Fuel Soccer Talk: A lesson in player-coach relations; Martial arts is another tool for the tool box; Video – Wambach on heading the soccer ball

Berhalter earning the respect he deserves from his players

The U.S. Men’s National Team saw 2019 end with a semifinal Nations League game against Honduras secured, a loss to Mexico in the Concacaf Gold Cup final and new players integrated by Gregg Berhalter.

With the 4-0 win over Cuba this week, Berhalter’s USMNT record stands at 11-5-2.

There are always going to be bumps in the road – like with any new endeavor – but the USMNT appears to be headed in the right direction. And it’s a new and even exciting direction under Berhalter.

“We’re all really excited,” said Jordan Morris, who scored twice in the win over Cuba on Tuesday night. “We think we’re moving in the right direction, the coaching staff we feel has done a really good job coming in and everyone internally is really excited. It’s a really close group. The feeling within the group is really high. We’re just excited for the future. Next year is going to be a big year, and we can’t wait.”

Players should always give a new coach their full support and respect. Berhalter has certainly earned that. Changes are going to be made with a new man/woman at the top at any level of soccer and players need to realize that, adjust and us it to their advantage. It’s a chance to prove yourself all over again and great players welcome that opportunity.

Young players often play for their high school and club teams. And as they move up the ladder – from JV to varsity or within their club – they are greeted by a new coach. And it’s another chance to prove yourself. Give the coach your respect and your full-effort and they will support you right back. Just like Morris did with Berhalter.

Martial arts is a way to improve a player’s confidence and focus

One of the most successful martial arts schools in the country is located in Ann Arbor, Mich. Keith Hafner’s Karate has graduated more than 2,200 black belts since they opened in the mid-1970s. Becoming a black belt in karate won’t necessarily help you score more goals on the pitch but martial arts is another way to help young players become not only stronger and fitter but better people.

“Everyone always accepted that the martial arts was a method of fighting and off of that came things such as courage, confidence, respect and discipline,” Hafner says. “But what we did was flip that model and learn self-defense but do that to develop what’s really important which is courage, confidence and the focus.”

For a young soccer player, one of the big advantages of martial arts is the focus aspect. Mastering martial arts techniques requires a lot of concentration and this enhances your ability to concentrate in all areas of life as well. For kids, they often start focusing better in school very quickly. Parents, teachers and coaches notice the difference.

Soccer tips: How to properly head the ball with Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach (who is from my hometown – Rochester Proud!) is one of the greatest soccer players to ever step on the pitch. So when she offers up tips, suggestions, advice – you better listen and take notes.

Here are some of the right ways to head a soccer ball.

Send story ideas and suggestions to Terry Jacoby at