The Significance of Assist in Soccer

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In soccer, an assist is a metric that is analyzed to see which players contributed to scoring a goal.

While strikers play a big role in the success of a team, there are several players who contribute greatly to scoring goals. One of these things is helping with an assist. 

What is an Assist in Soccer?

Assist in soccer refers to the player who passed the ball to the player who scored. Even if the player who scored has to defend the ball for some time, the player who originally passed the ball to them is still considered the assist.

In layman’s terms, it’s a way to credit the player who contributed to the goal, not just the player scoring the goal.

Any touch or pass of a player that leads to a goal is considered an assist. Statisticians assess a game by taking note of the assist to see a player’s contribution.

What Qualifies as an Assist?

A player who passes the ball to the striker is an assist. Even if the striker doesn’t shoot right away, the player who passed the ball to them is still considered the assist. 

There are still no guidelines that state a time limit on how long the striker can hold the ball, so an assist can happen long before the team scores the goal.

Does Every Goal Have an Assist?

While most goals have an assist, not all of them do. For instance, if the direction of the ball was interrupted by an opponent and the striker managed to retrieve it and score a goal, there was no assist. 

There are also some instances where an unintentional touch gains an assist award. Take this video, for example (skip to 0:42).

Here, the ball deflected off Perez, allowing his teammate, Soyuncu, to score a goal. Even if Perez didn’t intentionally touch the ball, he still got the Assist Award since he was a key factor in scoring the goal.

Is Soccer Assist a Useful Stat?

A soccer assist is a useful stat to assess which pass contributed to a goal. An assist is awarded to the player who passed the ball to the one who scored the goal, whether it was intentional or not. 

Initially, recording assists wasn’t standard and was not counted in the Laws of the Game (LOTG). It was not a soccer scoring metric until FIFA officially decided to track the assists in 1994.

Recording assists have helped create data-driven performance. It’s a relatively new but useful practice, as it can help teams assess their strategy.

Is Winning a Penalty an Assist?

The player who gets a penalty or free kick can win an assist award if his or her action results in a goal.

However, if he or she is the one who makes the goal, no assist award is given. The player who scored the goal cannot be an assist to his or her own self.

What are Second Assists in Soccer?

A second assist is the pass before the assist. Second assists are considered opportunity makers, as they foresee scoring opportunities by setting up the person who will assist the player who will score the goal.

Soccer fans see the relevance of a second assist, making them clamor for their acknowledgment. However, there are still mixed opinions about this, with others seeing the need to scrap second assists in the metrics. 

Second assists are not typically tracked in statistics (it’s actually rare for some leagues to even track the primary assist), so not seeing a second assist metric is not unusual.


Overall, I do believe that we should give assists some credit, as no individual can win a game alone. Especially in soccer, it requires tremendous planning, strategy, and teamwork to score a goal.

It’s also important to keep the metrics for how each player performs.

The data of assists can help gauge the effectiveness of a player and gauge the overall strategy that works for the team. It’s also a statistic that shows a player’s movement in play.

It can give us an idea of how we can improve our next game and work on our strategy. While the metrics aren’t always perfect,  they can give us insights and ideas.

Also, it’s important to give these players credit as they did contribute to the goal. After all, soccer is a team sport, not an individual sport.

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