A striker, also known as a forward and attacker, is a soccer player who plays nearest to the opponent’s goal. They tend to line up in the middle of the soccer field to give them the most area to use when attempting to score goals. These players on the team tend to be the best at scoring goals and being playmakers for others to set up goal-scoring chances.
So, what are common names that strikers have in soccer (association football)? Is the striker the only player who can score goals on their soccer team? What are the responsibilities of the striker position? Who are some of the most famous strikers in the English Premier League, La Liga, and MLS?
Here is the complete breakdown of what a striker is in soccer.
Common Names for a Striker in Soccer
- False 9
- Target Man
Why is it Called a Striker?
A soccer striker gets the name because of their ability to score goals against their opponent’s goalie. A strike can occur from either a kick or a header, and their technical skills allow them to place the ball precisely where they want in the opposition’s goal. While the main job of the best scorer on the team is to strike the ball into the goal, they also set up passes for other players to take high-percentage shots on goal-scoring opportunities.
Where Do Strikers Play on the Pitch?
The target man / woman is the number 9 position out of 11 on the soccer field. The striker plays the furthest away from their goalie and is the closest member to their opponent’s goal area.
The striker will be in the pitch’s middle of a winger and forward position. They tend to play in front of the attacking midfielder and center forward on the pitch. While teams can play many different formations, strikers tend to be the player nearest the opponent’s goalie.
Clubs play different formations during games to give themselves the best chance to win games. The different formations might not be as apparent where the striker plays, but generally speaking, they will camp out near the opponent’s goal area. Here are some formations to be familiar with when watching a game.
Is the Striker the Only Soccer Player Who Can Score a Goal?
Any soccer player that is on the pitch can score a goal. Even the goalkeeper on your team can score a goal during a match. However, the striker tends to be very good at ball control and shooting towards the goal, so they take the most shots out of all the soccer positions. Their position also allows them to play nearest the penalty area, so they tend to have the most chances to shoot shots against the goalie during matches.
What is the Role of a Striker Player?
A striker’s role is to stay close to the opponent’s goal during a soccer match and be ready to take goal shots. Since they play on offense, they are an attacking player, which means they need to find ways to drive the ball into the opponent’s goal. Strikers are great at shooting the ball, but they also have tremendous ball control and dribbling skills, which allow them to get open to take a shot against a goalie.
In addition to getting open to shoot at an opponent’s goal, strikers also need to do two other things. First, they need to act as a playmaker and pass to other teammates to take shots against the goal, especially when the defense swarms them on the pitch. Second, strikers need to play some defense in their area on the pitch, but they won’t be running down the field to defend.
Do Strikers Play Defense in Soccer?
A good striker needs to protect their area on the pitch when on defense. For example, soccer clubs may play different formations during a game to their strength. Depending on the formation that a team plays, a striker must be able to play defense in their area against their opponent when they have the ball.
However, strikers should not be running down the pitch to chase after the ball. Instead, they should protect their area on defense and then let another player defend against the ball as they move down the field. The striker should be in position for offense, especially when their team gets the ball back via a turnover.
Two things would happen if a striker ran down the field constantly to play defense. First, they would become tired, which is an issue since there are no natural breaks during a soccer game. Becoming tired will hurt their offensive game, which does not help the team. Second, if the striker is playing defense towards their goalie, then they won’t be able to get back on offense during a drive, which does not help their team score since they are out of position.
What is a Second Striker in Soccer?
A second striker’s role is to play behind the main striker and set up passes or divert the defense away from them. The second striker is an important position not only because they help set up shots for the striker, but they also play between the offense and defense side of the field. That means that a second striker needs to be able to set up passes for the striker on offense, collect long ball passes from the defense to start on offense, and score a goal if that is the best chance for their squad during a match.
What Makes a Great Striker in Soccer?
A striker needs to be fast, shoot the ball accurately, have a great first touch, and have tremendous possession of the ball skills. In addition, strikers need to have a sharp soccer mind and not be fooled by the defense into falling into an offside trap. While strikers can run down the pitch to get open for a pass to take a shot, they also need to know where offsides are and ensure they are in the correct position to get the ball.
In addition to skills as a shooter on the pitch, strikers need to take control of the match. For instance, the striker needs to be able to take shots during games to help their team win matches, but they also need to create scoring chances for other players. The attacking team looks for the striker to lead the charge who can help guide their team to a goal on offense.
Famous Strikers in the Premier League
The English Premier League has had loads of fantastic strikers in their careers. If you are looking for the complete list of the best strikers in the EPL, check out 90 Min. Otherwise, here is a sample of some of the best players.
- Louis Saha
- Duncan Ferguson
- Thierry Henry
- Alan Shearer
- Wayne Rooney
- Andy Cole
Famous Strikers in La Liga
La Liga has had a rich history of great strikers in their careers. Currently, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are two of the most outstanding strikers today. Here are some of the other famous strikers in LaLiga’s history. Check out the complete list of La Liga strikers at Bleacher Report.
- Samuel Eto’o
- David Villa
- Karim Benzema
- Hugo Sancheze
Famous Strikers in MLS (Major League Soccer)
Since 1996, MLS has continued to expand and grow by bringing and obtaining top talent to play in the league. Below are some of the best strikers to play in MLS. Check out Sports Keeda for the full breakdown.
- Didier Drogba
- Robbie Keane
- Landon Donovan
- Thierry Henry
Conclusion: What is a Striker in Soccer?
In summary, a striker in soccer (association football) is a player who tends to be the best goal shooter and scorer on a team. Their position on the pitch plays closest to the opposition’s goalie, and their role is to get open and take shots at the goal to score. Their part is to score goals during games, but they also act as playmakers and set up goal-scoring chances for their teammates.
Next time you watch an MLS, NWSL, Premier League, La Liga, or even a World Cup match, watch who is playing closest to the goal. That position player playing nearest to the goal is the striker. Take notice of how they are playing the field, their opponent, and the goalie to set up high percentage shots to go into the goal to help their team win the match.