The roster order doesn't affect anything in the game; it merely sets the order that players are shown on the roster and box scores. It really doesn't matter how you choose to order your roster, however, since the only effect is how your roster is shown and the order of players in box scores. Thus whatever you find the easiest to read is what you should use.
The player option controls give you detailed control over each player's actions on the soccer pitch. First are the specialist assignments:
- Shooters: more likely to get the ball passed to them in scoring position, and more likely to shoot. Additionally, a midfielder designated a shooter is more likely to be moved up to forward if you are changing formation.
- Passers: more likely to be passed the ball as you work your way upfield. Passers should have high passing skills and decent ball control.
- Handlers: more likely to be the "ball hog" in a one-man attack. The ball hog is usually a defender who carries the ball past midfield. Ball control is essential here.
Next are the player option settings, which consist of side preferences and starting usage. The side preference sets where the player tries to line up in the formation; depending on the other players at the same position on the pitch, this may or may not be possible to carry out. The starting usage sets the minimum rest level the player must be at to start; setting to "95", for example, means the player must be at or above 95% to be used as a starter. "All" means the player will always be eligible to start; "--" means the player should never start. In general, a good starter should start at 75% or 80%, a mediocre starter at 90%, a good sub at 100%, and a player you don't want to see should be set to "--".
The final setting of importance is the special kick settings, which determines who may be selected to take specific kick types. You may list up to 15 players to take each kick. For any kick that comes during play, the highest player on a list who is on the field will be chosen. For a penalty shootout, the first five will be chosen. Note that this option selects the person actually kicking the ball; not the recipient of a corner kick or free kick not shot at the goal. In general, you want your best shooters to take short free kicks and penalty kicks, while your best passers (who are not also good shooters) are ideal for taking the other three types of kicks.
In the pro game, you can assign a captain and an assitant captain. These settings are primarily for show in baseball.
Substitutions are a very key part of the soccer game, since a team may make only three substitutions per game. At the bare minimum, you want every player to be able to sub out if injured or extremely tired. If you are inclined, you can also cause certain substitutions to be made if you are ahead (removing a forward for a defenseman) or behind (the opposite).
Subs are determined according your substitution patterns, each of which determines when and how a sub can take place. Each sub pattern includes the following information:
- Starters: players taken off the field
- Replacements: players brought on the field
- Maximum: the number of substitutions that can be made using this rule, from 1 to 3
- Situation: under what circumstances a substitution can be made. Two situations can be set, if desired, allowing the substitution to be made if either situation is in effect.
Each situation is specified by a situation type and value from 1 to 5. These work as follows:
- Leading, Tied, Trailing: in effect if time remaining is less than the value times 10
- Fatigued: in effect if player rest level is less than 40 plus the value times 10 or if the player is injured
If you can't remember these definitions, you can always check the main substitution screen, which gives the meanings rather than the 1-5 values.
The core of your team's game play is set in the situation coaching options. The game allows six situations to be defined, as follows. All but normal have usage settings, which give you flexibility in when the situation is in play.
- Normal: when no other situation is in play. This is always the situation at the start of the game; thus the formation you specify here determines the number of players per position in your starting lineup.
- Heavy attack: if behind by 3 or more goals; if behind by 2 goals with less than 20 minutes ("less"), 40 minutes ("normal"), 60 minutes ("more"), or 80 minutes ("most") to play; or if behind by 1 goal with less than 10 minutes ("more") or 20 minutes ("most") to play.
- Attacking: Thresholds identical to 'heavy attack', except that each is one goal less. So "normal" means a two goal lead anytime or a one goal lead in the final 40 minutes. Note that "heavy attack" always takes precedence over "attacking".
- Late/Normal: In the final 20 minutes ("less"), 40 minutes ("normal"), etc., with none of the other situations in play.
- Heavy defense, Defensive: the reverse of heavy attack and attacking, respectively.
For each situation, you can set each of the following coaching settings:
- Formation: number of sweepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards. This doesn't refer to the players' nominal positions; it refers to their placement on the field. Thus you can have 5 defenders, 4 midfielders, and 1 forward playing a 3-4-3 formation by moving two midfielders and two defenders up. The game chooses the best players for the move when needed.
- Posture: from "heavy defense" to "heavy attack", the posture determines how far forward or back your players play. Defensive posture will have your midfielders help out more on defense; attacking posture will have them help out more on the attack.
- Ball Movement: short passes, long ball, one touch, or one player. This determines how your team tries to move the ball. Short pass and one-touch are similar offenses favoring high-percentage passes, but one-touch relies more on rapid passing and thus makes for a slightly quicker attack (as well as a few more mistakes). A successful attack using either option requires a solid midfield. Long ball goes for the quick strikes and can see the ball passed straight from defenders to forwards, so it may be useful if your midfield is weak. Finally, one player relies on one or two great dribblers to take the ball past midfield.
- Attack Speed: from patient to hurried, affects how much your team tries to avoid a backwards pass and how much it favors a forward pass.
- Defense: free man or zone. Zone assigns each player a region of responsibility within the defense. Free man is something of a 9-man zone, with the tenth playing man defense against a specific opposing player. Usually this is done to match your best defender against the other team's best scorer.
- Offside Trap: from never to most frequent, affects the fraction of the time your defensive line tries to draw a forward offsides.
- Aggression: from least to most, affects both your players' defensive effectiveness and the number of fouls they get.
A final option in the situation settings is game training. Game training gives your players temporary ability boosts (for the game only); you can divide up to six training points between shooting, passing, defense, set plays, conditioning, and film study. Be adivsed that the more points used, the more fatigued your players start the game.
If you are playing a free man defense, you may wish to specify the man matchups prior to the game. This is done with the defense matchup control, which lets you choose which defender should cover which opposing attacker. You may list positions rather than players for one or both values. When making the matchup, the computer will select the highest player on your roster order for your player, and the "best" opposing player at the position listed.