Guest Session by Rob Gale – Canadian U18s Head Coach – Midfield Movement

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Rob Gale – U18 Canada Head Coach

Robert Gale is the Head Coach of the U18 Canada Mens Team. He also is the assistant of the U17 Mens team. He has the Canadian and USSF A license and is completing the UEFA A License this summer.


Six midfielders inside center circle- divided up into four ten by ten yard squares. Players pair up – one player takes lead and begins moving inside circle- other player reads movement and rule is they cannot be in same half of the circle as their partner. (take turns as lead)


One player has the ball he dribbles inside circle- partner moves without the ball but still cannot be in same half as partner. All Runs must be in shape of 7 (check mark). Players then move ball between them and combine whilst still making runs and being in opposite sides of the circle –both horizontally and vertically.

Mid 1


Central midfield three work inside center circle with 4 10x 10 divisions, each occupying a different quarter each. Players rotate off each other trying to maintain good distances and angles of support for each other. After  a couple of passes with rotation ahead of the ball- little set back pass for deep midfield who hits first time raking ball to flanks- aiming for 20 yard triangle set up on line. 

Wide player takes ball out of the air and on the run and delivers cross into area. Midfield three then get another ball and try and work both flanks as appropriate to play.

mid 2

 Coaching Points:Movement of players should be sharp and read off each other tempo in passing combinations. 

Set back ball needs to be weighted to allow for first time switch ball. 

Wide player should be anticipating driven ball wide and take ball out of the air and in their stride and hit realistic cross on the run.


Midfield rotation – playing out from back

3 players at each end about 50 yards apart. And 3v3 in the middle 30×30 yard square. Players try and rotate in the midfield and switch play from one side to the other- back 3 at each end rotate ball around and look to play forward when movement dictates the pass.

Coaching Points

·         Establish the shape of the midfield three early

·         Encourage mobility to get player on the ball

·         Look for split runs between midfield partners- across back shoulder of defenders

·         Establish appropriate space between passing player and receiving midfield player

·         Receive half turned and look to play forward – take a picture before you receive (head on a swivel)

·         Look for combination play and early outlet pass

·         Back 3 should look for the forward pass down the channel and change point of attack on the angle

mid 4 


10 v10. (30mins) ½ FIELD – Speed of play – Ball movement and shapeCoaching Points

·         Recap on themes from previous sessions. Focus on ability to play out from back through midfield quickly and simply.

·         Full backs disperse early and hips facing forward- 1st touch forward

·         Midfielder’s ability to play with head on a swivel, look forward, think forward and play forward.

·         Wide players can they get shape early and go at players 1v1.

·         Can strikers play on a pendulum- show and show again.

·         Timing and movement of attacking runs.

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Danny Dichio is an ex professional footballer/soccer player who has played in the English Premier League, Italian Seria A, and the MLS. He has recently took a job on the Fox Soccer Channel as a news Analyst. His main role now is a coach for the Toronto FC Academy, who he played for the MLS. Here is a link to Danny’s Website:


1/ what is your role at Toronto FC?

I am Head Coach of the U19 TFC Academy team

2/ what is your philosophy as a coach?

My philosophy is to play an attacking style of football with lots of interchanging from the players. I like to play out of 4-3-3 system, so we have to teach players how to improve technically first, before we can even start talking tactically. In this system, if you do not have players that are comfortable on the ball, then you are going to be defending a lot or getting scored on a lot, as your team is so stretched to try & create space to play.

3/ Do you think the level of players in the US and Canada is improving?

Dramatically so! In the US, you can see at a senior level how many players are playing abroad(Europe especially), that this has increased the standard. This due to the money the US soccer federation invested with Nike into their Youth programs a few years back.
Here in Toronto, we have a different scenario bubbling up. We have a very eclectic array of nationalities living here now & they are from all prominent football countries. England, Italy, Portugal, brazil, Jamaica, Africa, Caribbean, these are just a few of the places where these kids are from or their parents have originated, so that meaning that football is in their culture already, which is a massive plus!

4/ What is the main difference between Canadian/US soccer than English football? Players and Coaches?

I think the main difference is the Media & how much it is in everyone’s face in England constantly. Its our #1 sport in the UK compared to here in North America where we have 4 or 5 other sports to compete with. The coaching is getting a lot better here too. The major problem here in Canada is the Facilities, fields(lack of), + money being put back into the development of coaches & players.

5/ The USSF has implemented a new curriculum. Has Canadian soccer done a similar thing.

No. Canada is miles behind the USSSF in those kind of programs. They have people here who want to implement them, but the people who make the decisions are not the right people who want to move football on in this country.

6/ Do you think Academy soccer in Canada/US is at a similar level to European academies?

Its probably getting there, but I would not say its level yet. The Academies at the Pro clubs in England is very serious(even here at TFC) & you have to consistently perform to want to be a part of it. Other Academies I see in North America where the kids are paying are a little bit different as I feel the Parents still have too much of a say in what the kid is doing.

7/ Do you ever get back to watch QPR now they are back in the Premier League.

I am going back at Christmas to spend some time at Chelsea, Arsenal & QPR to watch training session etc. So  I am sure I will catch a game at Loftus Road then.