Midfield Maestro: 5 Characteristics of an Attacking Center Midfielder
Every team needs its iconic No. 10. The attacking center midfielder, the midfield maestro, that player that dazzles with their ingenuity, inspires with their innovation, and mesmerizes with their brilliant contributions in attack.
Let's take a look at 5 characteristics of an attacking center midfielder (ACM).
1. Passing Range
As the primary orchestrator of your attack, your attacking center midfielder must possess an exemplary range of passing: the 60-yard driven ball, the incisive wall-pass to combine, the defense splitting through ball, all of these passes must be part of your ACM's quiver.
The ability to hit crisp, clean, well-weighted passes that teammates can take in stride, and that lead them into positive areas of the pitch is an absolute for an ACM.
All great ACM's have a knack for seeing things on the pitch that are invisible to others. The best no. 10's have the audacity to try things, to invent, to craft something out of nothing via understated simplicity, or an arrogant flick, back heel, or audacious volleyed pass.
The soccer pitch is the canvas for the artistic attack minded midfielder. It is their platform form for painting the pictures that others don't dare to imagine.
3. Movement Off The Ball
All quality attacking center midfielders understand the importance of moving off, and without, the ball. They understand that in most systems their energies should be devoted to working hard to find pockets of space to occupy that can be advantageous to the attack.
They work tirelessly to support their teammates, creating angles, passing lanes, and splits to receive, turn, and get facing forward.
4. Goal Scoring Threat
The best No. 10's provide assists and opportunities for their teammates, but they also maintain a significant goal scoring threat.
They can beat their opponents 1v1, convert chances at a high percentage, scoring from close range, outside the box, in the air, on the turn or dribble, and by combining with the other players in their ranks.
You know the names, Ronaldinho, Messi, Pele, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Marta, Michelle Akers. Each one of them has something special, something undefinable yet clearly perceivable when you watch them play.
That x-factor that makes the legends who they are, that extraterrestrial ability to attempt the unthinkable and pull it off without detriment to their team: chipping the keeper from ridiculous angles, taking on 4-5 players inside their own half as they run towards the opponent's goal at blistering pace, making chances out of nothing, firing 35-yard laser beams into the top-corner of the net, you know the x-factor when you see it.
The skill set and characteristics of an attacking center midfielder continue to evolve and change as the game and the players that play it get faster and faster, but one thing is for certain, when you watch an extraordinary No. 10 play the beautiful game, there's nothing quite so amazing in all of sports.
Here's a clip on some of the best to have ever graced the game!
About the Author:
Isaiah Schwerin has been involved with the game of soccer as a fan, coach, and writer for 28 years. He is currently a head coach at Central Marin Soccer Club, where he coaches the U12-U18 boys and girls. He is also the Associate Head Coach for the men's and women's soccer teams at Marin Academy. He holds a USSF D License, Coerver Youth Diploma II, and is a Positive Coaching Alliance Double-Goal Coach.