Decatur FC readies defense as Knoxville looms

Wasila Diwura-Soale heads in a goal against Fc Birmingham. [Photo credit Bree Hicken] Credit: Bree Hicken

Decatur FC’s inaugural season has been dynamite. The team is 3-1-0 and has yet to concede a goal. But just because Decatur has locked down on defense so far doesn’t mean their coach is allowing them to get complacent heading into this weekend’s game against Knoxville.

“I think last week, we got a little bit ahead of ourselves at times,” Decatur FC Coach Campbell Chapman said. “I felt that we were trying to do too much to get the ball in the goal and not being patient enough in our possession, especially in the attacking third, that we were trying to force balls through and dribble through. … it’s important to stay in your positions and be patient and understand that you might not be involved in something, but you’re still going to play a good part in our attacks.”

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Decatur FC’s offense has been stellar throughout the season, scoring 16 goals in four games. The team typically plays in a 3-4-3, with three forwards, four midfielders and three players on defense in front of the goalkeeper. The formation gives the midfield flexibility to attack as well as retreat and defend if necessary. 

Decatur is a very offensive-minded team, and they rarely get counterattacked, which means Chapman can give his players free rein to push up on the ball. Throughout the season, there have been times where the ball seemed stuck in the opposing team’s end as Decatur FC hammered them with shots. Last week against a weaker team in FC Birmingham, Decatur occasionally shifted into a 4-1-5. With five forwards and one midfielder, their defense could push up to try and score a goal.

But it’s not a strategy without risk. Last week’s Birmingham game was even for much of the first half due to the Lady Falcons’ strong forward group that repeatedly hemmed Decatur FC in its own half. Chapman wants to ensure that if it happens again, his group is ready for it. 

“Against [Georgia] Impact, when the game was getting away from us, we went to a four back,” Chapman said. “So we went to a 4-3-3 to try and stop that … As the game changes, we can make adjustments because the squad’s so good at having multi-positional players that I can rotate into other areas of the field that maybe don’t start but can come in and impact the game if we change the formation.” 

Decatur FC plays Knoxville 865 Alliance at home on Saturday, June 15 at 7 p.m. 

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