World Cup For Dummies: Soccer Lingo You Need To Know

by ERIN FOX // @erinfoxe

So, you want to cheer the US along during their World Cup appearance in Brazil this summer? Good choice. But before you tie an American Flag to your back and order a pint at your local soccer-friendly bar, you might want to learn a few phrases that will help make your World Cup experience even better.

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Since soccer is a game mostly embraced fanatically by our friends all over the world there’s plenty of terms that have crept in from vernacular abroad. Here’s what you need to know:

Football/Futbol: Yeah, that’s soccer. Us and the Australians are the only ones who use the term “soccer” to everyone else it’s some form of Football or “footie” for short.

Nil: Zero. If we have 4 goals and Ghana has zero at the end of our first World Cup match, the score will be “Four – nil.” (That would be a dream score, by the way. We’re aiming high.)

Equalizer: When someone scores a goal to make it a tie game, they score an equalizer. If we’re down to Portugal 0-1 and then Jozy Altidore drills a ball into the back of the net he’ll have scored an equalizer. Take that, Ronaldo.

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Tifo: They probably won’t show these on TV but if you ever see HUGE sheets painted and designed in honor of one of the teams on the field that fans pull over themselves before the start of the game – yeah, that’s a tifo. And they’re incredibly cool. Examples of them are here, here and here.

Caps: If a player gets called up to play in a match for their National Team they’ll get a cap. Tim Howard just had his 100th cap for the US team, which mean he’s appeared between the goal posts 100 times for the US of A – which also means he’s amazing.

Match: Game. The US has three matches during the group stage of the world cup – against Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

Group of Death: Ugh. The 32 teams that qualify for the World Cup are split into 8 different groups of 4 and how the teams are split up is decided by a lottery system. When you have as many talented teams as there are in this year’s World Cup you’re bound to have a “Group Of Death” – meaning, a group that is just stacked with awesome teams. Group G is the Group of Death this year and guess what – the US is in it. Which means we’ve really got our work cut out for us if we want to advance to the round of 16.

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Pitch: The soccer field. You know, the grass with white lines painted all over it.

Stoppage Time: In soccer there are two 45-minute halves with a brief halftime in the middle. During those 45 minute halves the ref’s don’t stop the clock for anything – someone gets hurt, someone get substituted, the ball goes out of bounds – yeah, the clock ticks on. To make up for it they’ll add a little bit of stoppage time to the end of each half to make up for any pauses there have been in the game.

Brace: If a player scores two goals in a game, that’s called a brace. When Jozy Altidore grabs two goals against Germany to put the finishing touches on our qualification into the round of 16 he’ll have scored a brace.

Hat Trick: If a player scores THREE goals in a game, that’s called a hat trick. When Clint Dempsey buries three goals easily against Ghana he’ll have scored a hat trick.

Nutmeg: If you slide a ball through your opponents legs, that’s a Nutmeg. A lot of times you’ll be passing the ball to yourself.

Set Piece: Whenever you set the ball down, stopping play, and kick it – that’s a set piece. That happens when you get a corner kick or a win a penalty – and it can often times be a good opportunity to make a goal happen.

Booking: If a player is given a yellow card (warning) or red card (kicked out of the match and their team has to play down a man) by the ref it’s called a booking. Yes, they really hold up cards and write their names down in a tiny book.

Clean Sheet: When a goal keeper doesn’t let a ball in the entire game – like what Tim Howard is going to do in every opponent in his group stage.

Goalaso/Goalazo: When someone makes an incredible goal.

Own Goal: When someone accidentally puts the ball in their own goal – giving the other team a point.

Did we miss your favorite soccer term? Leave it in the comments below.

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