I'm going to out myself as a relatively new fan of soccer. To wit: I got excited when the Timbers were moving up to the MLS and the national team won our group at the World Cup. So I've been at this for about a year and a half. I realize that this makes me a pariah among many Timbers fans and old school soccer nuts, but I can't change the fact that I just flat missed out for all those years and have only recently been converted.
My question: how do I learn more about the game? So far, I've been devouring articles and watching games, especially on ESPN3. Last year, I learned a bit how to watch a game with some intelligence and comprehension of what's going on on the pitch, but I'm still feeling like a total noob. I have to consciously not just follow the ball, but to watch players off the ball, how the team sets up on defense, how players create passing lanes with subtle movements, etc.
So some direct questions: are there books or videos/documentaries/movies you'd recommend for me to understand the game with more depth? And ultimately, how do you watch the game so that you can accurately assess how all 11 players on the pitch are playing on a given day?
If you can go into even more specifics, like how to assess defenders positioning, how a midfielder is playing too far up/too far back, or how to know when a forward is resting vs. just not giving good pursuit - then all the better for me.
Let me know how to watch to really learn. Tell me your secrets.