It’s Not Over Until the Final Whistle Blows

Soccer Abstract_32Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake found themselves down 2 goals to zero less than twenty minutes into their game earlier this week. To make matters worse, RSL, as the team is known locally, was losing on their home field and to a lower division team. The loss would mean elimination from the Lamar Open Cup, the 100 year old American soccer competition. Honesty, it didn’t look good for the home squad.

It would have been easy to fold. On that same night two other Major League Soccer teams collapsed; one losing to a Division II and one to a division III club. Former RSL player turned head coach Jason Kreis had stated this was a tournament he wanted to win. Winning the tournament was only possible by overcoming the 2-0 deficit – they had to focus on winning the game at hand.

In the 63rd minute it was time for change, Coach Kreis made two substitutions bringing in Plata and Stephenson. Both players would play a crucial role in the teams’ come from behind victory. (Oh, spoiler alert, but obviously they ended up winning or it wouldn’t be worth mentioning).

Three minutes after the subs entered the pitch (that means the field) the team got its first goal of the night. In the 79th minute Plata scored the game tying goal, a beautifully placed penalty kick.

Plata’s goal would send the normally 90-minute game into overtime where RSL showed determination and pure dominance. Seven minutes into overtime the go-ahead goal was scored on an assist from Plata (good thing he came into the game).  Before the final whistle the home side put the ball in the back of the net twice more including a goal from sub Stephenson.

Final score RSL 5 – Battery 2.

An exciting match!

Yes, not all soccer games end 0 – 0. The beautiful game can be exciting and “high scoring”. 7 goals is considered crazy high.

Other lessons can be extracted from this victory:

  • Focus on the now goal – Often too much focus on the larger goal causes losing small battles along the way. Winning all the small battles is the best way to ensure the larger goal is accomplished.
  • Change up the players – A colleague of mine once told me our division was perfectly aligned to achieve the exact same result we’d always achieved and honestly, that wasn’t good enough. Change needs to occur to alter the direction and the final outcome. Often that change means bringing in new people to impact the business. Coach Kreis made two subs in the 63rd minutes that changed the course of the game.
  • Achieving 1 goal helps gain momentum – Often the overarching objective seems daunting and unsurpassable. Find small victories along the way. For RSL it took getting one goal, in order to get a 2nd game-tying goal and eventually game winning goals. One goal achieved might just be to enough gain some momentum and propel an entire project or team in the right direction.
  • Never giving up – Pretty basic stuff I know. Still holds true. Getting scored against is part of the game. The key is to minimize it, not get discouraged when it happens. Then, have the courage to keep pushing forward, learning, improving and battling to realize the larger objectives and desired results.

A lot can be learned by watching others who find ways to do things right.

Go out and play your game like a superstar! Doesn’t matter if your game is sports, sales, marketing, teaching, or underwater basket-weaving.


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