The SSC Shadow Way

SSC Shadow and Spokane Sounders Families,

As people, we all can recognize THAT something is good even though sometimes we can’t explain WHY it’s good. As Shadow parent, you’ve been told that we play soccer the right way and I’d wager that a huge majority of you agree. Some of you have opinions on why it’s the right way to play, some of you trust the club, and some of you may still seek clarification…

Why do we do what we do?

The SSC Shadow Way

SSC Shadow teams play a possession-oriented style of play that involves playing the ball in our defensive third to draw the opposition into our half and open up space in their defensive half of the field. Creating space in the opposition’s half allows us to use our technical skill, passing, dribbling, combining, to create goalscoring opportunities. We seek to dictate the tempo of play, stamp our authority on the game, and have faith in our ability to solve problems.


We want our players to be problem-solvers. 

If we have a goal kick, throw-in, free kick, or the ball is in our goalkeeper’s hands, we look to play it short quickly. This helps us establish a rhythm in ball circulation, building our confidence with each touch on the ball, and places us in the driver’s seat. If our opponents deny us the chance to play short, there will be space elsewhere and our players will look for it. Our players will encounter these problems and solve them. Whether they succeed or fail in solving these problems, it’s very important to their development as players. 


The word development is a buzz word in this country. When I use the word, I want to talk about a kid becoming a soccer player: Improving technical skill each day, experiencing new situations on the field, building confidence—this is what development means to me.

Our young players, specifically U11-14, are taught a certain way to play that is good for their development but very risky to the outcome of the match. Short goal kicks, playing your goalkeeper’s feet when being pressed, trying to connect four short passes in a crowded midfield, these are all risky and challenging tasks mid-match for young players to navigate. However, they’re also crucial to developing confident, capable players who are able to solve problems. 

We look to teach the players the correct way to play and the kids love it. They believe in it and appreciate that we, as a club, believe in a style of play. It’s also important to recognize that young players lack the maturity to succeed in this (or any) style of play for 100 percent of a full game. They will make mistakes, individually and collectively, and with our style being so risky, they will lead to conceding goals which will impact the result of our matches.


We will lose matches implementing the SSC Shadow Way. We could win matches by playing territorial soccer—kicking the ball as far from our goal as possible, hoping for a mistake from our opposition, and pouncing. These results mean little to the development of a player because they’re not replicable in the long run nor do they contribute to long-term player development.

The result we are looking for is a clubwide style of play, implemented from top-to-bottom, that creates intelligent soccer players who are capable of achieving their goals both individually and collectively. Everything SSC Shadow teams do is with that goal in mind and, as a coach, it’s fantastic to be a part of this process at this club.

Thank you for all the patience and trust you place in our coaches and in the club. Long-term player development is a challenging road and with everyone—players, parents, coaches—working together we can literally accomplish anything.


Mike Pellicio
Director of Coaching
SSC Shadow and Spokane Sounders