Most of the time, being an isolated goalkeeper is a great thing – the farther down the pitch the play is, the easier it is to keep the ball out of your net.
Unfortunately for Canadian Premier League netminders, this is not one of those times.
Pacific FC goalkeeping coach Mark Village, who retired last season, has seen that first-hand (pun intended) in CPL’s socially distancing return-to-training model.
“I mean, outfield players have gone months without getting touches in – we’ve gone the same time without handling the ball,” Village told CanPL.ca.
“Our guys are ready to get their hands on it. It’s been a lot of handling and service from distance and the guys have adjusted really well.”
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PFC’s goalkeeping tandem of Nolan Wirth and newcomer Callum Irving, like all CPLers, went over two months without training after COVID-19 delays and protocols came into place in March. Since returning to socially-distanced training sessions, Village said his ‘keepers are forced to focus on distribution and stopping shots from distance.
What’s missing? Dreaded one-v-ones. Outfield players and ‘keepers are not yet allowed to come into close contact in PFC’s current phase of return to training.
“As a coach, you really have to think a few steps ahead, because you want to respect the distance for the players, the club,” Village said. “Session planning and trying to wrap your head around everything.”
If play resumes this summer, as Commissioner David Clanachan recently hinted at, will we see more goals scored from inside the six-yard box or on breakaway scenarios? It’s doubtful, but finding positional rhythm and confidence can’t be understated for goalkeepers.
“Once we progress [to another return to training phase], we’re going to get to one-versus-one scenarios right away,” Village explained. “We’re doing a lot of technical work, but we need that positional, one-v-one element.
“You have to draw up sessions that are adjusted – and get ready to change them if we’re allowed to open up. It’s been nice to be able to work on the craft; get their hands on the ball, work on distribution, that sorta thing – but we’re ready for something new.”
If Village, or any other goalkeeper coach reading this, is looking to spice things up, take a look at these photos.
Cavalry FC goalkeepers, including Marco Carducci, were recently photographed lunging over logs and massive stones in training. Village credited Cavalry’s creativity to keep training interesting… and simultaneously creating an unusual photo opportunity.
“I saw a photo and… I had to take a second look. I thought it was photoshopped,” Village joked. “They are getting creative over there – I appreciate that from Jordan [Santiago, Cavalry’s goalkeeping coach], you have to use what’s at your disposal.”
When asked, Village said he’s not actively looking for in-the-net obstacles for Wirth and Irving, but he’s open to a less regal version of Cavalry’s Spruce Meadows project.
“I’ve used a garbage can once,” Village joked. “So it seems like the same height and width.”