. Throughout the spring the club will keep members updated on the process of changing to team formation by birth year and provide details of any new information when received.

I encourage all members to take the opportunity to discover more about the upcoming changes by reviewing the US Soccer Federation Player Development Initiatives outlined on the club website. Talk to other parents, coaches and club staff to help figure out how these changes will impact your player.

Knowing that change is coming doesn’t guarantee the transition will be easier, or that you will agree with it, but it does allow you to be better prepared to deal with it.

Come the fall, players will be on teams, teams will be playing games. Some games will be won and some will be lost and despite the “changes” it likely will not look a whole lot different to this season or last.  Who knows, this time next year we could all be looking back and wondering why we were so concerned about change.